carol and tommy

chapter 1: the perfect storm

This is the true story of how twenty-three years of marriage transformed my wife and I from a pair of skinny newlyweds into two very large people indeed. You might even call it a cautionary tale.

Because it's true and not a fantasy, our story doesn't contain any magic or sorcery. We weren't kidnapped and force fed, and we didn't gain an extraordinary amount of weight in a week and a half. There's no bondage involved and we weren't secretly trying to fatten each other up. This is about real life where those things simply don't happen.

What did happen is that we ate too much and exercised too little. Now you can get away with that if you do it for a limited period of time. Many people take a vacation, for instance, put on a little weight and then take it off right after. But if you continue gaining steadily for over twenty years and never bother doing anything about it, you'll get fat. Real fat, and that's exactly what has happened to us.

Considering our present sizes, its hard to believe that we began married life slim and trim. We sometimes have difficulty believing it ourselves.

This morning, for the first time in several years, a rare visit to the doctor forced us both to get on a scale, something we instinctively avoid, and confront reality. The numbers were pretty stunning and we've been talking about them ever since. It seems that our current combined weight of 698 pounds is over 400 pounds more than it was the day we were married. In other words, we are now double our original sizes plus 118 pounds! You can understand why this has us shaking our heads in disbelief.

Unfortunately, we have no choice but to believe it. The scale doesn't lie, and the type of clothing has yet to be invented that can conceal my sixty inch waistline or the protruding shelf that is now my wife's backside.

How did it come to this? We are both 48, and when we got married twenty-three years ago we weighed a combined 290 pounds. We were both pretty much the same size we had been in high school. Neither of us even succumbed to the dreaded "Freshman Fifteen" during college. I'm five foot nine, and strolled down the aisle at 160 pounds with my flat stomach fitting comfortably into size 34 pants. At five foot six, Carol's slim, 130 pound figure easily slipped into a size 8 gown. That day it was impossible to foresee that we were destined to find marriage an extremely fattening proposition indeed, and that we would soon be saying goodbye to those sizes forever.

Hindsight being twenty-twenty, of course, it's easy to see that our marriage was a "perfect storm" of weight gain. A number of factors had fallen into place to guarantee that as soon as we said, "I do", the pounds would begin to pile on. Ironically, a couple of those factors occurred even before we got married, the first being our stupid and unnecessary diet.

It had been Carol who had the idea that if she could only drop six or seven pounds she would be able to fit into that perfect size 8 dress she had fallen in love with. She could have gotten the exact same dress in a size 10, a size she had been wearing forever. But there was something about marching down the aisle in a size 8 that greatly appealed to her, and so, six weeks before the wedding, she announced that she was starting a diet.

I certainly didn't have to lose any weight either. I was perfectly happy hovering between waist size 34 and 36, but in a gallant show of togetherness and support I volunteered to embark on the weight loss journey along with her. It was a huge mistake.

Neither of us had ever been on a diet in our lives and we found it pure torture. I felt like I was going to starve to death, and Carol spent six weeks being totally out of sorts.

I recall one evening about two weeks before the wedding when we had gone out for dinner. We'd been dieting for a month at this point and were in a perpetual state of hunger. We watched the servers cruise by our table carrying huge platters groaning with burgers, fries, shakes, and rich desserts all meant for those fortunate diners who hadn't been dumb enough to go on diets.

As we picked sullenly at our salads, Carol grabbed my arm tightly and said, "Tommy, this is the last diet I am ever going on in my life! This is it! If you even mention the word 'diet' I will pack up and leave, and if I am ever crazy enough to suggest that we do this again, remind me of this moment and talk me out of it!"

"Sweetheart," I replied, looking at the pinched face of my hungry fiance, "Why would we ever need to go on diets? We're just not the kind of people who put on weight!"

Another factor that increased our pre-marriage misery index was that we had also decided to quit smoking.

Carol and I had both been smoking regularly since high school and figured that enough was enough. Let's begin married life with a clean slate and cut out a habit that was not only harmful but also quite expensive. We didn't foresee that we'd soon be exchanging one habit for another. No sooner did we put down the cigarettes than we picked up the knife and fork.

The combination of these two factors caused us to begin married life with a serious case of entitlement regarding food. After denying ourselves for weeks and successfully reaching our weight loss goals (Unnecessary though they were.), we had a whole new attitude and now saw food in a much different way than we had previously. We deserved to eat not only whatever we wanted, but also as much as we wanted! Our favorite four words, which would soon become our mantra, were "Come on! Let's splurge!" After all, we were entitled!

We had plenty of opportunity to exercise that entitlement during our honeymoon. The day after our wedding we embarked on a three week cruise.

Cruise vacations were, as much as anything, a main factor in our weight gain journey. We love cruising and over the years took one every two or three years, returning each time four or five pounds heavier. This was our first one, however, and to say we took advantage of the unlimited food choices would be an understatement.

After six weeks of self denial, we were like kids in a candy store. We ate and lounged, then ate some more. With our newly cleansed pallets, food had never tasted so good! We were present for every meal, went back for thirds at every buffet, and snacked on burgers and shakes by the pool. Late night room service? Why not? We had starved for six weeks. We were entitled! "Come on, Honey! Let's splurge!"

The result of our three week eating binge were predictable: not only had we put back on every single pound we had managed to lose, but a couple more for good measure. Sizes 8 and 34 disappeared in a blur of all you can eat buffets, and we walked down the gangplank looking as though the diet had never happened.

Regaining the weight wasn't the only result of the cruise. We had spent three weeks overindulging had enjoyed it. We had discovered that splurging was fun and had no desire to stop. More importantly, we had discovered the joys of eating and had increased our food intake considerably.

There is no question that our lifetime love affair with food began during that cruise, and that obviously it was the crucial factor in our weight gain. We had enjoyed eating previously, I mean, who doesn't appreciate good food? But to us, it became a common interest. More and more of our activities during the early weeks and months of our marriage revolved around food, and it is during this period in a marriage that many lifetime patterns are set.

Once the early, blissful days of a marriage pass, every couple, either consciously or unconsciously, searches for common ground, something to do together, something both enjoy. For us, that common ground became food.

We loved eating out and made a game of searching for new and interesting restaurants. We began to take up cooking, spending many afternoons and evenings trying out different recipes. We liked weekend breakfasts in diners, treating ourselves to fast food, and surprising each other with candy, ice cream, and desserts. The splurging that had begun during our honeymoon quickly became a habit and most of the food we enjoyed was fattening. We had left calorie counting behind with our old sizes.

Though we didn't see it at the time, these were all danger signs. Our marriage had barely begun and already we had gotten ourselves into habits that were sure to impact the sizes of our waistlines. Yet there were still more clouds on the horizon of our approaching perfect storm: we moved to another state and took sedentary jobs.
7 chapters, created 4 years , updated 4 years
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SyabLovesChub 4 years
Love the weight gain story!