Suburban Snapshots


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My husband is not a large man...wait, that sounds all wrong.

My husband is thin. He's always been thin — genetically, irreversibly thin. Over the course of our 12 years together, I've had between 20 and 40 pounds on him despite being almost 2 inches shorter.

He keeps in good shape but it seems almost impossible for him to ingest the number of calories required by his finely-tuned furnace of a body to put on weight (at last estimate, he needs more than 3200 calories per day to gain one pound a week). He's on the verge of eating nothing but pasta, peanut butter, and avocado sandwiches. Also, because God is positively hilarious, Steve has high cholesterol. So basically if he has any meat on his bones he's on Lipitor. Ba-dum-bum.

A few months ago in addition to minding the toddler during the day, he took a job that has him on his feet for 6 hours a night, constantly moving and lifting (read: burning hundreds more precious calories). Predictably, he's lost weight. He is not pleased. His doctor ordered him to gain weight, his own discomfort and loose jeans demand it. So he set about crawling the Interwebs for high-calorie recipes, low-cholesterol, fat-packed foods, even those pricey, questionable, powdered drink mixes bodybuilders use.

I don't think many of us can fathom having this problem, or even considering it a legitimate challenge. I've joked about it, feigning sympathy for his inability to cram enough food into his piehole while I track and count and exercise and avoid anything with even a passing resemblance to a Girl Scout cookie. But I'm starting to understand that being on his side of the struggle is as frustrating as it is on my side. Within every helpful thread about high-calorie diets is some trolling schmuck repeating the same tired comment about how people like Steve should be grateful to have to fight so hard to gain weight when the rest of the country struggles to eradicate the muffintop pandemic.

So now we are a household that tracks our food consumption, he groaning when he hasn't quite hit his goal, me lamenting when I go over my own. We eat the same meals though he gets twice my serving plus an added tablespoon of olive oil and a milkshake for dessert (note: not a euphemism). It’s helped us understand each other better, so when I am defeated after a gain he might think twice about offering his helpful, “Hon, you just need to exercise a little more” advice. When he complains that his jeans ride lower than a fugitive on COPS, I don’t reflexively tell him to “Go eat something.”

My husband is wiry but he’s strong, and though I’ve never in my life dealt with an inability to put on weight he’s helped me realize that just because something isn’t a typical struggle, it’s no less legitimate.

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