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…a book by its cover (part II of II)

By Dalene Rowley

This post has been rolling around my head for a couple of years now, but I’m glad it was the long, lanky and lovely Michelle L. who laid down the genes card first.

In her post last week, Michelle asked several questions. I’d like to respond to a couple of them from my perspective.

Do you see bias against overweight people?

According to the world, I am a misfit (see any cute plus-size clothes at Old Navy or The Gap?). I don’t belong (a survey out last year reported that people asked how they felt about working with the “handicapped” were most uncomfortable working with fat people). I shouldn’t dare be successful (remember Jordin Sparks?).

But when I look at photographs from one side of my family, I know exactly how I fit in. And I know I belong. I look at each of my similarly shaped aunts and cousins (not all—it takes two sets of genes and some people get lucky I guess) and I see wonderful loving, giving successful, happy people.

Yet I know from experience what I see is different from what others see.

At least twice in the past several months I have been preached to over the pulpit in ways that, in essence, accused heavier-built people of not living their religion or obeying the Word of Wisdom. Of being less worthy.

Many of the assumptions people make about what I like to call “the horizontally challenged” have been quite evident in the comments sections of recent Segullah posts about body shape and image.

Studies suggest that the overweight are treated differently even by their own doctors, who label their patients as “awkward,” “unattractive,” “ugly” and “noncompliant.” Another study reports that health professionals strongly associate being overweight with being “lazy” and “stupid.” (from the Washington Post)

Yet things are not always as they appear.

Two friends of mine offer an interesting study in contrasts. One is tall, slim and gorgeous. She works out occasionally. Yet her nutrition plan consists of eating food prepared at McDonald’s. Another friend of mine works out regularly. She could run miles and miles around many of us. She competes in more than a dozen half-marathons and marathons every year. Yet she does not at all look like a runner. Or even someone who works out. Her size and shape completely belie her activity and fitness level.

Sometimes it’s the heavier people themselves (or rather the former heavier) who perpetuate the stereotypes. I see it as a real disservice to the people who aren’t eating entire large pizzas and half-gallons of ice cream or six Big Macs in one sitting when the handful of people who do tell their respective stories as if their habits are universal.

The causes of the weight of the world are no more simple or universal than “the cure.”

Recently I sat at a dinner table with some friends. Some of the children in that particular family resemble their mother—long and lean. To be honest, “incredibly skinny” would be more accurate. The children who take after their father, however, resemble him so much they are sometimes mistaken for him. But that side of the family is not so lean. During the meal, I noticed one of the daughter’s rail-thin arms as she raised a spoonful of food from her full plate and listened as she told another relative—one who was not so lean—about an acquaintance who had recently lost a good deal of weight. While she didn’t come out and say it, the message was clear, “It really was that easy. You should totally do that.”

The truth is, for those who struggle with the weighty issue of extra pounds—whatever the reason–taking it off is not as simple as “put down that chocolate.”

Think about the most powerful woman in the country. Her power of persuasion can influence people on what to buy, what books to read and even what politicians to support. The mighty O can buy and build anything she wants. She has a entire staff (what I wouldn’t give to have my own staff!) at her beck and call. But even with all her power, there seems to be one thing she still can’t conquer. Over the years she continues to struggle with her weight. If she and her staff of cooks and trainers find it difficult, it’s a miracle mere mortals like the rest of us even try. (But most of us keep trying anyway.) If that should tell you anything it should tell you that it simply isn’t that easy.

Why do you think the Lord gave us unique situations rather than a more uniform life experience?

In a recent discussion about women and their bodies, my friend Courtney suggested that our physical bodies (whatever type they are) are somehow connected to our missions on this earth.

I’ve been pondering her statement. I don’t have any answers, but I have slowly come to realize the challenges we face from inside our very different shaped bodies can be quite unique.

I watch my teenage daughter, who, I am proud to say, has never heard her mother say one disparaging word about her own body. At least at this point, she resembles a side of her father’s family. Part of me rejoices in the hope she may never know some of the pain I have known. Yet already I notice that having natural beauty and a great body is not without its own challenges. I watch as she sometimes struggles with vanity and pride, between the difference of superficiality and substance. I see the difficulties that can arise when one is noticed, judged and treated differently—even objectified—because of looking good.

Perhaps the blessings are unique as well.

Recently I bumped into a friend of mine who has lost some weight. While we were visiting, people kept coming up to her “I didn’t recognize you.” “You look great!” (I said that, too. And I meant it. But I always said that to her and I meant it before she lost weight.) “You look so beautiful now!” I couldn’t help but saying out loud at least once that she has always been beautiful. Because to me, she has. Granted now she looks different, but I have truly never defined her beauty by her physical appearance.

It pains me to know that there are people—even people I love, who equate beauty and worth and even worthiness with a certain body type. After putting everyone else first for oh, so long, I currently find myself in a position in which the stars of everyone else’s schedule, finding the right workout partner, and—at least on a good day—a break from injuries and arthritis have lined up enough that I’ve recently returned to the gym. I don’t care about being thin. I will never—unless I get very sick—be thin. (The only times in my life I have been average were either when I was obsessed–riding my bike from way south of BYU campus up to my gym in Orem for back-to-back classes of aerobics–or depressed–through a period of anxiety during my mission in which I couldn’t eat and my stomach was so sick I lost 10 pounds in less than a week. I don’t care to revisit either again–trust me, I’m a much nicer person when I’m not obsessed.)

But I do want to be more fit.

It’s likely that as I continue my current course I may shed a few pounds.

But I’ll be honest with you. If people treat me differently–suddenly becoming more interested, more friendly or more affectionate with me–or if someone happens to say, “You look so beautiful now,” it’s going to sting a little. Because even a few inches smaller on the outside, I will still be the same person on the inside as I am right now. Just as smart, sometimes snarky, compassionate, loving, deserving of being loved and worthy.

On your body: Do you think the physical appearance and characteristics of your body are tied to your mission on earth? How so?

On biases and stereotypes: What biases do you have about heavier people? skinny people? do you think your kids pick up on your ideas about body image and weight?

On relationships: Do you feel a person has an obligation to remain fit for and attractive to his or her spouse? Does that spouse have an obligation to love that person “for better or worse?”

On vanity: Do you feel you are more preoccupied (or obsessed) with your physical appearance when you are out of shape or when you are in good shape?

About Dalene Rowley

Began blogging as a legitimate way to avoid housework and to keep a journal of sorts. In her other life she wants to be excellent at a number of things, but in this one she's settling for baking a mean sour cream lemon pie, keeping most of the points on her quilt blocks in line, being a loyal friend and aspiring to moments of goodness as a wife and mother.

62 thoughts on “…a book by its cover (part II of II)”

  1. Dealing with either fighting the weight or 'giving in' to it for those of us who without effort will inevitably only get heavier is a continual burden to carry. One that, and no wonder, may lead to back-lash excesses as we feel ourselves slipping in any exercise/diet routine. Carrying a burden, any burden, for a lifetime is a unique challenge with unique lessons to teach.

    I like to hear how people have healthily dealt with the issue of weight in their lives. Thanks for sharing your story Dalene.

    Here's what having a family history of weight problems and dealing with the continual up and down in my own weight has taught me:

    Reserve judgment
    Use empathy

    For those lessons, I am grateful.

