Sunday, February 25, 2007

How I Know It Can Be Done

Of course we all know it can be done--at least theoretically--but how many people do we know who haven't taken unrealistic, drastic, even obsessive steps to lose weight . . . many of them just to gain back whatever they do manage to lose? How many people do we know who have a happy relationship with food that has taken some adjustment but left them at a reasonable, healthy weight?

But really, there's more to this story. Where should I start?

Around September of 2004, my best friend convinced me to join to look at photos of guys she was talking to on there. (She did finally meet the right guy on Match--they will be getting married next October!) I had to join because Match wouldn't let me look at more than three or four profiles without joining. So I joined . . . and because I'd been through a bad break-up with my first fiance a couple of months earlier, I was excited about at least having some long-distance flirtations with random guys.

I was not excited about dating with how heavy I was, however. I had peaked out somewhere in the 220's while my first fiance and I were still together. I'm not sure how high my weight got, because I quit getting on a scale after 223 popped up there. But shortly after he and I broke up, I was magically down to about 215. I say magically because I didn't do anything in particular; the relief of stress seemed to impact me in a way to let me lose weight. (Funny that breaking up was stress relief, huh? But it was.)

I put up photos of me on Match that were not dishonest--and were at my current weight--but that showed me in the best light. I got a lot of hits on my profile from guys who clicked to read it after looking at my picture, and that was an ego boost for me.

Having been left with two car payments, the full rent, and a variety of other bills in my break-up, I was completely broke, so I didn't pay for a Match membership. I had my email address hidden in my profile in such a way that Match didn't catch it to delete it. Unfortunately, many of the guys who were interested in me didn't catch it, either. So I could read what they wrote me on Match, but I could not reply. I discovered that many of the guys who wrote me thought I was cute but didn't bother to read my profile to see who I was or what I wanted out of dating. Completely inappropriate men wrote me completely inappropriate messages. It got a bit old receiving them.

A month or so later, I decided I was tired of just messing around on Match and that I might actually want to find a guy or guys to date--just casually, I thought. I was planning to move across the country as soon as I had my finances worked out. I did a search for guys who fit what I wanted: politically liberal Christian men between the ages of 25 and 30 with college degrees or higher who were within 60 miles of me. I think there were 8 guys who popped up total. I winked at maybe three of them. A couple of days later, I got an email from one of them, a cute grad student at Georgia Tech. I got not just an email, but an email that was about three pages long that responded to everything I had written on my extensive profile. I wrote him back a long email, and things took off from there.

From email we moved to talking on the phone. The grad student happened to have a conference in DC soon after we started talking on the phone. He continued to call me--we would talk late into the night--but we didn't have a chance to meet.

The night before he was coming home, he told me that his face was hurting from how much he was grinning every day from talking to me and thinking about me. I knew he was pretty smitten, and I was too--but we'd never met.

This grad student looked, from his pictures on Match, to be a fairly thin size. He was very handsome. I was so overweight and so miserable about my weight. I was very anxious about meeting him and seeing whether my weight would keep him from being attracted to me.

The next day, I devised a plan to happen to pop up in Atlanta on an errand and ask whether he wanted to meet me. If he was busy, fine, but if not, I would get our first meeting over with and see whether he was still interested in me once he took in my size.

So I put my plan into practice, completely surprising him. Sure, he wanted to meet up--did I want to get dinner? We set a time and place. I was full of butterflies.

Upon meeting me, he said, "Wow, you are even cuter than your photos." My weight--my size-- was a total non-issue for him. I would kill any of my friends if they pulled a similar move, but I stayed with him that night--a guy I had never met before. There was nothing more than kissing involved, but we stayed up talking and flirting and snuggling. I slept on his bed; he slept on the floor.

It turned out that this guy--who was to become my husband, who was to become the first person (outside of WW, which I had tried earlier) who ever knew my true weight--understood weight issues. He'd been a chunky guy himself, and miserably so: a guy who'd been the friend of many girls but the boyfriend to none. A guy who kept thinking "When I reach ___ pounds, I'll do something about it." (But who never did . . . and his weight crept ever higher.) Then he graduated from college, lost a little weight from the drop in stress, and realized he didn't want to be the type of person who is a picky eater anymore. He started eating a broad number of vegetables, fruits, grains, and meats. He eventually got on a path to intuitive eating that would take him down--no counting points, no calculatingcalories--85 pounds, to 175 pounds, before working back up to around 200 and stabilizing there. (For this 6' tall guy, 175 was so thin the photos from that time are a little creepy.) He lost weight without ever learning about all of the calories in different foods, without learning about fat grams and proper amounts of protein, without obsessing over food the way most of us do with weight loss. His path involved living for a while in Switzerland, living for a while in Japan, working out some, walking a lot, and learning that he really did not need to eat the entire portion of almost any meal he was ever served outside of his home. He had found a general purpose for his work and enrolled in graduate school to study it, and that made him much happier, which helped him lose weight more easily as well. His weight loss journey still took a couple of years. Then he emerged: he was a handsome, trim guy, but he didn't really know that--still struggles with the idea now, actually. He had a girlfriend for the first time, dated her a pretty long time, realized it wasn't working out, and broke up with her. He pined after his best female friend. Then he went on a few Match dates. Then he met me. And while I joke about all the changes I strongly encouraged him to make (new haircut, regular haircuts, no black and brown together, no more pleats, no more tapered jeans!), he was already a wonderful person in every way (well, except fashion) when I met him. And he saw that in me, as well, despite my weight--or maybe I should say including my weight.

