From the time I quit smoking on Super Bowl Sunday of my 40th year until I broke up with my ex 20-some years later, my five-foot frame lugged around an extra 25 pounds. The Body Mass Index pegged me squarely as obese. Looking back at old photos, I was pretty chunky.
While it never messed with my health or success or happiness, I was always insecure about my weight – jumping from Weight Watchers to Atkins to South Beach. I cooked healthy and bought fat-free salad dressings. Dessert was berries and low-cal frozen yogurt.
My divorce diet was primarily beer or wine and bar snacks. I hated being alone, much less cooking for one. I was reminded of my 20s, when happy hours after work lured us with 2-for-1 drinks and full buffets of snacks. I was slim then.
I drank diet Pepsi with my cigarettes and ate salads for lunch. Even in my teens, I felt fat. My mom (model-thin her whole life except during four pregnancies) let me join Weight Watchers with high school friends. We were all thin; we stopped at McDonald’s after every meeting.
I’ve held on to most of my weight loss over the last three years and don’t want to creep anymore. I did a little research about the divorce diet. One study showed most women drop five pounds the first month after a heartbreak. But some people gain weight during challenging times because grief and depression can dull our metabolism. I just quit cooking and eating, so it was easy. But how likely am I to keep it off?
It turns out, if you were happy with your weight before your breakup, you’ll likely return to that weight as life takes its upswing. But, if you’re like me – unhappily heavy before the breakup – we have a built-in motivation to do the work.
This Sixty and Me article by Margaret herself is full of great tips for weight management. There’s nothing magical about it. Move. Limit sugar and processed foods. Watch portion size. As to eating out, it’s one of my favorite luxuries. But all those calorie counts printed right on the menu squelch some of my joy.
Five pounds have reattached themselves since I started cooking for my boyfriend. He is a very good eater and weighs twice what I do, making me feel positively petite. The good news is he wants to lose weight, too.
The bad news is his favorite foods aren’t the healthiest choices, like well-marbled rib eyes and chips and white bread. For his birthday, I made him a huge lasagna. Yes, I’m part of the problem.
Poor guy. He’s met his match now that I’m on a mission. My memory holds an unabridged calorie tracker, thanks to my lifelong obsession with diets. I know all the swaps to make a recipe healthier. I’m not a resolutions girl, but we are going to eat healthier in ‘22, honey. I do not ever want to be that chunky girl pouring over Craig Claiborne’s Gourmet Diet.
I admit, I’ve been more fit than I am now. I started walking when I quit smoking, or I might have gained 50 pounds! My work as an innkeeper was good exercise most days. I’d remind myself “fit is better than thin” as I lifted my weights and did my push-ups and planks.
A medical scare took me down last year, and I’m not back 100 percent. Sure, it’s an excuse. I am thinner, and I’m happier with the way I look. But I am not as fit as I’d like. I am not fit enough to stay ahead of the natural deterioration of aging. Since I want to live to at least 100, I’d better get my ass in gear. The dog isn’t going to walk herself!
Honestly, I used my divorce as an excuse to not take care of myself for a long time. But here I am in a whole new life. I want to work on making my health span last my life span. Thanks, Margaret, for the great tips. We are starting right there! Happy New Year.
Are you happy with your weight? Have you been through the divorce diet? What did it look like for you?