  2. I don't know if my body size is tied to my mission on Earth. I do however feel that others will have to face the harsh judgements they make about me based on my size.
    I try not to stereotype people, but I can tell when someone has a fear of overweight people. I try to help my kids live active happy lives and I try to never equate their body shape with what I think of them.

    I don't think a marriage should be based on outside appearence and if it is what kind of marriage is that? I know alot of women who say, "My husband would be mad if I didn't lose the baby weight, ect.." I feel sorry for them. My husband loves me unconditionally, like my Heavenly Father. I am happy to spend an eternity with him.
    I only feel preoccupied about my looks when I know I'm going to have to spend time with people who are judgemental. My sister was two months premature and she has always been extra skinny. She is so caught up in her looks that when I spend a day with her it takes a week for me to feel good about myself again.
    Honestly, I like two slices of pizza, a piece of cake at a birthday, and mashed potatoes every once in a while. In order to be skinny I would have to give those things up forever. I don't want to! Heavenly Father never said He would stop loving me if I made these choices. Why do other's feel they have the right to judge me based on them?

  3. I think the important thing is not to judge. There is a lot about your physical appearance that you can control, but there is way more that you can't control. The main thing that you can control is your attitude and your relationship with your Heavenly Father, you Maker. When I see friends who are gaining weight or losing weight, I am most concerned about how they feel about themselves–which in either case could be good or bad. I know I've been in places where I'm losing weight and I still feel bad about myself or gaining weight and I try to pretend that I don't care. I have learned that I can find a happy medium with the Lord's help to not obsess about either side of the spectrum. Yes, the right attitude is easier said than done. For me, with all the oppressive attacks from the world about body image bombarding me every day, I need a steady relationship with my Heavenly Father to keep teaching me about who I am and how to become who I'm meant to be. I know I'll never be skinny as a rail, but I also know that I can feel good about myself when I'm diligently seeking the Lord's help.

  4. Thank you for this post. I have struggled with my weight my whole life (although when I look back at pictures in high school…I wasn't overweight, I just thought I was). I'm usually ignored by people, and it's hard to make friends, mostly because 1) I don't trust anyone based on how I've been treated in the past and 2) People have biases whether they will admit it to themselves or not. I've seen it time and time again with aquaintences…little comments here and there, never really understanding how damaging their words are.

    I was really disturbed by comments associated with the last article, and frankly I feel like you can't get through to some people. If they've not experienced being overweight, most people can't overcome their narrowminded thoughts planted by society (especially major media).

    They will never understand how genes can play a role in body shape and type. They will never understand what it is like to suffer with depression and have food be the comforter. They will never understand that some diseases can cause weight gain, and there is nothing that can be done about it.

    But, the same is true with a lot of things in life: drugs, alcohol, morality, abuse, modesty, religion, etc…etc… We judge people based on our own narrow experiences in life, and usually we are just plain wrong. Thankfully Heavenly Father is a righteous judge. If I had to be judged by society (or even just my "friends," I can't imagine getting very far in this life or the next.

  5. I'm lucky – I was gifted with a good metabolism, so in spite of being a really, really big eater, I'm not very large. However, I've been large. And I've also been much too thin. And I know it's not as simple as putting down the chocolate, and that the "right" weight is different for everyone.

    I know many people who insist that overweight folks are unhappy. "There's just no way you can be happy when you look like that." This drives me crazy. When conversations around me turn to weight, as they often do, I chime in no matter who's talking about it. Sometimes I feel like a broken record: "You are lucky that weight isn't a struggle for you. You have no idea what makes them that way. Being heavy and being happy are not mutually exclusive. Mind your own business."

    Ultimately, I think one day we'll cross to the other side and be totally embarrassed by how much energy we spent fretting about weight.

    I'll cop to being a little inwardly judgey over extremely skinny people. I know it's wrong and I should take my own advice (mind your business), but I also know that very few people are naturally a size 2 (especially after having kids) – and I wonder what they're sacrificing to look that way.

  6. i have never been skinny, but after i got pregnant i gained a lot of weight and was obese. after my second child i was even more obese, but was able to keep all my friends and really never saw a difference in how i was treated. but then we moved, and then suddenly nobody wanted to know me…it was like i was invisible. i really struggled in that ward because i had never found it hard to make friends until we moved and people didn't know me as a thinner person. during this time i had gastric bypass surgery and lost 100 pounds, and as i lost the weight i made more and more friends. isn't that funny? and sad?

    we moved again, across the country, and as soon as we went to church i was amazed at how easy it was to make friends with my new and improved body. i was always the same person, but my outward appearance had changed. and apparently that makes all the difference. even among lds people. it makes me a little sad.

  7. I admit to bias: I assume that thin pretty people are not smart or serious people.

    Sorry thin pretty people! I know I am often wrong. I have had many many people break this stereotype for me, but I still find it crops up here and there. I'm working on it.

  8. I ask how it effects my ability to serve the Lord. If I am obsessing over my weight (either fat or thin) then it takes my focus off the Savior. Now much of my day is spent dealing with physical therapy and pain (from an undiagnosed illness), so also a situation where my focus is taken off serving the Lord and my fellow man. I rack my brain trying to find solutions, trying to pray for an end, so that I can be whole.

    In the end it doesn't really matter though. I am asked to go forward with faith. So I limp along much slower than everyone else, but I'm there!

    Let's find the commonalities in our struggles, even though our struggles may not be identical.

  9. ~j–thanks for being such a great workout partner. thanks for being my friend.

    mara–you said what i wanted to say in so many less words:

    "Reserve judgment
    Use empathy"


    thank you

    april–i think it's human nature. we like to sort things. i am happy for you that you know your husband and your heavenly father love you unconditionally. those are hard concepts to wrap one's head around sometimes.

    jennifer–i appreciate what you said about allowing heavenly father to keep teaching us who we are and how to become who we are meant to be.

    the first christy–there is an old saying about not judging someone until you have walked a mile in their moccasins. so true. so true. i live a richer life when i try hard to live by that.

  10. I had to get weighed at the doctor's last month, and I weighed 15 pounds more than I had been assuming for the past year. And then (since I was at the doctor's for a miscarriage) I counted up how much I would weigh at the end of a pregnancy if I didn't change anything.

    So I stopped drinking Mountain Dew. Again. You know how you hear all those stories about how men stop drinking soda and lose 40 pounds? Yeah, wasn't that miraculous for me, but I see lots of other great changes in how I feel.

    I think it's worthwhile to examine ourselves honestly and see that a) obviously I shouldn't be drinking that much caffeinated soda everyday, and b)even though I'll never be thin, I need to be healthy, no matter how I look.

    I think Heavenly Father does a good job of loving us unconditionally while at the same time giving us pretty strict commandments (even about food). Somehow we have to be both honest with ourselves and also loving. Get the help we need to be HEALTHY, and accept the genetic things we can't change.

    If you read Jennifer at Conversion Diary (I think I've linked to her before on here, but she's a great religious writer), she wrote about the Saint Diet, and how you have to make the changes in your relationship with food for the sole purpose of serving God better — not so you'll look better or be more acceptable to society, but so that you're as healthy (and non-addicted/dependent) as you can be to better serve God.


