Should Menopausal Women’s Husbands be Allowed to be Slim?
My husband is thin, I am not, and I hate him for it.
We weren’t always like Jack Sprat and his portly wife; in our twenties we were both slim, then in the next decade we took turns at piling on the pounds. He drank and snacked himself into rotundity, whilst I enjoyed double cream on cornflakes during two well-fed pregnancies.
Now I’m approaching fifty — a milestone he passed three years ago — and the scales have tipped in his favour (if you’ll pardon the pun), and try as I might, I can’t seem to redress the balance.
In fairness, his litheness isn’t entirely his fault. He has gallstones, a curse of the middle-aged, (which women are three times more likely to suffer than men). They caused him such screaming agony that, until his gallbladder is removed, he is too terrified to eat fat because doing so could cause another painful attack.
In the first month after a rather dramatic ambulance ride, his new diet led to him lose a stone in weight. Since then he has lost two more. My kids call him a skinny legend. I’m emerald with envy. I don’t want gallstones (really, I don’t). What I do want is a man’s ongoing ability to lose weight whatever age he is.
I used to be able to cut down on booze and snacks, take an extra stroll and drop five pounds in a week. Then I reached my forties.
‘Try my diet,’ my husband said, after the engorgement of Christmas, ‘It’ll fall off.’
Did it? Did it fuck. I stopped drinking, I had zero snacks and I ate exactly what he was eating — almost entirely fat free food. Admittedly I did lose weight. Ounces of it. Whilst he lost a stone in under four weeks, I lost fewer than three pounds.
My husband was very strokey beard about this and I could see in his eyes that he thought I must have been secret eating. I hadn’t.
It’s well documented that there are significant physiological and metabolic changes occurring in women of my age. Our lean muscle mass decreases whilst fat mass accumulates. That’s what I was starting to feel like, a fat mass.
Many women (the medical arm of the internet tells me) become less physically active as they pass from their 40’s into their 50’s, but I’m not one of them. I plod away on my cross trainer and exercise bike and contort into unnatural positions in yoga, just as I always have. Now I feel like there’s no point, I may as well just have a pie.
According the world-wide-web-of-woe I should also be reducing my calorie intake to compensate for my reduced metabolic rate. No. Just no. It’s not fair.
It’s additionally unfair that I have to watch my spousal skinny legend stuff his face with honey and crackers before bed to make sure he doesn’t lose any more weight and accidently find himself in the same waist-size jeans as me, despite being seven inches taller.
I have taken drastic action — I had a hysterectomy. Before you cover your mouth in shock, I didn’t do it to lose weight (although two pounds of organs were removed, which I swiftly replaced with cake). My uterus was making a bid for freedom, so I had it sucked out with a vacuum (that’s how they do it, right?).
Following that I’ve gone on HRT and so far, so good.
It’s early days, and I have been less active during recovery, but as soon as I’m fully healed, I’m going on a proper healthy eating regime and I plan to step out of this pear-shaped mould that middle-age has pushed me into. I hope the HRT will make this possible. I’ll let you know how I get on.
I also intend to banish this seething husband-resentment, and let the poor man have his hour in the sun. His gallbladder operation is scheduled, and I don’t know if he has the self-control to maintain his skinny legend status when curry is back on the menu. If he does, good luck to him, as long as I can join him in the glow of health and the long-lost joy of looking down and seeing my own feet.