• Wed, Apr 17 2013

Don’t Blame Your Relationship if You’re Gaining Weight: You Have Control (But it’s Not Easy)

You can get power over your eating.

You can get power over your eating.

I can’t let other people’s eating habits influence me. My boyfriend is a loving, generous, intelligent, compassionate human being. And that’s why I love him.  Even my body’s started packing a whole ten pounds of extra love for him since we started dating. My boyfriend eats like a child. He loves and values McDonalds and can easily eat dinner at Dunkin Donuts.

He once made me a double cheeseburger (three pieces of bread) with a fried egg at six a.m., after a night of dancing. I could have settled for some water and tylenol. He eats nothing green. When I ask about salad he says, “If I wanted to eat salad, I’d go out and eat the yard.” Seriously.  When he flies home from England (where he’s from), it’s common for him to bring an extra suitcase (yes, an extra suitcase) filled with crisps of all flavors and bars of chocolate. He will occasionally eat an apple or a pear. He doesn’t have food quantity issues—he just doesn’t eat the right food.

 So what’s a girl to do? I could either succumb to those habits or take control. During college, I lived with a roommate who ate lots of candy. It was hard not to, but I was also granted free access to an amazing, expensive gym. These days, as a struggling writer who paid thousands for a Masters degree in poetry of all things, I don’t have an expensive gym membership. But I can’t make excuses.

I read this Women’s Health article yesterday about how lots of couples move in together, and thought about my experiences living with people; I used to live with a partner, and our food habits were much the same. If anything, I ate more than he did. My current boyfriend and I don’t live together, so that’s great, but we do spend a great deal of time together. And when he’s snacking at midnight, I want to too. So I’ve decided, as of late, to try to employ some serious will power. I have tried everything from asking him not to snack in front of me (but I don’t want to control people’s habits) to ignoring it, to using the excellent, amazing app MyFitnessPal.

Once I started counting my calories (I still ate the daily required count), I knew what I had to work with. When I explained what I was working with, he became interested. He started asking, “ooh, what’s in a Capri Sun?” (yes, he drinks Capri Suns and no this isn’t a product placement) or “How many do you have left for today?” He really respected my caloric boundaries and became interested in my journey, and he made sure I was doing it all for good reasons. I think you can ask your partner or roommates to do the same, but it’s also important to not make up excuses (I don’t have money for a gym; I can’t afford good food; All my friends are eating pizza!)

I have found that the best way to counter-attack those temptations and cravings is to be honest and be fair. You can’t entirely control other people. You can push them and teach them, but you can’t change them. If you’re unhappy with your weight or your body image (in a fair, healthy, positive way) you have to take measures that will control that, and well, that includes not entirely blaming other people. Sure, the media has a serious impact on our lives, and I write about that a lot, but when it comes to eating cookies in bed or eating donuts for breakfast over whole grain cereal, we do have the power to take the smart route. It also includes keeping people around you who will try and motivate you to be good for you.
You can always find good food. You don’t have to eat what they’re eating. You can run. I know it’s not easy nor is it ideal, but you do harness everything you need to live well.
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