  11. I think there are two sides to this issue. Most of us that feel we have weight issues are probably in the category of trying to be healthy but realizing we will never have supermodel figures. And I think most of us have had a wide enough range of numbers on the scale to see it a bit more compassionately. As someone who struggled to keep my weight normal even in high school and gains the maximum with pregnancy and then goes against the (untrue) stereotype for breastfeeding by GAINING MORE weight, I can sympathize with the many women and mothers in this situation. Though I find myself feeling like I need to defend my backwards body trend to my friends who go back to their pre-pregnancy jeans within weeks. And then I work really hard as my babies age to lose the weight and I eventually do. I'm not saying this is possible for everyone, but I know that it is my expectation of getting to a healthy (not ideal by world standards) weight that actually allows me to accomplish my goal. And to look at many in my family tree would seem to make this a very difficult challenge.

    I realize I am running the risk of butting heads here, but what I'm saying is that maybe our genetic expectations play a role, and not just our DNA itself. There is a lot of new research showing that our emotions and thoughts actually control the genetic expression of our cells by using the membrane to tell our DNA what to do.
    In this light, would our negative thoughts about ourselves and others and our futile expectations actually perpetuate our weight issues? Would simply believing that we have to conform to our genetics make it impossible to lose weight no matter what we ate? I only bring this up because I think it gives even more impact to the idea of how we treat ourselves and others based on external values.

    The second side of the issue I see is the morbidly obese who, like mentioned in the OP, frequently make this issue difficult to discuss because they are the stereotype of "fat". Do we "judge" these individuals by way of discerning whether they need help in overcoming severe issues? What would we do if someone we knew was an obvious anorexic or alcoholic? Do we ignore the tell-tale signs of needing help and love because we don't want to judge based on appearances?

    I do believe my body is helping me in my mission on earth, and not just because of my weight issues. It is teaching me eternal truths in all of it's struggles and challenges. And as for being preoccupied…I'm definitely more aware of my body image when my clothes don't fit right, but once I am in a comfortable range I really don't think about it too much. And where marriage is concerned…I think there are lines that can be crossed, but that it is necessary for us to learn to show and accept love despite differences that this life brings in appearances. I think drastic changes are unfair to spouses, but the change that comes with living is part of what we are here for.

  12. I honestly have no idea whether or not our appearance is tied to our mission on earth. It is not something I have thought about in relation to myself.

    I used to be the skinny girl. The one that was so skinny that other people made fun of her. The one that could eat anything and still struggle to keep up my weight. The one that could not find clothes to fit. I avoided exercise because I did not want to nor need to lose wieght. The daily cycle riding on my mission combined with lots of walking meant that I ended my 18 months weighing less than 6 stone. When I married at age 31 I was tiny. I look back at my wedding dress and am amazed by the size of it. How could I ever have fitted into that waist with so little fabric there? My wedding dress is all that I have left in my old size. Life changed when I had children. Suddenly my body worked differently and I barely recognised it. Now I have an average body I suppose, one that can gain weight by looking at a chocolate bar. I do not diet as such, I want to enjoy food so I do. If I over indulge one day I eat less the next. Am I biased towards heavier/skinny people? I hope not because I do understand that some of it is down to genes.

    Personally speaking I think the relationship issue is the most controversial. Some think that you absolutely have an obligation to stay looking good for the spouse. Others think unconditional love should take care of everything. My husband is another skinny person whose body has not changed an inch since our marraige. I don't mind the grey hair and he can't help the bald patch. He loves me as I am now despite my altered shape. Actually I believe we have an obligation to ourselves to make the most of what we have, and we should learn to love ourselves no matter where we are on the body spectrum.

    I can say that I am more preoccupied with my body when I am feeling uncomfortable in my clothes. If my clothes feel fine I don't care.

    As a child I just wanted to be normal. I did not want to be noticed because of how I looked. Now I just want to be happy and have peace in my life. How I look is still part of my life but no longer of such importance.


  13. On your body: Do you think the physical appearance and characteristics of your body are tied to your mission on earth? How so?
    If part of my mission is to learn to control bodily appetites and passions, then yes.

    On biases and stereotypes: What biases do you have about heavier people? skinny people? do you think your kids pick up on your ideas about body image and weight?

    i think anyone who doens't think their kids are aware of their stance on bodies is in major denial. whether directly or indirectly, we convey our attitudes and positions about everything, including body types. and they pick up on it like little empaths. their awareness of it and response to it changes depending on their age, but yeah, whether we speak out loud about things or not, we pass along our beliefs and biases.

    On relationships: Do you feel a person has an obligation to remain fit for and attractive to his or her spouse? Does that spouse have an obligation to love that person “for better or worse?”
    re: the question "for better or worse"…isn't that what we pledge in marriage vows?

    and i don't know about the word "obligation", but certainly doing what we can, while we can couldn't hurt matters. we were all, presumably, somewhat attractive to our spouses in the first place. as we age together, taking care of our health and well-being through proper nutrition and hygiene AS POSSIBLE based on strength and vitality, are ways we not only honor the bodies we've been given, but it makes it easier to appreciate and be attracted to the spouse.

    On vanity: Do you feel you are more preoccupied (or obsessed) with your physical appearance when you are out of shape or when you are in good shape?
    Yes. And Yes. just yesterday i started this 12-week "healthy choices challenge". we get up to 4 points a day for each of the following:
    * Healthy Food: 1 point if you don't eat any junk food or treats.
    * Enough Sleep: 1 point if you get 7 or more hours of sleep.
    * Exercise: 1 point for your choice of exercise for at least 35 minutes
    * Personal Goal: 1 point for working towards the goal of your choice.
    there are 22 of us doing it. we each put in $20 to participate and there are cash prizes for the winners, but everyone who participates wins by making healthier life choices. i've been struggling with eating and not exercising for a while now, and though i don't want to do this and give up my habits, i'm making myself do it. one day down…hoping i see enough benefit through the next 83 days to keep the habits going when it's over.

  14. I have struggled with eating disorders since I was a Beehive, and I can confirm that the adversary wants us to be preoccupied with our physical appearance. The more we are consumed with the fleeting aspects of our bodies, the less we are able to feel the Holy Ghost and follow his promptings. And when we are focused on ourselves, we are not able to serve others as we should.

    That being said, I have been able to conquer the most obvious of the ED behaviors, but I still struggle with the body dysmorphia. Watching Ruby I think "I am almost as big as she is. I should be careful" when, honestly, we have a few HUNDRED pounds between us. When asked by my husband about my weight, I always tell him I look most like my heaviest friends. And I honestly see it that way. It is a crazappy way to see the world, but there you have it.

    And I am incredibly sensitive about passing these ideas on to my daughter. When I exercise it is all "to have a healthy body with strong muscles." And she will never hear of me dieting. I want her to be ready to serve the Lord, free from crazy image hangups.

    And you are beautiful Dalene, no matter what the scale says. You are one of my favorites.

  15. Thank you, Dalene…for finally posting this. I've been waiting for it.
    On your body: Do you think the physical appearance and characteristics of your body are tied to your mission on earth? How so?
    ~I don't know. This question to me is like "Which came first, the chicken or the egg?" … and maybe that right there is my answer. If I believe in the plan, then I must believe that it probably is tied.
    On biases and stereotypes: Yes, I have them. Yes, I've felt them. Yes, my kids pick up on it…
    On vanity: Do you feel you are more preoccupied (or obsessed) with your physical appearance when you are out of shape or when you are in good shape? out of.

  16. All I know is I've been in both places and while I'm not skinny now by modern standards, I do find it easier to do so many things than when I weighed 50 lbs more.

