She likes me fat, I like me fit.
July 26, 2011 2:41 PM   Subscribe

How to cope with having an ideal body weight that is different from my SO's ideal of my body weight?

Basically, I have been overweight for most of adult life. Not by a lot, I hover around the top-end-of-normal/bottom-end-of-overweight on the BMI scale. But I have this idea of what I want to look like and it involves weighing about twenty pounds less than I generally do (I'm a 6'2" dude, incidentally, so 20lbs isn't as much as it might sound).

In the last couple of years, I had managed to bring myself down to within about 5 pounds of my goal. Great news! Except that it's come out that my wife liked me better chubby. I mean, it was clear that she was attracted to me at my previous weight, but I had just assumed that she would find me even hotter if I lost a few pounds.

Now, in the last couple of months, I've started to backslide, putting a few pounds on. On the one hand, I feel bad about it, but on the other my wife is complimenting me on how I fill out shirts better, etc. I feel conflicted about wanting to lose weight again for me, or not lose it for her.

Just to clear up a few points I anticipate in advance:

1. My wife is wonderful and supportive. She has not been critical of my weight loss or tried to sabotage it in any way, but she has been frank about finding the shape I was when we married sexier than the my new to-me-preferable shape.

2. My wife is in great shape herself and I'm 99% sure that this has nothing to do with body issues of her own.

3. As far as medical health is concerned, my doctor seems to believe that I was healthy at the heavier weight and healthy at the lighter weight. We're talking about a small amount of weight in the greater scheme of things.
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Try putting on some muscle instead of fat?
posted by trevyn at 2:46 PM on July 26, 2011 [7 favorites]

Your wife is entitled to her opinion, but it's probably time she kept it to herself. She's made her point. If necessary, point out to her that it is generally held (by reasonable people) to be gross and creepy to tell your spouse how to look. Especially repeatedly.

You be at the weight you want.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:48 PM on July 26, 2011 [10 favorites]

Is it the size or the chubbiness that she likes (you mention she's complimenting how well you fill out shirts)? If its just the size thing, would bulking up a little bit be a compromise you'd both be happy with?
Ultimately you should do what makes you happiest. I'm assuming your wife isn't completely repulsed and turned off by your trimmer figure.
posted by missmagenta at 2:49 PM on July 26, 2011

I think this kind of thing probably happens more than people realize.

If your wife's generally "wonderful and supportive," then why not do what makes you happiest? 20 pounds really isn't that much of a change, anyway.
posted by fugitivefromchaingang at 2:52 PM on July 26, 2011

So not really knowing what she's thinking here, maybe buy new shirts? Maybe she just likes shirts with a snugger fit and for most men with most shirts that just doesn't happen because most shirts are sized generously IMO. So maybe find some snugger-fitting shirts.
posted by GuyZero at 2:52 PM on July 26, 2011 [4 favorites]

My husband recently lost over 60 lbs, and it's undeniably great, but it's also weird. He's bony in places he used to be soft and cuddly. It's so different when I hug him and when I lie my head on his chest. His face is very different than the face I've seen for 10-15 years. And like your wife I've made some comments about not liking it. It's just hard to adjust to a change after all this time of him being at the heavier weight.

I'm expecting to get used to it in time. Soon, this man who is lean and muscled will be the man I'm used to. Hopefully, that will happen with your wife as well. Stick with your goals and be happy knowing that you've done an amazing job.
posted by saffry at 3:14 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

How does her weight compare to yours? If you've lost weight where she has not, there might be some hard feelings there.
posted by filthy light thief at 3:17 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

Is it possible that she's more comfortable with you at a heavier weight because it makes it less likely that other women will be attracted to you, or that you'll cheat? (As you said, 20lbs on 6'2" guy isn't going to create a huge difference, but still.)

Otherwise, i think you just need to tell her that you are healthier, your heart is stronger, and you are happier when you are slimmer, and that you hope she accept that.
posted by Kololo at 3:23 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Any chance she's complimenting you because she knows you feel a little bad about backsliding and she wants you to know she still thinks you're hot? Either way, she probably finds you attractive either way - 20 lbs on that frame is not much of a swing. You should do what makes you feel good, and if you feel weird about it just tell your wife that you feel better on the smaller side and you're going to keep working towards it.

It's great that she feels fine about expressing to you what she likes and how she feels - take the positive part of that instead of stressing about how that relates to your actual weight.
posted by mrs. taters at 3:24 PM on July 26, 2011

This is slam-dunk easy to solve. Put those twenty pounds back on again--not as fat, but as solid muscle. This will take several years to accomplish (unless you're into expensive liquids in syringes), but you'll achieve a far better frame overall and enhance your health in the process. Filling out shirts will be a piece of cake if you concentrate on muscles that fulfill this goal--namely, traps, delts, and pecs. The flip side is that your shirts will fit even better in the abdominal region when it's flat and lean.
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:40 PM on July 26, 2011 [3 favorites]

"I preferred the way you looked before" can mean either "I am less attracted to you now and this is a problem" or "I'm not used to the new look, and if it were my choice I'd switch you back, but eh I'll get over it." It's not completely clear from the question which one of these is closer to your wife's feelings. I wonder how it came up: if she brought it up on her own, or if you were flexing in front of her and saying "so, what do you think?" And maybe she says it just to state a preference, like preferring curly fries to tater tots, without realizing how personal and loaded the preference really is.

