Lisa Delaney is one of the rare souls who know what it’s like to be an “after.” This journalist and author of Secrets of a Former Fat Girl shed 70 pounds—and six dress sizes–and has kept it off for 20 years. She answers your questions here each week.
DEAR FORMER FAT GIRL: I am an FFG too—lost over 70 pounds (like you) and have kept it off for more years than I can count. I exercise almost every day and am pretty careful about what I eat. I do, though, allow myself to have one treat a day. I’ve been on this dark-chocolate thing, but lately I’ve had trouble stopping at just a few squares. So I decided I can’t have it in the house for a while, at least until my obsession subsides. The problem is my husband: This weekend, he stopped by the grocery store and brought home a six-pack of Hershey’s Special Dark (my favorite). Then yesterday, he bought a pack of Pretzel M&Ms (another obsession) for me at the movies, as a “surprise.” I hadn’t really told him that I was banning chocolate from the house, but we have been married 13 years and he KNOWS how I am about food, treats especially. Is he trying to sabotage me? I don’t want to be ungrateful, but how would you handle this?—Fran
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DEAR FRAN: OK, so you haven’t told hubby about your internal battle against the dark (chocolate) side—what, do you expect him to read your mind? Totally not fair. You can’t expect him, or anyone else for that matter, to understand what you’ve been going through inside. Chances are, HE doesn’t have struggles like that—many people, you know, just EAT. They just don’t think about it all that much. It took me years to understand that not everyone obsesses about food all the time, that there wasn’t this should-I-shouldn’t-I-oh-but-I-can’t-oh-no-I-just-did conversation going on in their minds like there was (is, still, to a great extent) in mine.
Before suspecting ulterior motives, then, you need to talk to your guy. Open up—tell him you’re struggling right now with staying on track. He may think that it’s become automatic for you—my own husband sometimes forgets what I’ve gone through, because day-to-day he sees me making healthy choices and exercising like it’s no big deal. Ask him for his help in keeping on track—just make clear what that means. You don’t need him to police every bite, but be specific in that you’re trying to keep the chocolate out of the house for right now. Ask him not to “surprise” you like that any more—all the while saying how much you LOVE surprises, just the calorie-free kind (a foot rub? A clean house? Some flowers?).
And going forward, remember: You are not like other people. Don’t assume everyone else thinks and feels about food the way you (and I) do. That will help you avoid bad feelings in the future.