    My goal is to be as fit as I can be before my next cancer screen because I have this sneaking suspiscion that I'm not quite through with that trial and I'd like to give myself every advantage I can.

    For me, it did start with "putting down the chocolate" but it wasn't that simple. I also put down the diet soda, added in more green food and less dairy products. I began exercising more than I had been, stretching the limits of what I thought was possible for me. I used to find solace in my food (still do on occasion) but I am trying to change my perspective.

    I feel like I've lost an emotional burden that weighed 50 lbs – my spirit feels lighter. It sounds strange, but it's true. I only hope I can keep this new found lightness.

  17. the second christy–thank you for allowing us to be happy. and i appreciate your candor.

    anon–thank you so much for sharing your story.

    ESO–i guess that's the beauty of giving someone a chance–and truly getting to know them. i can be mind-opening. thanks for your honesty.

    jendoop–agreed. there is so much to be learned when we allow ourselves to find what we have in common. i think it helps build relationships in which we are less afraid of the differences.

  18. Last October I hit my highest point on the scale, including when I was 9 months pregnant! My mom had just died, I was grieving deeply, and eating lots of junk. I had gotten to the point where I was unhappy even looking at myself in the mirror! So I stopped eating fat and sugar and cut out regular sodas and almost a year later I have lost 30 lbs and I feel better and I don't mind seeing myself in the mirror. But not everybody can do that.

  19. jane–i agree it is important to be honest with ourselves. i like that you gauge your success on how you feel, not just how you look or what the scale tells you.

    corktree–i am not at all using genetics as an excuse. i'm simply saying there are numerous reasons and different responses for each. and that it's harder for some than for others. also, i believe everyone needs and deserves love. as to whether or not someone might need my "help," if there were someone who may have an issue serious enough they required intervention, I would hope to rely on the spirit to discern a course of action. i believe that would only be my place if i were a very close friend or relative.

    kay–happiness and peace. sounds good to me!

    blue–thank you for your frank responses. that kind of leads me to a rather pointed question, which is not at all directed at you, but to anyone: do you find yourself assuming that because someone is skinny they are necessarily better at controlling appetites and passions?

    la yen–thank you. and you are one of mine, as well. i think we could devote an entire other post to the distorted ways (and not just physically) through which we see ourselves.

    b.–thank you for your responses. i believe kids pick up on a lot more subtleties (or sometimes not so subtleties) than we sometimes realize.

    mrs. o—oh i do so very much hope you are through that trial.

    got to get to work now–more later. and thanks everyone for your willingness to discuss…

  20. I got all hung up on the biases and stereotypes and didn't look deeply at the other questions, but I LOVED them. This really is a great post.

    To the first: Yes, yes, yes. I believe every part of us is specifically tailored to what we need and to what the Lord needs from us. Interestingly, it will change, as I think Courtney has said in some posts. The body has seasons.

    To the third: This is a tough one. I think if we're honest, physical attraction played a big part in getting married for most of us. BUT. Just like you don't have to be thin to be happy, you don't have to be thin to be attractive. I assume this is one of those things that varies with each couple. Of course ideally you'd love your partner no matter their weight, but we're not perfect and for some I'm sure it's a challenge.

    To the fourth: Again, yes, yes, yes. And I am positive that this is a bad thing (at least for me). Fixating on personal "imperfections" is unhealthy and (like Yen said) repels the Spirit. The same thing happens when we swing too far the other way and become obsessed with the perfection. (I know.)

  21. I have to say that I have a problem with the cultural double standard of women "needing to stay attractive for their husbands", but husbands can just look like–well, whatever. Why do women need to be the twigs?

    And what about cultures like Samoa or even Eastern Europe where "well rounded" women are appreciated and even revered as rich and well fed?

  22. I have often wondered myself about the marriage thing. I come from a family of skinny people. I am the heaviest of my 10 siblings, but considering I'm almost 43 and my last 3 kids were triplets, I'm not too heavy.

    My husband, on the other hand, looks like most of his family. They all have the exact same overweight body shape.

    I work to stay fit. Most of the time I watch what I eat, and I exercise (very moderately) often. My husband, who is much more relaxed and easy going than I, does not. He doesn't worry about what he eats, and he rarely exercises. It is very easy for him to decide that he's just not going to think about his weight now.

    I love him dearly. He is a wonderful man. He is an awesome father and we have a great life together.

    My issue is that in not taking care of his physical well-being (no exercise, lots of caffeinated soda, now lots of sugar-free caffeinated soda, which I think might be worse) he is developing health problems that impact our relationship now and will only get worse as we age.

    I try to remind myself that there's a flip side of every personality, and that there are down sides to his lovely relaxed temperament, but this is still frustrating to me…

  23. What a great post. I've been thinking a lot about this lately as I've lost and gained the same 10 pounds about 5 times, just this year. I think I need to concentrate more on health, than weight. My mom is a health fanatic. And yet she struggles with her weight. I know that learning how to treat our bodies, and how to deal with our bodies, has to be one of the tests we get as a mortal being.

    And I have a argh moment I have to share. Last Sunday my husband came home from church VERY irritated. I didn't know why. After a bit he said he was bugged that one of the 16 year old boys he teaches came up to him, poked him in the belly, and just laughed. Are you kidding me?!?! Let's just say I wanted to march right over to his house and tell him off. Where is the respect? What are we, as parents, teaching our kids? It's not like my husband doesn't know he's carrying a little extra. Come on! I told him his next lesson needs to be on respect.

    I love you Dalene, for sharing. I wish sometimes we were all the same, but then again, where's the fun in that? And how would we learn not to judge?

  24. As an obsessive personality, I've found that the only time I have room in my brain for any other thoughts is when I'm on top of my diet and really watching my portions. The minute I start to indulge I get preoccupied with stress and worries and counting my day's calories as I fall asleep and I can't focus enough to even say a complete personal prayer. People always think that's really weird but it's just how I'm wired.

    I've been trying to get pregnant for a year and some change and so for me the body issue has been huge. Do I need to gain weight or lose weight to give my body an advantage in conceiving? Am I too thin for a baby? Etc. etc. Finally I saw a fertility specialist who told me "Your body is working perfectly, your body is strong" and it blew me away. I had never given my body credit for doing all these things! I had assumed all along that it was broken, or lame, or not doing its job; that I had to micromanage it. That I was in charge. I'm not in charge. None of us are in really charge of our bodies.

    Anyway, I'm still not pregnant and I'm still struggling with having faith in my body. I'm not obese and never have been but I know what it's like to doubt your body, doubt what it can or can't do, feel judged for not having a body that does what other bodies does, all of that, and I think that as women we all can relate to that, no matter what our shape. Anyway, this might not really be what you were looking for Dalene but it was on my mind. Thanks for the post, it was wonderful to read.

    (I feel like I can honestly say I do not judge women by their weight, though I knew a few of my husband's friends who do and I have to say it is the most disgusting attitude a man can have and the biggest turn off. Jerks.)

  25. I have never been heavy, but I think I have things in my life that are similar, so I understand in a way. Here is what I find disturbing: Three times in my life I have lost weight from being sick. After each illness, people kept complimenting me on my my shape. "Hey, you got pneumonia, wow you look great!" "Oh the stomach flu has done wonders for you." Its disturbing. Like I said, I have never been heavy, always small side of average. But sickly thin gets compliments apparently.

  26. On your body: Do you think the physical appearance and characteristics of your body are tied to your mission on earth? How so?

