Projecting late father's issues onto FH's weight gain.

posted 3 years ago in Family
Post # 3
27 posts
  • Wedding: September 2013

I know you only want the best for him, but I think you might need to accept that he might not lose the weight. You can’t make him lose it, and he’ll only start resenting you if, if you try. He’ll never be successful unless he is the one driving the weight loss.

Post # 4
1734 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 1998

There is a difference between putting on a little weight and, as you admit – being at the ‘border’ of being overweight, and having such a problem with decades of alcoholism that it ultimately costs you your life too soon. Most overweight and obese people (we’re talking the vast majority) do not have diabetes or high blood pressure. A BMI of 30 to 35, for example (up to around 65 pounds overweight), shortens life expectancy by about 2 to 4 years…on average.

Most people are fat, but they’re typically not much fatter than that – so the concerns that a person will die of a massive heart attack 20, 30 or more years before a natural lifespan is unlikely.

Health is not a Boolean thing – it is not an either/or, neither/nor sort of deal. Being thin doesn’t render a person automatically healthy, nor does being fat render a person automatically healthy. I speak as a slightly obese (40 extra pounds) woman who exercises 5 to 10 hours a week.

Even as a meat eater, my total cholesterol was around 160; my triglycerides, LDL, and HDL were all at excellent levels. Blood pressure’s 110/70. A1c results (previous 2 – 3 months blood sugar levels) is at 4.2%, or usually about the lowest ‘normal’ level in a lab setting. The sad thing is that most doctors would conclude that I’ll develop all of those problems long before the people who already have the warning signs – elevated cholesterol, prediabetes, prehypertension, etc. But, their bias doesn’t make it so.

Weight can get complicated very fast, and those who tend to lose weight for aesthetic reasons typically end up gaining it back (there is a reason that “95% gain it back” figure). The motivation tends to die out sooner, and most people find that the benefits of being thinner are not as big as they had hoped, so it trickles out even faster.

I’ve found that most people bring up weight gains because they’re looking for reassurance – that they still look good, that there’s nothing wrong with them as people, etc. The whole issue is fraught with a lot of emotional implications – that you’re a bad, greedy, selfish, foolish person to gain weight, among other moral judgments. And for a lot of people, myself included, comments along the lines of, “I can help you lose it,” can be scary from a partner. He might find himself asking – what is she really saying? Is she not attracted to me anymore? Does she not like my body? Is that the gentle way of saying, “You need to shape up or ship out?”

Don’t get me wrong – it is supportive to offer to help someone along the way. But this can be a trying time for someone whose body has significantly changed.

I would make more of an effort to focus on the health aspect of it – truly, the health aspect of it. Find ways to make healthier dinners together (or make better versions of some favorites). Find new activities together – make a date of playing tennis or going swimming. Even going laser tagging, though it’s a stereotypical “kid’s” activity, can be fun with plenty of calorie burning opportunity. But you can only suggest it – he has to be the one to take you up on it. And I do think keeping the focus on physical activity and better eating, rather than on losing weight, is really key here.

But if in fact this is more about appearance – if you aren’t attracted to someone who’s overweight – there’s nothing wrong with that either. I liken it to not liking people who are short or have brown hair or any other number of things – you like what you like. If you both have different approaches to weight and health, this could well be a sticking point in your marriage as you go forward.

Is there a professional you can talk to about your dad’s death? I really think it could be helpful to you.


Post # 5
6171 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: October 2013

@asc341:  my FI is very overweight.  when we started dating he told me he was motivated to lose weight because i am very active.  he was always a big boy and had lost 100lbs then gained it all back.  but in the first year of dating, nothing happened.  i offered to help in anyway i could.  he joined a gym but didn’t change his eating habits. 

i would tell him i wanted him to be healthier for himself.  but as things got serious with him, i felt it was more important for him not only to be healthy for himself but for his future children.  i want him around for a long time.  my mother is very overweight as well. and both of us lost our fathers at an early age due to other circumstaces. 

after we got engaged, FI went on the wedding diet.  he is down 40 lbs.  and still has 25lb to go to meet his goal.  i don’t think he will get there by the wedding but he is working really hard at it and that is what is important.

my mom on the other hand wants to eat an entire chocolate cake and expect to lose weight.  she would do fad diets, lose 30lbs than gain 40lbs. and yoyo horribly.  it got to the point where i couldn’t talk to my mom about food or exercise anymore because she wasn’t interested.  after i got engaged (and it’s only an 8 month engagement) my mom decided she had to do something.  she joined one of those liquid diets programs overseen by a doctor and is now on medifast.  she is doing well and i support her.  when she tells me she needs to start execising, i just say ok and change the topic.  over 10 years have i tried to help my mom and i just don’t want to talk about it with her anymore.


Post # 6
2819 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@CookieCreamCakes:  You took the words right out of my mouth!

OP, I can totally understand being worried about what will happen in the future, especially given your experience with your father. Even though I think food addiction and alcohol addiction are apples and oranges in a lot of ways, I also see how you could be worried about your FI’s future health or susceptibility to addictive behavior. But I think at the end of the day, all we can do is accept that we really don’t know what will happen. Because anything really *could* happen – he could start shooting heroin, or gain a hundred pounds, or cheat on you with the mailman, or whatever other horrible things your brain will let you imagine. But is it likely? Not really. And although I can totally see how you might think that his overeating is a sign that he’s more likely to have health problems or substance abuse issues in the future, I don’t think that’s really the case. 

It might help you to do some research about “health at every size.” It’s a great philosophy that basically says we should all strive to be healthy without focusing on our weight as the primary marker of our health. As an overweight person, it’s a lot easier for me to say to myself – or hear from a loved one – “I would feel so much better if I cut down on my processed carbs and ate more leafy greens” than “oh shit, I have to lose weight.” 

I don’t know if you’re overweight or have ever been overweight, but the idea of losing weight is one that can be very fraught. It can be really intertwined with ideas about whether we’re loveable, attractive, worthy of affection – and trying and failing to lose weight is just the worst feeling. I’m usually pretty happy with my body, until I start intentionally trying to lose weight – and then I just feel miserable about myself all the time. But when DH is like, “Let’s take a walk after dinner,” I’m like, “Ooh, sounds great!” So focusing on that kind of thing – cooking healthy food, not bringing home empty calories, finding fun ways to get activity in together, but not making him feel “bad” about eating unhealthy food or his current weight – might be really good for both of you! 

ETA: I wonder if going to Al-Anon meetings or seeking individual counseling might be helpful for you. It sounds like you might struggle with taking on responsibility for other people’s issues. I mean this in the kindest way possible and not as a criticism, but I think you might be happier in a lot of ways if you learned healthy strategies for detaching a little bit. I say that because it’s something I struggle with a lot myself, and from your post it sounds like you might, too. But it’s important to remember that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped; that change has to come from within ourselves and nothing you could have ever said or done would have made your dad recover from his addiction. I think you have a lot of insight already and counseling or groups might just help you build on that in a way that could be really helpful for your peace of mind. 

Post # 7
7230 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make them drink. He will lose the weight in his timeframe not yours. Weight loss is a personal journey. A partner can easily go from supportive to controling. I know my weight is an issue and frankly I gained it alone and will lose it alone. Just continue to lead a healthy lifestyle for yourself. 


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