I can't find any photos of my husband when he was at his highest weight (how many of us keep those?), but this is one of him I found that was taken not too long after he started losing weight.

And here's another copy of the photo of him that I posted a few days ago. I find it so hard to believe he has no idea how hot he is, but he really doesn't. Partly, it's just that his looks were never terribly important to him, I think, and partly, it's that his self-image (despite all my comments) has never caught up to the changes he's made. (Fat passing for thin, I've heard it called.)

But back to my original point: well, I guess there actually are two. The first is that you shouldn't put off dating or trying out online dating until you're thin, because someone who is perfect for you could be waiting to accept you just as you are. And when you find him, he will love you for you, all of you, through thick and thin, for better or worse. Until I met my husband, I didn't realize how compatible a person you could find, but I found my match, and you can find yours. Don't let your weight stop you from looking.

The other point, the starting point, of this post is this: when my husband and I entered into this relationship, I possessed 95% of the knowledge about food, exercise, nutrition, weight loss, whatever you want to say. But my husband was the one who had managed to learn to listen to his body and reach a reasonable weight--with no obsession and no unreasonable compromises. So I know it can be done, because I live my life every day with a perfect example of intuitive eating accomplished.


metamorphose said...

Thanks for sharing this!

And again, he's extremely good-looking!

Anonymous said...

Yeah- good story to share. I met my life partner online too. Your husband is hot, and he looks nice.

I like your blog.

mamaof2sweetangelboys said...

What a *wonderful* story! I now know whose bog I visited you from~Girl in Georgia's (I responded to your comment about this on my blog) :) Great story~enjoyed this post :)

Sonya said...

I met my husband before the days of the internet (we were just starting university!) - but we were pen pals. So, same concept.

And your hubby is a real cutie!

Cory said...

Thank you for sharing that! Sometimes it's so hard to remember things like that, and y'all are a shining example to those who are looking for love.

Mal said...

I wrote about this idea (of dating even when you're fat) not too long ago on my blog. I met my current boyfriend on, too, and I dated a LOT of guys from who didn't seem to mind my weight. Please keep in mind that when I was actively dating from, I weighed 100 pounds more than you did at your highest.

Many of the men flat out said they wanted to sleep with me, that they found me beautiful, and that they didn't think twice about my weight. They all knew what they were getting into when they first contacted me. Some said that they always preferred larger women; some didn't, as a rule, but found me attractive and weren't turned off by my body below the neck.

One artist I dated said that he was trained classically and so found more "Rubenesque" women to be his preference. He was French, too. Ooh, la la.

The thing is, (and, not to be obvious here but...) I think most women think a lot more about their weight than men do. I'm the first overweight woman my current boyfriend has ever dated. He's quick to point out that he's not a "chubby chaser," that he doesn't look at fat-girl fetish porn, etc. But, he does like natural-looking women. He likes women to look the way they look, and to feel comfortable doing so. He despises plastic surgery and painful "beauty procedures" and other things which are uber prevalent here in LA and gaining popularity elsewhere.

Anyway, I guess what I'm saying is that I think most women would be surprised to learn how many men are attracted to them if they just put on a good attitude and be themselves. You and I both learned that lesson, and it was worth it. It takes a certain courage to live your life even when you are not at your ideal, but it is worth the effort.

Kitty said...

You know how much I needed to hear this, and also all of these comments.

Linds said...

Awww that was a cute story! Your post made my day, as I'm always a sucker for a good love story! I think the moral of the story is an important one as well because I think sometimes being overweigh I put alot off, telling myself that I need to be a certain weight before I can do it. I know that's garbage, and I need to get out of that mind set. Thanks for the reminder that sometimes our weight is just a number that has no bearing on what we can and cannot do in our lives!

PearShapedGirl said...

That's a great story, thanks for sharing Veggie! I used to shy away from dating because of my weight, even though I always seemed to have guys that were interested. I just never felt comfortable with myself. When I met my now-husband he made me feel great and seemed to be oblivious to the fact that I was overweight. I've gained and lost a million pounds since I've met him, and he doesn't seem to notice, he just loves me for me. You're right, there is no other feeling in the world like truly being loved!

Take care,

CaramelKitKat said...

What a story!

The biggest thing is that you can see, really see, his eyes. I always think my eyes look small, but maybe if my face wasn't so big...

Take care,


Rachel said...

Wow! Your husband is hot hot hot! Congrats!

Excellent post! It really did open my eyes and not only make me want to listen to my body more (rather than my usual obsessive calorie counting), but it also made me realize I need to calm down and try to be more confident (which, believe me, I am not). So glad everything worked out for you!!!

Tee said...

Very well said...and it has so much truth behind it. I am glad that you two found each other. What a MATCH???

B.T.W. Your Mister is handsome!!!

Sarah said...

Thank you so much for sharing with us all! I joined match about a month ago and I am still trying to figure out the ins and outs of the site. I went on my first date with the first guy I was even comfortable meeting up with last week. While I don't think it will turn into a relationship it was a great experience. I just wish Nashville had a little bit more of a selection =)

AzĂșcar said...

I just LOVED this story.

Georgia Girl said...

yep your husband's a hottie!
thanks for sharing the sweet story of how you met. interesting point about how he was able to lose so much weight without the obsessing. i think men and women approach weight loss so differently. look at the ratio of women to men on health/weight loss blogs!

Anandi said...

Wow, what a great post. And I can't believe those two pics are the same person!!

Congratulations to you guys. And yay for him losing weight through intuitive eating. I'm hoping to do the same.