    My patriarchal blessing talks about my body two times and how I need to take care of it so it can stay strong. Since I was a teenager I have been interested in nutrition and exercise and I really feel like it is something the Lord wants me to do. As I learn more about being healthy I feel a moral and spiritual obligations to live what I have learned. Having a healthy body is a means to an end. They healthier I am the more I can serve and be productive.

    On relationships: Do you feel a person has an obligation to remain fit for and attractive to his or her spouse? Does that spouse have an obligation to love that person “for better or worse?”

    Of course we should love our spouse no matter what but honestly if my husband totally let himself go I would have a problem with it. But it is not just about looks either I think we have an obligation to our spouse and families to be as healthy as possible because having bad health affects them. We don't really belong only to ourselves once we are in a family.

    On vanity: Do you feel you are more preoccupied (or obsessed) with your physical appearance when you are out of shape or when you are in good shape?

    When I am doing what I know I should – exericising, sleeping well, eating right then I feel awesome and I don't worry about it ( even if I am carrying a few extra pounds). When I am not doing what I know to be right I feel guilty and bad.

    On biases and stereotypes: What biases do you have about heavier people? skinny people? do you think your kids pick up on your ideas about body image and weight?

    I try not to judge other on appearances and I realize that everyones situation is different. I think some people will be heavy no matter what they do but I think some heavy people are in denial about how their lifestyle contributes to their weight issues. I think here in America most people do not have a clue as to what it really means to eat helthy and I think in some ways there is a conspiracy in the food industry to keep americans fat. I think if some people made a drastic change in how they ate they would see a difference.

    Also – maybe this isn't a popular idea but I think Heavenly Father expects us to make hard food choices and not just do what feels good.

  27. I have an addiction to food. Dealing with my current relationship I have turned to food for comfort, well I say that but looking back I can see it started a long time ago. I have prayed, gone to the temple, restricted what I have eaten and have failed time and time again. From what I have studied about addiction (pornography, drug) food addiction very real. Just like a person can drink without becoming an alchoholic, or take medications without being a drug user there are people who can eat without any problems. I have to start weaning myself off of "worldy" foods and focus on the things that have been approved of in the word of wisdom. When I overeat I can feel the spirit leave me. I have gained 70 pounds since I've been married, and I am fat because I have used food to help me cope. I have stopped worrying what others think of me, and am surrounded my many good friends who weigh much less than me, but love me for who I am and I love them sooo much.

  28. Thin people can have a hard time too. When people often make comments such as, "Oh, you never have to worry about what you eat." and push desserts on you that you'd rather not have, and say, "You could stand to gain some weight." And when they make comments about how skinny you are, and ask nosy questions like how much you weigh and what your clothes size is. It's like they think that you won't mind people talking about your weight because you're in a position that your society considers privileged. And they take this tone that oozes with envy and you can't really do anything to assuage the envy except maybe hide in baggy clothes or something.

  29. This is such a hard issue to deal with–somebody mentioned on the plastic surgery post something regarding loving the beautiful body God gave us because it's perfect.

    But that's not true, no one's body is perfect because this is a fallen world. My husband's body has been ravaged by an awful disease, and he suffers from the "Oh, my gosh, EAT!" side of things.

    But to suggest that you're not keeping the word of wisdom because you're not svelte is not only untrue, it's cruel. I know plenty of women who are rail thin and consume nothing but what I consider to be addictive garbage according to the Word of Wisdom.

    I wish we never talked about weight or bemoaned our bodies. Because we're all too judgmental, and we'll never really understand because we'll never live someone else's life.

  30. Most of my family is overweight. I was always bothered by how vocally critical my mother was (still is) about those who are heavy, especially since my only sister, my dad, and nearly all of my brothers fall under that category. I tend to be sensitive to negative comments about weight because I know how hurtful and inaccurate they are. Imagine my surprise when one of my close friends admitted to thinking that skinny people are pretty, whether they have true beauty or not. She has some serious food issues that she grew up with (instilled by her mother), so I can't blame her. But I was surprised by it nonetheless because she has a doctorate degree in psychology.

  31. This is such a tricky and layered subject. I have a whole cornucopia of thoughts/ideas swimming around in my head but will spare you the rambling and share the two which stand out the most. My mother has always struggled with her weight- since she was in grade school. My dad is the exact opposite- tall and thin. We used to joke about my parents being Jack Sprat and his wife (you know the old Mother Goose rhyme.) Literally, my parents could sit down and eat the exact same meals- same proportions of everything and Mom would gain a pound or two while Dad never showed any signs of extra meat on his bones. While I knew this was a frustration for my mom I never once heard her (or Dad) refer to herself as "fat" or "ugly" She carried herself with confidence and poise throughout her life. And, I can honestly tell you it never occurred to me that there was anything wrong with her at all until she went on a strict diet regiment in the early 90's. She joined one of those diet clubs where the meals are planned, support groups are regularly attended and progress is charted very closely. The most amazing thing was that for the entire 24 months she was on that diet she still cooked regular delicious meals for the rest of us and always BEFORE she prepared her own tofu concoction of some sort or another. What discipline and self control it must have taken for her to do all that completely on her own. She ended up losing 166 lbs. by the time she was finished. She was also ambushed by a "surprise" pregnancy a few months later at the age of 42- never to return to her post-diet weight. Looking back on it now I feel somewhat bitter that it was always so hard for her. It seems so unfair that she should have to follow a military style program just to shed some pounds and for what? Was she happy when she weighed more than the "average" American? Yes. Did she feel good? Yes. Was she successful in performing her duties as a wife and a mother and a well respected journalist? Absolutely! Was she beautiful? She was stunning. When I look back now at pictures of her life my heart swells to remember her as that amazing, beautiful, outgoing, healthy, even athletic woman of faith and strength. And, it is only when I see those few pictures of her "post-diet" that I feel puzzled and almost question who that strange looking woman is.

    My second experience involves my very young husband. He is a brilliant man who graduated from High School with enough AP credits to instantly propel him to his junior year at the University of Utah as a law school candidate. Upon applying for law school he was accepted on full tuition scholarship to Temple University Law School in Philadelphia, PA. We moved there together with our 15 month old son and absolutely no worldly experience outside of small-town Utah. Needless to say we were terrified and alone. Just after moving we found out we were expecting our 2nd baby due sometime in the spring- just in time for his first year finals. And, then he got sick- very sick. We spent that year going between OB appointments for me and scores of specialists and hospital tests for him. All while he struggled to keep up at school. By the time our baby arrived my 6 ft. tall, normally husky husband weighed in at a startling 165 lbs (10 lbs, LIGHTER than I was by the end of the pregnancy.) He was skeletal, his eyes had dark circles around them, he shivered violently in our bed every night and spent hours of every day in the bathroom wishing for death. We were thousands of miles from home, with a new baby and I thought I was going to lose him. He was finally diagnosed with Crohn's disease. We were scheduled for more tests so that treatment could be decided. The day before our scheduled appointment (the baby was 3 weeks old) he collapsed in our apartment. I left my two babies with my sisters who had come to help and he was rushed to the hospital. It was all such a landslide but the short story is he was taken into emergency surgery, we were told his white blood cell count was so high he was lucky to be alive, his body had all but shut down and he was suffering from massive internal infection. But, he lived. So, yada, yada, yada…he has had several surgeries since then but his disease has been under control for many years. He is once again a BIG man- and all I can think when I look at him is- beautiful. Were he to start losing weight again I would panic. To me he will always be my handsome prince whether he is 165 lbs. or 300 lbs.

