Can getting healthy actually help your marriage?
As you may know, this month I am going to be talking about overcoming mental addictions. And with unhealthy eating habits being so common, I think it is so important that we have real conversations about the impact of overeating. Today we have Kiesha Easley, author of Worth the Weight, giving a really encouraging story about how her marriage, sex, and life in general was transformed for the better when she and her husband decided to get serious about changing their relationship with food and lost weight together.
As we lay in bed, snuggled close one night, after a really great moment of intimacy, we both sighed deliciously and simultaneously breathed, “That was different!”
After 25 years of marriage, for the first time in a really long time, it felt as exhilarating as it felt when we were young! We were the same two people who had slept in the same bed together for the last two and a half decades, but something was different: we both had overcome an addiction to food and had lost over 75 pounds as a result.
Quietly, we savored the moment together. Then my husband smile and said, “I didn’t know you could do that anymore…”
Without going into details, I’ll just say that my response was, “I guess with less weight it’s so much easier to move and lift things, now…” LOL! It was incredible how much more flexible we were. We could snuggle more intimately. No one’s arm went numb under the weight! Without our stomachs protruding awkwardly in the way, it was physically easier for us to get emotionally closer, to embrace each other with greater intensity.
The next morning, as I prepared for work, I looked up to find my husband gazing at me in the most loving way. I was almost startled. “You look amazing, I can’t take my eyes off you! Sometimes, I can’t believe I’m looking at my wife,” he said tenderly. We had rejuvenated our connection and it made us feel like teenagers again.
Previously, sex felt like a chore – it literally felt exhausting and I very rarely had any desire.
I have to admit that I was very lethargic when it came down to it and my husband often complained about my lack of involvement. At the time, I didn’t realize my issue was health/weight related. Now that I know more about how the body works, I can recognize that my libido issues stemmed from a lack of proper nutrients. Plus, all of the extra weight literally weighed me down and made it difficult to move my body. After years of dealing with this issue, suddenly things were unexpectedly different!
In addition to a more intimate marriage, we suddenly had more energy to do things together.
We were always so tired, that we rarely went out to do anything fun. We were too busy passing out on the couch in the evenings after work to have any kind of fun together. But this year, for our 25th anniversary, we went on a trip – just the two of us. Each day was filled with so many exciting activities – we were like kids again. We spent time at the pool, rode the bikes, walked and explored for hours, shopped, watched movies and even had sex in the middle of the day!
Now, we spend more time together talking when we’d usually be asleep. We go on more dates because now we actually feel like it. We enjoy buying each other new clothes to dress up to attend weddings, banquets and other events, together. This just wasn’t possible before. I was always so unsure about what size to buy for him. Just when I thought he was wearing a 2X, he really needed something bigger. When he’d try to buy me pajamas (my favorite), they were always a little too snug because he didn’t want to embarrass me by grabbing the larger size.
God has truly redeemed the time for us and turned back the clock. We feel like we have been given a chance to relive our youth, something we thought we gave up when we got married so young.
Before this period of rejuvenation, we spent so many years believing that “feeling old” was just a part of the middle age experience and it was only going to get worse as the years passed.
Exhaustion, along with achy lower backs and painful joints were just a part of life to be accepted.
But after I turned 40, I got fed up with this feeling. I wanted to feel better in my 40s than I had in my 30s. I just couldn’t accept this perspective of decline. Mentally, I still felt so young, I wasn’t ready to just start preparing for “Shady Pines,” the fictional nursing home we joked about.
So, I started my health journey.
I had no expectations for improving our love life – I just wanted to feel better and overcome the chronic fatigue I continually dealt with.
In addition, I desperately wanted to prevent diabetes. Both of my parents have some form of diabetes and I felt that if I didn’t get my health together soon, I would inevitably join them. If I wanted to live a long, high quality life, I knew I was going to have to make some serious lifestyle changes.
I told my husband about the changes I was going to make for myself, but I assured him that I would continue making the same meals for him that he liked. There would be no pressure or guilt from me. We had tried just about everything before: starvation diets, keto, vegetarian, strict vegan, everything… We’d lose some weight and then gain it all back. So it was understood that he would not be joining me on my health journey this time.
After about four or five months into my journey, I had lost about 40 pounds and my husband was taking notice and complimenting my progress. Then, we stumbled across a Youtube video of a woman named Annette Larkins who’s in her early 70s, yet she looks like she’s in her 30s. She was talking about all of the healthy foods she eats straight from her garden and how she stays looking so young. When the camera panned to her grey-haired husband, my husband quickly turned to me and said “From now on, give me what you’re eating. I will not have people thinking you are my daughter!”
He joined me that very day. It happened without any begging or nagging.
Looking back, the powerful change in our lives came because I decided to just work on myself, first.
If I had beat him over the head with it, he would’ve rejected it forever. But, when he saw how disciplined I had become and saw my efforts were actually working, that made all the difference. He saw how creative I had become at swapping out unhealthy ingredients in our favorite foods and turning them into healthy ones. He saw how committed I had become to learning about the science behind it all, and trusted me to show him the way.
Nearly two years later, we are both super grateful that we made the change. We learned that a food addiction was at the root of our decades-long struggle with our health. We both were addicted to sugary foods and frequently used them as entertainment, to reward ourselves for a hard day’s work and even used them to dull the pain when life got hard.
We had dangerously positioned food in our lives to serve purposes it was never designed to serve.
We didn’t realize it at the time, but our food addiction had got in the way of our very intimacy and bond. Instead of turning to each other during difficult times, we turned to food. Instead of communicating our needs to each other, we silently let issues fester and numbed the pain with cookies, cakes and pies because they provided a jolly distraction. Ultimately, we used food to fill voids only God was meant to fill. It turned out to be as much of spiritual journey as a physical one.
Now we can enjoy a simple, healthy meal together. We are so grateful for the lifestyle change and the many unexpected benefits that came along with it.
When I started my journey, I remember just wanting to get healthy. I didn’t know how much it would completely change my life or my marriage.
If I had listened to the doubts that tried to play out in my mind, I would’ve missed out on this wonderful experience of total rejuvenation – and you wouldn’t be reading this now.
Our dramatic transformation caused people in our community to inquire about what we had done. I didn’t realize how impassioned I had become about health until I found myself excitedly talking to people for hours about the different changes we’d made to our lifestyle. This inspired me to write Worth the Weight, to share my story and the strategies I had implemented in our lives.
Suddenly I had a new calling on my life: to help other Christian women get through the spiritual and physical process that is necessary to reclaim their health and lose weight, permanently.
Let me know: Has food been filling a void in your life? How could you see yourself transforming your life over the next month? The next year? What steps have you already taken?