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Chronicles Of Crises In Our Communities – 11/16/07

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* * * * * * * * * *

Dear Rachel,

I am actually writing this letter right in front of my husband who chooses to ignore me. My hope is that you will read this and help me get across to him in some way.

We have been married for seven years. When we first met, my husband took great care of himself and was a healthy, energetic and attractive person. As soon as we got married, my husband put on some weight. I know this is very common, but I also know that a mature individual takes his health seriously.

My husband has totally ignored all the signs, the comments, and the bathroom scale. Pants go up a size a year. Suits that I am fond of have somehow never seen the light of day after our first few months of marriage.

I’ve tried every tactic to help control his bad eating habits. Perfectly healthy suppers are spoiled with “just one frank.” One sandwich for lunch somehow becomes two. Instead of breakfast at home, it’s a Danish or two from the bakery. Eating leftovers straight past midnight, guzzling soda all day long, and doubling portions at every opportunity can only lead to trouble. All my nagging, begging, and tactful reasoning have turned me into a monster in his eyes. And what do I have to show for all my hard work? Weight that keeps piling on, only to spite me. Because, in his words, I am trying to control his life.

I know that there are no guarantees in life. We see healthy people who die young and vice versa, but isn’t it a mitzvah to take care of your health? What about the fear of leaving your family fatherless – does that not strike a chord? What of simply feeling good because the extra 20 pounds are finally gone and people are telling you how great you look? Nowadays, pursuing a healthy lifestyle should be a top priority on everyone’s list.

Besides, my husband’s grandfather died young from a heart attack. His father has been battling high cholesterol his whole life and one of his uncles has just had a stroke. What more of a warning does one need? How many ways can I express my fear that one day my family and I might, G-d forbid, face the consequences for his selfish behavior?

How do I deal with the hostility that I face when I beg and plead for change? “Your uncle has just had a stroke…” is returned with, “He’s 40! I have ten more years!” “Please don’t eat those leftovers, it’s way into the night and you’ll get acid reflux,” brings, “I’ll just get more Prevacid, Zantax, whatever…”

And what of the laws of attraction? Who’s to say that only women are required to look good for their husbands? Did I ever dream of marrying an overweight, pill popping, snoring man who gets migraines and acid reflux? These symptoms didn’t exist when we got married!

I’m at the end of my rope. I still dream of looking at the same handsome, young man again, but my husband is now on a campaign to totally ignore me regarding this issue. Is there a way I could say anything to him to make him understand that there are serious repercussions to his lifestyle?

I love him, I adore him, and I want to keep him with me as long as possible. Is there any way of coming across?

Tried and failed

Dear Tried,

Aside from handing him this column to read, the best person to inform your hubby of the cold hard facts is his doctor. Your role is to serve up healthy meals, leave nosh on the supermarket shelves and out of your shopping cart, teach by example, and drag him for his annual checkup. When you do bring up the subject, be subtle and objective rather than critical and accusing. Try “Faye’s husband had a real scare . . . his doctor said he was really lucky and put him on a strict diet.” “I’ve been feeling sluggish lately. I’m thinking of cutting down my meat consumption to once a week.” “It’s perfect outdoors for a walk/bike riding. I can use some company”

The other day I ran into an old friend whom I hadn’t seen in a while. I did a double take. He was about half the size (in girth) from the last time we had met. The customary “How are you?” elicited a “Baruch Hashem, never better”

It turned out that this friend has shed over 60 pounds. Concerned, I asked if anything of a serious nature had precipitated the loss. “Nah,” he replied. “My blood pressure was a little high, and I had a little sugar after 50 years of indifference, it was time to treat myself well. My wife and I decided – you know, it helps to be in it together – that besides for doing the right thing, VeNishmartem Me’od Le’Nafshoteichem [the Torah instructs us to guard our spiritual and physical health], we owe it to our grandchildren to keep ourselves in the best of shape. Of course this means eating right and exercising – which is something I don’t get enough of yet. But I used to have trouble just bending down couldn’t do it, in fact. And now it’s no problem at all.”

With a shy smile he added, “This is more than just my body, it is a housing for my neshamah.”

Not much more to add, I would say. This friend basically wrapped it up quite coherently. The bottom line is that being overweight is a health hazard and that the extra fat poundage is known to be associated with diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, and cancer – not to mention the agony of physical discomfort.

Note to those who are restricting their caloric intake and yet fail to see results: Consult your physician who can determine whether your thyroid is in working order.

What do our readers have to say? We invite your feedback.

About the Author: We encourage women and men of all ages to send in their personal stories via email to rachel@jewishpress.com or by mail to Rachel/Chronicles, c/o The Jewish Press, 4915 16th Ave., Brooklyn, N.Y. 11204. If you wish to make a contribution and help agunot, your tax-deductible donation should be sent to The Jewish Press Foundation. Please make sure to specify that it is to help agunot, as the foundation supports many worthwhile causes.


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