    In my perfect world there is only beauty, vitality, unconditional acceptance and absolutely no scales!

  32. Body: Actually, I was just thinking about that yesterday… about how I believe that Heavenly Father blessed me with my appearance to help me gain the qualities that I needed to possess to fulfill part of my mission here on earth and to bless others. I have pretty consistently struggled with feeling comfortable in my own skin, but lately I have come to really appreciate what has been given me. I really do feel blessed to be who I am and to look like I do.

    Stereotypes: I try not to judge, but I do. My judgements change, based on the weather and my mood. But I judge people more if I think that they judge others based on their appearance. So, it's more like the second wrong that doesn't make a right.

    Relationships: I think that our obligation to our spouse is to do the best that we can in every area of progression and to be forgiving and loving in good times and in bad times. So, basically, I think that we should try to stay physically healthy, but at the same time, if our we or our spouse are struggling in this area, we should be patient and loving with ourselves and/or with them.

    Vanity: I am absolutely more preoccupied with my looks when I am not in shape. I think. It's been a while since I've really felt like I'm in shape. But I know I am happier when I am living healthier and doing better.

    Good post.

  33. What a wonderful post! I love your Oprah example. You don't get that successful by sitting around and being lazy. Yet with all her money, influence, and power she still struggle with weight.

    I'll just comment on the skinny-for-your-spouse question. I think we do have an obligation to do what we can to keep ourselves healthy, because when you are feelish sluggish and sick it affects the both of you (especially when you have little kids!). However, there is a big difference between being healthy and being skinny. What one person looks like leading a healthy lifestyle is going to be different than what another person looks like. Right now my husband is feeling pretty down on himself because he is overweight (stupid comments from his mother about how "easy" it should be for him to lose weight do not help) and I really wish he would believe me more when I tell him that I love him no matter what he looks like.

  34. It's so true that being skinny does not necessarily equal being healthy. I started running a couple of years ago (thanks to Segullah!). I also do yoga and pilates and hike and bike, and am probably in the best condition of my adult life. I also weigh about ten pounds more than I did two years ago. The truth is that my body requires more fuel these days than it did when I was more sedentary. In order to have the energy I need to exercise and meet all the other demands of my very busy life, I have to eat more. I'm sure if I cut back on my caloric intake, I could lose those extra pounds, but I'd be HUNGRY! And miserable. And life's just too short for that. 🙂

  35. This comment is totally candid and may reveal personal biases or judgments and I'm sorry if I say anything insensitively. On relationships: This summer I became friends with a dangerously overweight woman. The first time I met her husband I was surprised because I hadn't expected him to be so fit and handsome. Over the next few weeks as I saw the two of them together I actually became really jealous of their relationship. He was so attentive to her, so loving, so IN-LOVE with her (they've been married 10 years); they shared knowing looks, he listened to her with a sincere interest; laughed at her clever comments. It made me analyze how much physical attraction figures into my own marriage. Does my husband love *me* and not the me as seen through my physical body (which is, by the way, currently slightly overweight)? We've also been married 10 years and I've always considered our relationship healthy and loving, but honestly, I don't know if he loves me entirely for who I am on the inside.

  36. ~j. i'm pretty sure she is being serious. i have friends in the medical profession who tell me that all the time.

    and that seems to be just another aspect of having a life experience that is never hidden from the judging eyes of those around you.

    it's not so much fun, is it?

    and to the rest of you–i'm sorry i can't reply to all of the comments specifically, but i'm going to go cook a healthy dinner for my family. no fast food. no bon bons. no soda. for reals.

    thank you for not being afraid to tell your stories, explore the questions and share your perspectives.

  37. I agree with Matilda. Being overweight is one thing, I know because I am. Being obese is never a healthy situation! If you can find a dr. that says you can be obese and healthy I'll be amazed and would like their name so I can switch over to them 🙂

  38. i'm not agreeing or disagreeing with anyone over health issues.

    if you'll reread the post i think you'll see the post is not at all about health issues. it's about what kind of assumptions we make about one another. by what standards we value people (or fail to value them). and about how we treat one another.

  39. I have enjoyed reading these comments. This is a very hard subject that effects most people in different ways. I would like to comment as a husband and a father about some of the feelings I have about this.

    I have a wonderful wife. I have loved her since a few short months after we met. I knew I could love her and live happily with her forever (though it took several years to convince her of that, or maybe to convince me that I was worthy of marrying her). She has worked hard to be a good mother to our children. She is a good, kind person who would do anything for anyone.

    She has a weight problem.

    It affects everything she does, in my opinion. She has no energy to do housework or the things she enjoys. She is beginning to have more and more health issues. She has no self esteem. She complains and finds things wrong with everything. She blames others for things she can’t do or fix. She can’t focus on the important things in life and wastes hours of time on things that really have no meaningful purpose. She claims to not be prejudice towards people who are thin or healthy, but she is. She claims to be proud of her image yet she will avoid being in a picture at all costs (we’re talking 15 years of not having a family portrait of any kind taken). She is getting farther and farther out of shape and tries to rationalize and make excuses as to why she can’t do certain things. She wants doctors to fix her ailments without discussing the issue of some of them being caused by being overweight, when they are caused by being overweight. Her relationship with her children is not what it could be (not because of her weight but because of her feelings about herself). She paints a picture of a happy, successful, positive and wonderful life to many around her, but in reality she is living in complete denial. She is miserable!

    It is very difficult for a husband to watch. The husband is the last person on this earth who could tell his wife that her 70 to 100 extra pounds are ruining her life. The sad part is that a husband and a wife should have the type of trusting relationship where they could openly discuss these types of matters, knowing that the best interest of each other was at hand, and then help each other to overcome these issues. But it doesn’t work that way.

    Now I’m not blaming my wife’s weight for being the sole cause of all her challenges and trials. I know I am surely the cause of many of them, but I know that it is among the root of many of her concerns and dislikes about herself. You can talk all you want about loving people unconditionally but when the issue really taking a toll on your life, then I think it’s time to take a serious look at it. Does a person with unconditional love turn their head to this issue?

    I would like some advice here on how to help a wife who is in this boat. This is not about appearance or keeping yourself attractive for your spouse. It’s about mental, physical, spiritual and emotional health for all those involved. What exactly does a husband say and do. Dalene, you said that you are trying to shed a few pounds but if someone were to treat you differently when the weight was gone you would feel a little “sting”. In my situation I feel like that makes it even more difficult. I already feel like I have to walk on egg shells around my wife in all that I say or do. Never dare I mention anything to do with weight! If I say anything one way or the other I am on the losing end. How does one praise and approve when it’s only going to cause a sting. Please give me some counsel here.

    I’ve rambled on enough here. Time to move on. Just wondering how to handle these issues on my own personal basis. Thanks to all you women who add thoughts and comments here. You’d be surprised at who really reads them and tries to improve their lives because of them.

  40. I think the observation that obesity is not healthy is used as a justification for judging people. It's as if we sometimes are trying to say, "Oh, I wouldn't judge someone based on their looks! It's not because they are unattractive, it's that they are unhealthy." People who have health problems, including obesity, are just as worthy of love, respect, and friendship as anyone else. We all need to work on recognizing that, including me. Someone commented that the morbidly obese obviously need help, just like an anorexic or an alcoholic. This may be true, but leave it to their doctor/therapist/other professional. I think weight is so sensitive for most people, that even if you are truly trying to help, your effort will only end up being an additional burden.

