Friday, July 6, 2012

Patience (and the Absence of Nagging) Pays Off!

Connors Nubble - Acadia National Park, Maine
June 16, 2012

Eating foods that are known to be "healthy" has never been a huge problem for me.  I love most vegetables and will choose fruit over many other items when looking for a snack.  I've never had a problem with extreme sugar addiction and from the time I first understood that my weight was going to be a problem, I've always known that white carbs would be my nemesis.   

As with all of us, there are exceptions.   Yes, there have been times when I've gone on a sugar binge and eaten quantities I can't even begin to recount.   Many a time, I've settled in with a good book, a BAG of chips, a BOX of triscuits and perhaps, a box of Krispy Kreme cruellers only to regain consciousness five chapters later and realize most of it is gone.   I've gone through the line at potluck church dinners and filled a plate with all that good stuff and before even sitting down devising the plan of how I was going to unobtrusively go back for the second plateful.  

But those ARE exceptions.   For the most part, the reason I have struggled with my weight for so many years is simply the fact that I eat TOO MUCH OF THE GOOD THINGS!  My "stop when full" button is irreparably broken and the good stuff just never stops looking or tasting good! 

My spouse, on the other hand, has a "stop when full" button that operates perfectly normally.  I watch in utter amazement as he pushes away a plate with one bite left on it saying, "I'm full."  Or throws away the bottom half of an ice cream cone, flippantly decclaring, "I'm done!"  Although he's gained a small amount of weight in the 35 years we've been married, he's never had a weight problem, nor will he ever.  His "numbers" are all excellent and we've come to the conclusion that he is very fortunate to have gained his mother's genetic makeup.  She is 81 years old, in excellent health and on no medication.  

BUT HE HAS EATING HABITS THAT CAN ONLY BE CALLED ATROCIOUS!!!  He most certainly does have a sugar addiction, will happily eat fast food six nights a week, would drink coke all day long if I'd buy it for him (I'm too cheap!) and classifies french fries as the only acceptable vegetable.  Maybe once in a blue moon, he'll eat a banana!

It has long been a concern of mine, but particularly over the last year as my weight has come off and my energy level has soared, I've noted that even as healthy as he appears, he is often very sluggish, sleeps a lot, and just doesn't display a lot of "umph."  His argument has always been that he's just tired from all the energy required to teach his class and run the department at this college.  And yes, he puts in an insane amount of hours, but I've long believed that much of the sluggishness is due to his diet.  

But you cannot nag!  We all know this whether referring to ourselves or someone about whom we are concerned!   Change can ONLY come from within.   We can be role models, we can gently express concern, we can share ideas, we can offer support or accountability, but the decision to change can only come from the individual.  

So you can only imagine how I very nearly fell off the top of Conners Nubble in Acadia National Park on June 16 (these are all important details - it's a significant event!) when out of the clear blue sky, Bill said,"do you think I'd feel better and have more energy if I cut out sugar and white flour like you have?"  

Now when you've been hoping (and yes, I'll go so far as to say, fervently praying) for a long time wanting something like this to happen, it's very, VERY hard to remain calm and simply answer, "yes, I believe that with all my heart. You've watched it happen to me."   What I wanted to do was jump up, start some sort of wild happy dance and begin proclaiming loudly that, "thank God, he'd finally seen the light!"   But I just went on to ask if he was thinking about making some changes.   The answer was yes and a promise to talk about it more later.   (Today's picture was taken just shortly after that conversation took place)

"Later" did come with a vague plan that he'd like to lose ten pounds and try the sugar free/white flour free eating for 30 days.  After that, we'll see!!  

I'm happy to report that the 30 days began this past Sunday (July 1) and will end on my birthday (July 30).  With no nagging, no coercion and no questions on my part, he has embraced this fully.  We are walking every morning at 7 a.m. something we traditionally do during the month of July while he's teaching his summer class, but he's already told me he's trying to figure out a way we can continue once his regular schedule returns in the fall.   He's already lost a couple of pounds and on Tuesday, asked me very sheepishly if it was possible that he could already be feeling better.  I replied with a resounding "yes!"  I am thrilled that he doesn't seem to have suffered any degree of sugar withdrawal which is amazing given the incredible amounts of sugar he's been eating with little balance from other food groups.  We're keeping him full of good stuff and maybe his body just forgot about the sugar!

My part of the agreement is to plan our meals (we'll share the cooking), pack his lunch (two meals on nights he has meetings at school eliminating the fast food runs), have plenty of snacks available and answer endless questions that start with, "can I have................?"  I think the thing I'm most enjoying is that we are doing it TOGETHER, something I have so longed for.   This is truly all about him, BUT how quickly I've realized how much easier and more enjoyable it makes MY choices.

As I said earlier, the good news for him is that his "stop when full" button works just fine.  He ate a small dish of ice cream last night at the home of good friends and enjoyed it a lot.  But told me on the way home that it was enough.  That's the philosophy I hope will stick once the 30 days are up.  I also hope the 30 days will be enough time to convince him that what you eat makes a huge difference in how you feel and the results he discovered will be motivation enough to make them permanent.  

He does read the blog and I wrote this with with his permission.   I am very proud of him!   Other than watching me struggle and work so hard to reach and maintain a proper weight, he has no background in healthy eating concepts.  This was a big step for him.   It was also a reminder to me that we are role models and we never know who is watching.  Changes in diet and commitments to a healthier lifestyle can SAVE A LIFE!  Be ever ready to talk about it when asked and eager to share your own story in a way that might encourage someone else.  You just never know when something you've said or done will hit home!

