As you know – and why Barbara and I write this blog – it’s not easy finding people who can relate to weight maintenance. Like many of you, I’m more than familiar with reaching goal. I’ve done that dozens of times in my life! But I’ve always been a big rubber ball, bouncing back up the scale the minute I hit that magic number. “I can eat again!” was always my mantra.
Why this time at goal is different has many aspects, but one of the most important reasons is that maintenance inspiration is right here in my own house. My husband is maintaining a 22-pound loss since July 2005, and has introduced me to a way of life I never aspired to: fitness.
Larry’s story is a familiar one. Thin – as in really thin – in high school and college, he gained more than 20 pounds when he went to graduate school. He says it was a change in metabolism, but he also had quit smoking and wasn’t as active as he’d been before. At 23, he took up running (a little known sport at the time) and Purdue had an indoor track (which saved him from freezing to death during the winter). Within a year, he was an avid runner. It was his legs that first attracted me to him in 1996. I’d known him for several years, but didn’t realize he was hiding such bodacious legs under his professor style Land’s End khakis until he ran past my apartment one afternoon. “Damn…he looks good!” I thought as I watched him until he turned the corner.
Fast forward several years.
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine foundthat our risk of obesity increases 37 percent if our spouses are overweight, 57 if our friends are overweight friends and 40 percent if our siblings are overweight. I don’t know if any of my friends or siblings can “blame” me for being overweight, but Larry certainly could. As my weight increased by leaps and bounds from 1999 to 2004, his crept up, too. Much more slowly, but an increase nonetheless. By the time I began losing weight in January 2005, I’d gained more than 100 pounds and he’d gained 25.
Bending over was tough, he said, because he could feel the weight in his mid-section. He went from a 31-inch to 34-inch waist. Unbeknownst to me, he declared his gain “ridiculous” at the same time I started losing weight. We never talked about my weight and I didn’t share with him that I was losing weight until I’d lost 15 pounds (which, starting at nearly 300 pounds, wasn’t noticeable). When he “confessed” that he wanted to lose weight, too, he started eating like me.
Six months later, he was down 22 pounds and back into 31-inch jeans.
Larry and I had a few things in common, but no real uniting or consuming interest. Losing weight together brought us closer and eventually we turned into the one thing I never envisioned myself to be a partner to. We became a “fit couple.”
Before 2007 (well after I’d started this journey), if someone had told me I’d look forward to physical activity as a couple’s pastime, I’d have said, “Exercise? Together? Larry and me? Blech!” Being together meant dinner, a movie, a party. Vacation was spent with my butt firmly planted in a lawn chair. But two years ago when he got me in a canoe for the first time since summer camp in 8th grade, and especially when he bought me my first bike in 28 years when I reached goal, our relationship changed from “You go your way, I’ll go mine and we’ll meet back here in a few hours” to “Let’s hit the trail!”
Now we plan our weekends around the North Country Trail. We’re hoping our next big vacation will be a return to the Adirondacks where rather than me sitting on shore watching him fish in a boat, I’ll be in the boat with him AND accompanying him on the mountain trails instead of driving all around them.
Me capable of maintenance? Me an avid hiking and biking enthusiast? These are things I never thought myself capable of or interested in. But I have a secret weapon.
I’m glad they flashed to Larry’s smiling face during my appearance on the Today Show last week. He deserves every bit of recognition for my success. He is my hero and maintenance inspiration.