  41. I think bob's situation is exceedingly common, and i'm glad he had the courage to bring it up.

    E, if i had waited for a doctor or therapist or "other professional" to bring up my struggles, i would probably not be here today. it is our loved ones who care about us, the ones we aren't paying to listen and advise, who are generally the first step in the recognition and healing process. bob's question is a good one. my only response is that the environment and the relationship need to be safe, secure, non-threatening for her to be able to get vulnerable enough to talk about it honestly. she needs to know that she is not alone…that you're there for her, and that you will walk the green mile with her so to speak. it takes a tremendous amount of energy and resources for people to keep these kinds of struggles bottled up inside. when she's "safe", she'll be able to slowly start turning that proverbial lid and release some of the pressure. it'll take baby steps. she probably won't believe you and will definitely "test" you. you should probably be working with a counselor even if she isn't, as you work on this. i'm not a therapist, but i know there is a lot of pain bottled up inside her based on your description. it's about far more than weight. it's about missed life opportunities, about fear of abandonment, about social exclusion, and a host of other things. she's lucky to have you though! so very very lucky. and with you by her side she can find hope about healing.

  42. Bob–I'm responding to you as an "overweight" wife, so I don't know if that influences your take on my response. She probably realizes all of those things you said…is she going to admit them or talk about them?…No. I've been there. I may not admit or talk about my faults (like, having no energy to clean, etc…), but I'm aware of everything. If she knew how you felt, it would break her heart. In fact, you probably have said things to her or have made comments (even unaware) that influence how she thinks that YOU see her. What I need from my husband (and take this for what you will) is for him to be supportive and loving. I need to know that he loves me, no matter what. When I want to make changes I need his support 100%. It's happened to me so many times that when I want to make a change in eating habits or exercise, guess who shows up with a candy bar, or guess who won't go walking with me because he wants to watch t.v. Do you enable, do you sabotage? I don't know, but before you can influence her to change, you must first change yourself. Are you doing all you can do? If so, then you can start to influence her behavior. You can help out a little bit more, you can encourage her in the things she enjoys (maybe participate), you can focus on important things and be an example of optimism, you can ask her to go on a walk with you, you can take up tennis, whatever it is that you can do to change yourself. The best motivators of change aren't the ones who push it, they are the ones who live it.

    I've heard all the arguments before that "how can I sit by and watch someone destroy their life." Well, ultimately it is their life, their decisions. Yes, they greatly affect you, they take a toll on you, but the fact remains that you can't change her. You can, however, create such a positive and uplifting atmosphere that she will be encouraged to change. You don't have to "praise and approve" her changes, just live your life with love, optimism, and joy. Let her know you love her everyday whether she's had a success or a failure…

    It's really hard to explain how it feels to be an "overweight" wife…it gets even harder if she suffers from serious clinical depression or other mental health issues.

  43. "If you don't walk as most people do, Some people walk away from you, But I won't! I won't! If you don't talk as most people do, Some people talk and laugh at you, But I won't! I won't! I'll walk with you. I'll talk with you. That's how I'll show my love for you. Jesus walked away from none. He gave His love to everyone. So I will! I will! Jesus blessed all he could see, Then turned and said, "Come follow me." And I will! I will! I'll walk with you. I'll talk with you. That's how I'll show my love for you."

    -Children's Song Book, pages 140 and 141

    Almost everything we need to learn about how to treat each other can be found in the Children's song book or the Hymn book. Enough of judging each other.

  44. Bob, I think it's brave and sensitive of you to share your situation here in this forum. I am an obese wife and I was obese when my husband met and married me. I'm sure you've read many comments about how food and weight issues are so very emotionally motivated. I would hope two things for you and your wife…One-Reassure her that your love has not changed, and is unconditional. Two- Reinforce the positive things you see in her actions and ablities. Compliments go a long way if they are sincere.

    Also I totally agree with Blue in being sure that you are providing a safe secure invironment. Even if you've always been approachable when she needed to talk in the past the weight is a different thing all together. Perhaps it's her happiness you're most concerned with and you could share that with her in a way that she could try to figure out why she's so unhappy. Maybe she was unhappy before she gained the weight, most likely there are underlying things going on that the weight is a symptom not the cause of all the problems. But I must stop, I'm not a therapist either, but I would highly reccommend one for yourself and if she's willing for you both. NOT becuase she's overweight, but because she's not happy!

  45. I believe that people are born with different body shapes and sizes, that gain weight in different ways and in different places, with different metabolisms, etc. I do not believe that anyone could be a size 00 if they just excersized more or "put down the chocolate". I do believe that a size 14 can be a healthy, normal size for an adult woman.

    However, I do not believe that obesity is part of that. (I am not talking about being out of shape or being "chubby"- I am talking clinically obese.) And as crappy as it is to admit, most of the people I know who are very overweight are that way because they eat out a lot, drink a lot of soda, and don't move enough. They may have slower metabolisms than the size 00 supermodel girl who lives the exact same way, but thats life. If they want to be in shape, they will have to be more strict.

    I also don't believe that its impossible to lose the weight and to keep it off. Just watch an episode of Biggest Loser. Its hard as heck, but its possible to lose the weight and to become fit. Not supermodel, or even thin- but fit. Unfortunately, once you get to that point, its going to take a massive overhaul to turn it around, and most people can't easily carve out the time/money/energy required. Oprah gains the weight back because she doesn't maintain her lifestyle of eating right and excersizing.

    As to judging…some of the most important people in my life are overweight. I would never think them unworthy or less faithful or stupid or lazy. I think they need to devote a little more time to excersizing, but thats beside the point. It doesn't affect my relationship with them.

    To Bob- my husband and I made a pact when we got married that if either one of us gained too much weight, that we would say something. Its much better to say something while the weight is still easily manageable- because it'll probably only get worse. Yes, its going to hurt because it will be embarrassing no matter how careful you come across, but that may be the catalyst she needs to do something about it. I don't agree that it requires a song and dance- be straight-forward, but loving and supportive. I think you need to tell her that her weight is affecting the family and her relationships, not to mention her health.

    Also, it would be a good time for reflection on your choices- do you help grocery shop, cook meals? What foods to you buy or prepare? Do you excersize regularly? Do you make it a priority in your schedule that your wife has time to herself at LEAST an hour every other day to excersize? If that means watching the kids, helping with homework, cleaning the house sometimes…then you're going to have to step it up. She may be exhausted, overworked, and has no time to herself to better herself. She needs to feel rested and relaxed to feel up to excersizing. I know right now as a mom to 4, with a breastfeeding newborn I have NO energy whatsoever. I have actually gained weight since losing the baby weight. For now, thats life…but when I'm done breastfeeding and the baby is sleeping through the night, I'll be more rested and able to tackle the weight.

  46. I have friends who are skinny and beautiful and people hate them for it. It is a different kind of judgment. "Oh, it must be so nice to be so skinny. I bet they have no problems at all" But they do have real problems too. We pass judgment on so many things before we ever get to know people. I have made that mistake more than once, and am trying to learn from it. We all need to stop and get to know people's souls – who they REALLY are, no matter what body they come in. I once heard a blind boy say he was grateful for his blindness because he got to see people better than anyone else. We could all learn a lesson from him.