Are you and your spouse/significant other/best friend in this together or are you on your own? 


  1. Good for Mr. B.! I hope he enjoys this journey of self-discovery. Whether he stays with 100% "compliance" or finds an in-between area that works well for him, he'll definitely enjoy greater energy.

    On another note, I'm hearing reports of awful storms in your area. Hope you're doing well.

  2. This is awesome! As I always tell my own husband, who struggles with his weight and healthy eating, it is your own path and your own journey.

  3. My button is busted too, and my husband would have a never ending chip bowl surgically attached to him if it were possible. I completely understand! Yay for you and him!

  4. I'm so happy for you both, Sharon .

  5. Oh I am so envious!!!! No, we are on very different pages. And we have had COUNTLESS conversations about the addictive nature of certain foods. It drove me insane that when my husband decided to try going vegan, supposedly because the the health benefits (like less cancer and other disease), he didn't cut out things like refined sugar. Then, when he backed off to vegetarianism, added back things like cheese so he can eat pizza every day! Veggie pizza. But, white crust, full-fat cheese pizza. How is that healthy?! The list goes on. And sometimes having that stuff around makes ME eat more.

    Oh yes, I can and still do overeat the healthy stuff. Summer fruits right now are a particular problem. I haven't dared by cherries in, hmm, two years, I think.

    Neither my husband or I are able to stop when full. Fortunately, our boys did NOT inherit this trait from us:)

  6. My husband sounds VERY much like yours, and I too learned that modeling the behavior is the key (versus nagging). Mine has had recent sugar elevation (not diabetic, but getting there) and he immediately started cutting back on his carb-heavy diet and started adding more protein to his breakfasts, lunches and snacks. He's never been a soda lover, but I had to tell him that some of the sugary bottled "juices" he thought were so healthy were just as bad as soda. He's also embraced exercising with me :-) I am incredibly lucky to have him for my husband...he's supportive of me in so many ways.

  7. Hooray for Mr. B! Living by example is really the best thing you could have done. That was how it was for John as well. After watching me over the course of year consistently lose weight (slowly), he then decided to make changes himself.

  8. Fantastic! It's so much easier to do this together. Your hubby sounds pretty much like mine except that mine has put on a few pounds from his food choices away from home!

  9. When I joined Weight Watchers in 2002, I changed nothing in my husband's diet. He continued to eat fast food and Little Debbie's and everything else he loved. I made separate meals for us and I reached my goal and went into maintenance. One and a half years after I started WW, he told me that he'd like to try eating like me. I said fine and he lost 85 pounds in about nine months or so. It is definitely easier when we are eating the same food. :)

  10. Way to go, Mr. B. I'm going the carb free route once again. We can go this together.

    My husband, 65MD is incredibly supportive, but doesn't have the weight problem that I do. He tries from time to time to join me in my various quests, but hasn't been able to sustain it. Mostly because he doesn't need to, so the determination just isn't there for him.

  11. Well I don't have the husband problem. But I sure think a lot about how hard it must be to be trying to eat healthy food and to have a spouse eating junk food in the same house. So yay for you guys whose husbands have joined in their healthy lifestyle! (Does he like our muffins yet, or is that an acquired taste?)

  12. Awesomeness. Way to walk the talk. I've influenced my junior family member. She hasn't missed the stuff I don't buy and doesn't notice the amount of unprocessed food that is no longer in the house. I know I influence the people I come into daily contact with, and I always stop to answer questions.

    So excited that you are doing this together. Great for your health, great for your relationship. And you can spend your family income on trips and not disease related expensenses. Even better!!! Safe travels.

  13. My college-age daughter has has a weight problem since high school. I've tried hard not to nag her, knowing it wouldn't help the situation. Then last summer a routine test showed she had borderline high cholesterol. The doc warned my daughter if she didn't change her eating habits, she would be put on medication.

    Well, change comes from within, and this spring my daugher fully embraced diet and exercise. I'm pleased to report she's lost a total of 20 lbs since March! She's home for the summer now, and I'm fully supporting her - keeping the goodies out of the house and getting her a gym membership.

    Glad to hear your hubby has decided to work on living a healthier life! Good luck to you both!

  14. That is wonderful that Mr. B is looking to eat healthier. Eventhough his numbers are good, there is still always a chance of the junk in fast food causing issues down the road. So proud of you guys.

    My husband has a freakishly amazing metabolism, and somehow he has always liked healthy food (I can thank his momma for that). He enjoys his sweet treats too, but he knows what "moderation" means... I am very jealous of his 140lb, 30" waist self. We are active together as well. So while he's not really trying to watch his weight/eating habits, his natural way of eating and living life is a healthy I do benefit from that.

  15. Yippee! High fives all around. I'm happy for BOTH of you. DH was always tall and slim and could eat anything and seconds on everything. Come about mid-50s that changed and he came along with me to WW. He lost 30 pounds, reached goal, and has been a lifetime member for four years. He still has that maddening male-chromosome ability to say he wants to lose weight and then lose it presto-chango in two weeks. I'm still going along and working toward my goal. It's great having DH understand the problems and appreciate my cooking. I only cook one way--everyone here eats the good stuff I cook!