On the other hand, losing fifteen pounds in a couple of years, especially on a tall frame, is a subtle and gradual change, and it's odd that she'd be thrown by that. Not to get all armchair psychologist, but maybe there's something else she misses and can't put her finger on, so she pins it on the one change she has noticed? Maybe it's not your belly she misses, maybe it's the movie-and-pizza nights you guys used to have, or the types of jokes you used to tell, or how you made her feel safe whenever she got sad, or who knows. Even with a continuously awesome relationship it's possible to get nostalgic for a previous season.

It's your body, treat it as you wish. That's first and foremost. After that: does your wife know that the disconnect between her preference and yours makes you feel uncomfortable and ambivalent? Is there something that would rekindle her attraction to you while still allowing you to reach your goal weight?
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:33 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]'re going by the BMI scale? Not to say that you shouldn't lose weight; you are obviously entitled to and that's your right. But the BMI does not take into account body type, so some people going by BMI to figure out what they "should" weigh might wind up weighing less than looks right on their body type.

For example, my dad- he diets down until he gets to his "ideal" BMI type, and to me, he looks unnaturally skinny. If you are already in "top range of normal", might it be that you are not overweight at all for your body type, so your wife thinks you look a little too thin? Different types of people look good with different amounts of weight/muscle on them.
posted by bearette at 5:59 PM on July 26, 2011

There are so many reasons why she might be expressing this: she might find you less attractive, sure. Or she might be afraid of losing you if you look better. Or she might be jealous that you have lost weight. Or she might not want you to spend more money on clothes. Or or or.

Just tell her that you feel really proud of yourself, and that while you respect her opinion, she needs to know that it makes you feel bad. Remind her that you would still love her if she put on/lost weight, and that if it made her feel good you'd be happy for her. So, knowing all that, is this really a big deal, and if so, why? Then go from there.
posted by davejay at 6:05 PM on July 26, 2011

Is it possible she's just trying to let you know that she likes you at any size, and is overshooting the mark a bit? That's my first thought.
posted by threeants at 6:15 PM on July 26, 2011 [2 favorites]

I just have to toss this one out there: Marriages Are More Satisfying When Wives Are Thinner Than Their Husbands. Meltzer, McNulty, Novak, Butler & Karney (2011)

(for the record, Mrs. Straw has a higher BMI than I do...)
posted by straw at 8:39 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

May I say that I see a plate of beans here?

It is not required that everyone be worrying about their weight all the time, just because everybody else is doing it. You seem to be within a weight range that is just fine--there's no real need for your weight to go either up or down, but if it does, by a bit, you're still just fine. What you have here is a NON-PROBLEM. Count yourself lucky, and stop worrying.
posted by Corvid at 8:41 PM on July 26, 2011

I'm willing to bet its more the change than the fact you actually lost weight. Your clothes look different. Your face looks different. You feel different to hug etc. My husbands size yo-yos a bit and I find that it can take me a month or so before the "new" Mr wwax sort of imprints on my brain and feels familiar. Then he goes and swings the other way and it all starts all over again, but that's another problem. Anyway if you want to loose the weight I think you should loose the weight and then give her some time to get used to it and buy some clothes that fit properly. I know I think my other half looks sexier when his clothes fit right no matter what size he is.
posted by wwax at 9:10 PM on July 26, 2011

This is slam-dunk easy to solve. Put those twenty pounds back on again--not as fat, but as solid muscle.

No no no. This bothers me -- it's YOUR body. You should not be doing anything to it to please ANYONE else. It sounds like the conflict is more within you than coming from your wife -- don't gain weight back for your wife. That way lies ruin.
posted by sweetkid at 9:13 PM on July 26, 2011 [1 favorite]

Definitely do what makes you happy. Your wife's 'type' might be bigger guys -- and that might have drawn her to you at the beginning of your relationship -- but by no means does that mean she can't love you and find you sexy at this size as well. As Metroid Baby suggested, she might prefer curly fries and now you're tater tots. Unless she's crazy, she still likes tater tots a lot, even if they wouldn't be the first thing she'd pop in her oven (heh).

I would suggest having a talk with her. Ask her just how much she preferred you chubbier and if this is a major problem or just a slight preference. Consider asking her to stop making those remarks (which to her may seem casual) because they are causing you to doubt your choices, which you were previously very happy with.
posted by imalaowai at 1:01 AM on July 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

Are you irritating her in some way when you're trying to lose weight? Are you weird about food? I personally would rather be with a chubby husband who is not driving me up a wall about his dieting than one who is really into talking constantly about all aspects of his diet.

However, when it's all said and done it's your body, so you do with it what YOU want.
posted by crankylex at 5:49 AM on July 27, 2011

Your wife is, of course, entitled to her preference. And you're entitled to a body in which you feel comfortable and happy. Her preference doesn't trump your comfort and happiness.

For me, this question hangs on how she's communicating that preference to you. If she's bringing it up all the time, or if her compliments on your heavier build are passive-aggressive wheedling instead of just "hey there, fella, look at you", well, she needs to stop.

But if she's mentioned it a couple of times and let it drop on her own, and your concern is with how she feels rather than how she's acting, then you have to let that go: She's a big girl. She'll cope.
posted by Zozo at 9:46 AM on July 27, 2011

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