  47. I've been trying to decide what kind of comment I want to leave, but after reading Bob's, I think I finally know.

    Bob–your wife might really be suffering from depression. It took me a long time to realize I have been. I have spent my whole life doing the same things you described your wife doing. I'm not saying that medication is the only answer here, but it could really help. I recently got on some antidepressants and they are really helping. My husband could have written that same comment you wrote.

    As an obese wife and mother, it is hard to do day-to-day things. I had to come to terms with my past and all the emotional issues that I have been letting rule my life. I blamed them and my relationship with my mother for my eating. Really–it is me that is to blame!!! I am an intelligent human being and yet, I couldn't see what was right in front of me.

    A lot of obese people are trying to soothe themselves with something that will never satiate the hurts. It's a cycle that just keeps on repeating over and over again.

    Say something to her as the man that loves her. I thought my husband's silence was an approval, or at the very least indifference, of the way I looked and felt. I felt like he didn't care! How wrong I was. He loves me and wants me to be the best I can be. He is finally now supporting me more and being more willing to talk to me about my issues. It has been a huge weight off my shoulders–literally and figuratively. I joined a gym, I'm getting more sleep, I'm just feeling better in general.

    No, not all overweight women (or men) are fat because they overeat, but a lot are. My sister complains about her weight, but she's constantly drinking alcohol and coffee loaded with cream. She eats out all the time.

    What really needs to happen is some kind of campaign to promote health–even more than is already out there. Prevention of obesity is the only way to go. Losing weight and healthy lifestyles will help, but we have to start at the root of the problem.

    Society is prejudiced against fat people. And fat people are prejudiced against thing people. It's true for the most part.

    I'm glad I've been overweight and have been able to figure out my problems so that I can finally let go and move on. I will probably never be thin, but I sure enjoy working out at the gym and my new found understanding of how I got so big in the first place.

    Great post, Dalene. We should talk more about this. I love this topic.

  48. Whoa, when you said that you were going to write about being "horizontally challenged" over here at Segullah, I was TOTALLY thinking something different.

    I'm a little disappointed.

  49. thank you for continuing this conversation Dalene. I was struck by Bob's words– "Thanks to all you women who add thoughts and comments here. You’d be surprised at who really reads them and tries to improve their lives because of them."

    Let's keep talking. Many thanks to everyone at Segullah.

  50. Some people have faster at-rest metabolisms. They can eat more and not gain weight. Other people have slower metabolisms and have to eat less. But still, you cannot gain weight from nothing. Overweight comes from eating too much for your metabolism and activity level, and it is as simple as that. The laws of conservation of energy are such that you cannot gain weight from nothing.
    There are some medical conditions and medications that make a person feel hungry, even when they have eaten enough. This sucks! I've been on and off steroids for a medical condition myself for several years, so I know the special challenge that can pose.
    I think that more people who are obese are so because of emotional problems. Genetics surely plays a role in metabolism, but families can pass down unhealthy attitudes about food as well. Losing weight and keeping it off is really difficult without also addressing the emotional reasons that led a person to be a certain weight. I have a lot of sympathy for these struggles, having dealt with depression since I was a teenager.
    Over the past 5 years I have lost 70 pounds, through diet and exercise.
    The first thing I had to do was get honest with myself. I was eating too much.
    I had to be accountable to myself. I could not blame my genetics or my kids or my busy lifestyle anymore. I had to accept responsibility for my body and for the weight I had put on.
    To me, there are many gospel applications here. We are put on earth to learn self-control, when all is said and done. We have to control our passions, our tempers, our instincts, in short, the natural man. We are given the incredible gift of a physical body, and we are responsible for being good stewards. I think our bodies are intrinsically intertwined with our mission here on earth.
    Now, as a "thin" person, I have had people frequently say things like, "I bet you've never had to worry about weight!" As if a thin person is thin only because it is easy for her. I feel like telling people that I lost 70 pounds, and it takes a daily effort of being honest with myself and exercising self-discipline to maintain it. So yes, there are biases and stereotypes on both sides. Both are unfair, but there you have it. There are biases against all sorts of things, not just weight. We all have to deal with it. Bias should not prevent us from making good choices.
    And yes, I think we do have an obligation to our spouses to maintain ourselves the best we can. Naturally, our bodies will change as we age and have children. But just as we have to curb our tongues with our spouses, even when we feel crabby, we may have to curb our appetites even when we feel hungry! It's a matter of love and respect to our spouses.
    I am way happier as a thinner person, even if I am still a little preoccupied with my weight and what I eat. I am way less preoccupied with these things than when I was fat.

  51. Lots of people keep commenting, "but they are fat because they eat so much." That's kind of missing the whole point. The point is that it's not our job to judge another person's worth based on something that is probably much, much more complex and difficult than we realize. Maybe it isn't. Maybe that person is a lazy bum who is ruining their own life by making stupid choices for no good reason. Or, maybe they have an incredible personal story that would make you look like the lazy bum. The fact is, you don't know, and you have no way of knowing. The Savior asked us to love everyone, and we have a responsibility as followers of the Savior to take care of one another. Not just those who happen to be pretty and pleasant and popular, but ALL of his children. When we take it upon ourselves to judge another person's worthiness we are hurting them and ourselves, and we certainly are not acting like the followers of Christ. We can judge an act to be right or wrong, but we cannot judge a person because we are so limited in our knowledge of what has happened in that person's life. Only the Savior can do that, and I think we're all glad we have someone perfect and loving to judge us instead of our next door neighbor.

  52. On your body: I absolutely believe the physical appearance and characteristics of my body are tied to my mission on earth. I didn't meet the biological paternal side of my family (father included) until I was in my 20's – I didn't even know they existed. To walk into my Nanna's house and see myself, older, looking back explained so many things to me. Never before had I ever felt that I physically belonged, and that it explained so much of my history, and granted a possible path forward to liking my own body. As it was I found that side of my family, I made first contact, I keep in touch, and I know that it was part of my 'mission' to accomplish.

    On biases and stereotypes: I don't have bias about size. I live with stereotypes placed on me enought to be able to disbelieve any of the hype about anyone else.

    On relationships: Do you feel a person has an obligation to remain fit for and attractive to his or her spouse? Um, bit of a touchy one for me. My ex left me for someone younger, thinner and more acceptably pretty (on the outside) than me. It was pretty difficult to not take that personally, but I knew it was about them, and not about me. But it still bites at times. Of course now I'm fit, strong and amazing, so I don't care what he thinks =)

    On vanity: I like myself more when I feel like I am physically healthy and capable, whatever my size. Though that was a hard lesson to learn, again mostly taught on meeting my other family for the first couple of times.

    I now see my body as a gift, both fragile and remarkably durable. I try to look after it, though sometimes the bushbashing and mud throwing of life causes the odd unavoidable scratch, break or bruise. Mostly I'm trying to be gentle with myself, in thought and deed.

    This post has been EXCELLENT!!!!!!

  53. Selwyn, I love the last paragraph of your comment. In the end that is most important- how we see ourselves. If we don't love and care for ourselves we won't feel it or see it when others reach out to us. We misinterpret their actions or misunderstand. We see their loving hand in friendship as a hand to smack us when we are down.

    We must have that love for ourselves to understand how the Savior could love us enough to redeem us. We must love ourselves to be given the pure love of Christ which enables us to serve others. We need to love ourselves enough to fight everyday for our health, fat or thin.


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