A4P Guest: “I was not overweight before I got married. After I had my two kids, I gained more than 20 pounds and I am still struggling to lose but nothing seems to work. My major problem though is my embarrassment before my husband. I feel like he doesn’t like me anymore because of the extra pounds I put on especially around my belly. I feel so unattractive. I feel exposed whenever I think of sexual intimacy. My husband repeatedly told me that he doesn’t care. Does weight gain affect sexual intimacy? What do I need to do to feel good about myself and enjoy my intimate moments with my husband as I used to?”
A4P: First, let me state my assumptions here before I jump into addressing your questions:
I assume that you are doing well when it comes to your personal relationship with your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I assume that you pray, read and mediate the word of God daily. You go to church and fellowship with other believers in Christ. If this is the case, then I will try to address your question.
I said that because my intention here is not to show you the techniques how to find contentment and joy because these are only found in Christ. Apart from Him, the rest of my advice would be nonsense. So please bear that in mind.
Okay, so, yes, weight gain can be a problem for most mothers especially after a baby. Yes, there is a genetic factor to it but only 30%, as some researchers assert. The rest 70% of your weight represents your lifestyle choices. I know that is a kind of tough truth to swallow but it is the fact.
When you said, “Nothing seems to work,” how many things have you tried so far? Did you try exercise; did you try changing your lifestyle (means changing your diet from junk to healthy food, like vegetables and fruits)?
You see, sometimes we wish to lose weight but we aren’t willing to do the work. We just enjoy complaining about our weight while we do absolutely nothing about it.
After my first child, I (Missy) gained around 20 pounds and continued to gain. I was breastfeeding so I excused myself from drinking water and eating fruits and vegetables saying, “I have to eat for two people and I have to eat food that is high in fat and carbs.” (BTW, breastfeeding helps burn those stubborn belly fats but only if you eat healthy foods and drink lots of water; no soda and no sweet drinks, including 100% juice.)
And one day, browsing through the Internet, I found this method that worked for so many mothers and I tried it and worked for me perfectly.
All you have to do is this: Have a notebook that you take with yourself wherever you go and jot down whatever you put something into your mouth; starting from one skittle to full blown lunch, and a cup of water (you record everything in a measurable way, like two skittles, one juicy fruity candy, 6oz orange juice and so on) and you will record what time you eat. Then at the end of the day, you give the list to your accountable partner who encourages you positively to stick to your goal.
Well, I did this for a couple of days and I found out, to my surprise, that I was eating like a hippopotamus. I mean I was literally eating my heart out. I used to eat anything and everything and every three to five minutes. May God have mercy on me!
Sometimes, my list gets so long that I get embarrassed to show it to my Berhan (my husband). Yes, I would hand it over to him at the end of the day so that he would hold me responsible and accountable (he is my accountability partner).
That was an eye opener for me. That was the time I realized that weight doesn’t just come on me. I work towards to it.
After a week or so, I changed my eating habit completely (sure I sometimes cheat here and there).
And do you know what else I found out about myself during that time? Well, I was eating not because I was hungry but because I was stressed or feeling lonely or bored. My stomach (well I better say, my brain) took food as “a stress reliever” or as “an antidepressant, or a coping mechanism.
If I can’t fall asleep because my baby is up, I would just sit and eat ice cream. If I get stressed and feel blues, I would cook lasagna and eat. Not good at all!
Little by little, I learned to read good books, meditate on the word of God, fasting and praying (only for few hours) and interacting with people who have little kids instead of turning to food for every emotional needs.
This simple method worked for me quite well. It won’t hurt if you try it. Don’t eat anything without recording it on your notebook. And if you feel comfortable, share your notebook with your husband or someone so you will be accountable and responsible for your actions.
Well, does weight gain affect sexual intimacy? Oh, yes it does! Unless you feel comfortable with your body, it can be a bit tough for you to desire and enjoy sex with your husband and this is very common problem with most women with little kids.
But let me tell you one fact about your husband’s sexual nature (unless he is one of those unique and rare ones). Most husbands’ sexual interest rarely gets affected by their wives’ big and floppy belly. I know! This sounds so counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? If I am not mistaken, I read this fact in one of these two fantastic books, “For Women only” by Shaunti Feldhahn or “No More Headaches” by Dr. Juli Slattery).
What you see in the mirror is not what your husband sees when he is in the mood for sex. Your floppy belly is the least of his worries. So, don’t bother and I’m glad that your husband is affirming you that you still look fabulous. I’m so proud of him! (But this doesn’t mean that your husband doesn’t want you to work on your body. He does! He loves to see your beautiful body and face.)
That being said, though, if your weight gain gets out of control to the point of taking away your energy and sexual interest and expose you to multiple health issues including sleep apnea and depression, your husband sexual desire towards you will be affected in a negative way.
Know that you are always sexually attractive to your husband when you feel good about yourself and have confidence in yourself. So, find a method that works for you to lose the extra weight. And you are also attractive for your husband when your heart is healthy and happy. Exercise is the best way to feel good about yourself. However you may not lose that much weight from exercise if you don’t change your eating habits but still light exercise like walking will boost your stamina, energy and sense of well-being (because of the endorphins which are released in your body after exercise).
So, change your diet, exercise and understand your husband’s beautiful sexual nature, and feel good about yourself. And the rest will be as easy as running down the hill.
But again, all these good suggestions mean nothing if you neglect your spiritual devotion. ///