Back when J. was my fiancé, I asked him to be my personal trainer. He was a former college athlete; he had the skills to whip my flabby self into shape for our wedding. A few days later — actually, while I was running on the treadmill, panting and begging him to let me stop — I fired him. He was a cruel trainer, unflinching when I told him that I was going to puke, stoic as I grimaced my way through a set of pushups. I’d do it myself, I told him.
And I did, dropping 30 pounds for our wedding, 25 of which I’ve since gained back (sigh) and lost, in various increments, about three times since we’ve been married. Each time, J. has been a silent witness to my weight loss quest, raising his eyebrows as I hand him a grocery list of nuts and fruits and veggies, reminding me that he’s thrown out about 500 pounds of spoiled lettuce since we’ve been married (“I’ll eat it this time, I promise,” I say), or holding in a chuckle as I declare for the fifteen-hundredth time that, starting tomorrow, I will only eat things from the earth, I will treat my body like a temple, I will work out every day, I will not consume an entire bag of sourdough pretzels in one sitting ever again.
I’ve gotten J. involved a few times. He was my training partner and cheerleader as we ran our first half-marathon, holding my hand as we crossed the finish line, and letting me cross a second before him as he’d promised before the race (so that I wouldn’t be the last one to finish, in case it went that badly, which it didn’t). Still, there have been some tense moments, and he knows that dealing with a woman and her weight is like dealing with a live grenade. Worse, even. A live, hungry grenade.
There was a time when I asked J. to never let me eat ice cream again, and to pry it from my hands if ever I was tempted to indulge. This worked out well, until the day that I decided, firmly and irrevocably, to cave. It wasn’t just a niggling little urge, either. It was deeper, like a primal desire, every fiber of my being crying out for one freaking bite of Breyer’s. And he said no.
“You told me to not let you have it,” he said, holding the carton away from me.
“It’s fine,” I said. “I’ve decided it’s okay.”
He stood firm. “No. Stay strong, babes.”
We argued like this for a little bit, J. not understanding that it is the right of women everywhere to decide they will cheat on their diets whenever they damn well please.
“I. Want. It.” It was a power struggle now.
“I’m just doing what you asked, and you said never, under any circumstances, to let you eat ice cream again,” he said.
And this is where the minds of women get weird – or, my mind, at least. When dealing with food and weight and diets, the smallest thing can set something off, some horrible alarm.
“Oh my God. You think I’m fat.”
J. surrendered the ice cream at once, throwing up his hands and vowing to never get involved in my diet plans again. And, like he always does, he’s stayed true to his word. He tiptoes around the subject now, always saying no when I ask him if something makes me look fat (even if it does), and dumping out rotten lettuce without chastising me for not eating it. I know he feels at a loss sometimes, completely in the dark as to how to navigate the touchy world of weight stuff.
I’ve been on a diet since last Tuesday. I’ve been eating healthy things like raw string beans and strawberries, and working out. Even though I know that it takes more than a few days of fruit to turn around a few months of crap, I was still hoping against hope that my body would have some insane reaction to my days-old diet. Like my fat cells would be jarred out of their slumber and immediately shrink. But they didn’t, and every morning, J. is witness to my battle with the scale. He pretends that he doesn’t notice this ritual, and he lets me wash my face quickly afterwards so he doesn’t see that I’ve welled up just a little bit. He knows I don’t want to talk about it.
The other day, I weighed myself again, and I hadn’t lost a pound. Not even a stupid ounce. I brushed my teeth angrily. After a few minutes, J. spoke, trying to make his comment seem unrelated to my weigh-in.
“You look really good, babes. You’re more toned. Really.”
Whether or not it’s true doesn’t matter. I knew he’d been thinking of how to make me feel better, and how to encourage me without yelling at me to run faster on the treadmill or pulling away the ice cream carton. It was a shot in the dark, and it worked.
Do you and your guy work out together, or is this an activity best done on your own? Does he support you in your diet phases, offer “suggestions,” or stay away and keep his mouth shut? Tell us your stories in the comments!