Of Vice(s) And Men

November 19, 2008

There’s a new reality show on the Style network called Ruby, which chronicles the weight loss attempts of a 400-plus pound woman.  What I like about the show is that unlike many of the obesity-realted programs shown on TLC, it doesn’t only focus on the medical aspects of her journey. The viewer really gets to know Ruby the woman and what her personal world is like. Plus, unlike many other reality TV ladies, she’s not a screechy psycho whore and is actually, well, likeable. Sure she’s flawed, but overall she comes across as a kind-hearted person whom you want to root for.

That said, I felt for her when her ex — the man whom she almost married — came back into her life after a six-year absence. Yeah, yeah, I’m pretty certain that the show’s producers requested his return in order to add some drama to the series (it is a TV show after all), but I don’t doubt the veracity of their prior relationship history. Basically, she believed that this guy (who’s totally buff and really cute, by the way) was the love of her life. He, however, didn’t want to marry her until she lost the weight, and ended the relationship. Heartbroken, she put on even more pounds. This time around, he again told her that he’d be with her if only she’d lose the weight. Ruby then, in the nicest way possible, told him to get lost, explaining that she wanted to get healthy for herself — and in the meantime, find a man who’ll love her regardless of her appearance.

While my first instinct was to cheer, “Woo hoo, Ruby! Kick his skinny ass to the curb!” I can kind of understand where he’s coming from, too. Most of us — much as I hate to admit it, even me — do judge our significant others (or potential mates) at least somewhat on physical attractiveness. I think that when you truly love someone, though, you stick by him or her through thick or thin — figuratively or literally.

In my case, I’m very lucky that my husband, Jon, is one of these guys. We’ve been wed for 8 1/2 years now and I’ve been overweight for most of that time. Hell, I was even a fat bride. Still, I was thin when we first began dating, right after I completed graduate school. Though I’d ballooned up to 190 in college, I decided to get in shape while I was graduate school, mainly because it helped me deal with the stress of a tough journalism program. I worked out six days a week and got down to a nice, trim, muscular 140 lbs. This was probably the best shape I’ve ever been in — even more so than when I was stick thin, back in high school.

Therefore, I was lookin’ gooood  when we first started going out, and after a few months, our romance turned into a serious relationship. I then started work and began putting on the pounds… and before I knew it, I was obese. Still, Jon’s never said anything bad about me. He always tells me I’m beautiful and hates when I criticize myself. I guess there’s a silver lining in knowing that yes, if something happened to me where I didn’t look my best, my husband would stick by me. And yes, there is definitely some comfort in knowing that.

But while’s accepted my overweight status, he’s also gone above and beyond to help me lose weight. He’s never demanded that I do so, mind you, but he knows that it’s something I want to do and is anxious to be supportive. He even did that 20-mile charity walk last year. This time around, I want to show him that I appreciate his efforts because while he’s never said so, I know that my being obese can be frustrating for him. He loves to take long walks, for example, and with the way my weight is right now, that’s difficult for me. And traveling? Forget about it. We both love seeing the world and have been to many exciting places together, such as Iceland, Norway and Australia, but it just isn’t enjoyable visiting a place when you can barely move. The worst was when we went to England while I was at my highest weight of 326 pounds. Back then, I couldn’t walk a block without having to sit down and rest, and I was miserable the entire week we were there. We didn’t see very much of London and I knew just by looking in his face that he was disappointed.

We currently have a trip planned for Japan this spring. I’m determined to get in shape for this. I want to be able to run around Tokyo and perform karaoke without fearing that I’ll be mistaken for Shamu. I want to be able to hike around the temples in Kyoto and appreciate their beauty without gasping for air. I want to be able to enjoy my life — and for my husband to be able to really, truly enjoy seeing the world with me.