My Pilates class had just finished. Women were slowly trickling out of the studio except for one client who was taking her time lacing up her shoes. She was one of my newer clients, an executive turned stay-at-home mom in her mid-thirties. With no one left in sight, she came into the office with a gentle knock on the door.
“Can we talk?” the new client asked.
“Of course,” I replied. “What’s going on?”
She reached into her purse and pulled out a small photo of her wedding day.
“I wanted to show you this,” she said.
The picture showed my client dressed in a flawless Vera Wang gown—skin tight, perfectly fitted, size tiny. Her long, loose wavy hair was complemented by the ocean behind her, as well as the husband who gazed at her so adoringly.
“You look stunning,” I smiled.
“I was thin,” she quickly responded. “25 pounds thinner, to be exact. Marriage is no cake walk you know, but it does involve a lot of cake.”
It is commonly known that weight gain can be synonymous with marriage. Numerous studies have shown that women, in particular, gain weight after marriage, while men typically gain more weight after going through a divorce.
Once the “I do's” have been exchanged and the honeymoon is over, reality sets in and sometimes, so do the extra pounds. Some obvious variables include childbirth, overwhelming work and household demands that leave little room for “me time,” as well as the adverse effects of the extreme fitness and diet regimes of brides-to-be. But, in my experience training thousands of married women, I have found that the reasons for weight gain after marriage can be much more complex and are often connected to their emotional states.
Once married, many women become more settled and comfortable and no longer feel as pressured to attract the opposite sex as they did when they were single. This settled mentality can lead to less portion control and increased inactivity. For many happy couples who work hard and have busy schedules, indulging in food is often an important way to keep connected to each other. But on the other end of the spectrum, if the realities and battles of marriage don’t live up to the fantasy, food may become a refuge and extra pounds become armor.
Whatever the reasons may be, I am by no means saying that weight gain is a warning sign that a marriage is in trouble. In a healthy relationship, a few pounds here or there isn’t a big deal and a supportive spouse can help or encourage you to lose the weight if that is what you desire.
However, I can confidently say that weight gain can be connected to a woman’s lack of self confidence and deteriorating relationship with herself. And the Catch 22 is that the weight gain exacerbates the depression and anger and lack of confidence, and so, in this way, the weight gain itself can put stress on a marriage and can ultimately be extremely detrimental. “My biggest fear,” she continues, “is that I’m just going to keep getting bigger and even more depressed. I don’t know if my marriage will last if I stay this sad, and I don’t want my daughter to witness me like this.”
I look back down at the picture of a smiling woman who, only four years ago, seemed to have life by the horns only to look up at the same woman now, broken and insecure, sitting before me.
“I can help you get fit again and give you the tools, which in turn will help you love you again. The question is, do you have the commitment?” I asked.
Without a moment’s hesitation, she simply said, “I do.”
This is a tool I use for myself every day and I want to share it with you. Before I sit down for a meal, even if I’m comfortable in sweatpants, I imagine myself in my dream outfit—this little black Chanel dress—which I can’t actually afford and don’t have yet. Regardless, it is this vision of myself—beautiful, confident and radiant—that keeps my portions in control when I actually sit down to eat. I always want to feel the way I envision myself in that dress. Find your outfit or look that you desire and use this tool 5 minutes before you sit down to eat and see what happens.
Before you get out of bed in the morning, tell yourself something you love about yourself. Do you love your hair? Your laugh? As silly as this sounds, this starts your day off with positive thinking and, like a domino effect, encourages positive daily behavior.
I am not a huge fan of counting calories, although it is effective. For many people, this discipline only lasts a few weeks. I do however love portion control plates that give you a visual example of what size your portions should be. There are many options out there, just Google “portion control plates.” They help keep your calories in check and remove the guesswork from portion control.
Tell a child they can’t have the cookie and what is the thing they now want most? If you tell yourself you can never have something, you will always have your hand in that cookie jar. Allow yourself one day of indulgence every week. On this day, you can eat what you truly desire. But do me one favor, indulge with a friend or loved one. Share the meal with someone so that it becomes a memory and enjoyable experience. I will never forget the time my friend told me she met her soul mate over a large bite of chocolate cake…
Do exercise you enjoy at least 2-3 times a week for 30 minutes to an hour. Life can get rough sometimes and the last thing you need is to do some torturous, “I hate my life” workout that you cringe at the thought of. Do you like to walk? Do that. Do you enjoy Pilates? Great! Do it. Let your workout bring joy to your life, not another thing that you just have to do, like the laundry.
Kit Rich is Los Angeles-based fitness trainer with endless exercise and nutritional know-how. Hollywood's hottest stars are addicted to Kit's unique, multi-disciplined approach that combines cardio, yoga, Pilates, and weight training. Kit's clients are immediately taken by her funny and honest approach to health and fitness. She treats her clients as she treats herself, "with a hard challenge, sensibility, sensitively, and a good laugh." Follow Kit on Twitter @kitrichfitness