"He Makes Me Feel Bad About Being Fat"

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The Counselor's Turn

Understanding Each Other's Terms

"Food fights in marriage -- from what to eat to how much money to spend on food -- are very common," said the counselor, "partly because food is so deeply rooted in our backgrounds. In examining their families of origin, I could easily see how Liz's and Seth's attitudes were shaped. She was looking to him for the unconditional love and support she didn't get from her pragmatic, no-nonsense mother -- a woman who, not accidentally, Seth resembled. 'You were drawn to a man with whom you could continue the unconscious struggle to win the nurturing you missed as a child,' I told Liz. 'You're reaching out for love.'

"Meanwhile, Seth expected Liz to be more independent. Having pretty much grown up on his own, he believed in individual responsibility and didn't really get the team player concept that permeated Liz's view of marriage. This meant he resisted being drawn into her dieting and exercise routine, which he came to see as a lost cause anyway.

"You Can Succeed Alone"

"Initially I tried to convince the couple to work together to end their power struggle. But their complaints continued unabated, so I decided to abandon the team approach. I urged Liz to find a diet she could stick with without Seth's help. 'You must do this for your health and self-esteem,' I said. 'If Seth comes along for the ride, great. But you can succeed alone.'

"Inspired by my straight talk, Liz researched several programs, selected the South Beach Diet and lost 45 pounds in six months. Currently she's losing about two pounds a week by avoiding simple carbohydrates and eating smaller portions. She also goes by herself to a gym several times a week. 'If Seth wants to accompany you and exercise at his own pace, fine,' I said, 'but don't let his absence become your excuse for not going.' 

"I told Seth that if he didn't want to eat Liz's low-carb cooking, he should prepare his own meals. When the family dined out, I advised him to let Liz choose the restaurant. Seth agreed, but soon after Liz started South Beach, he decided to join her. Now, every morning before work, the couple plans their dinner menu or select a restaurant. They have begun cooking with marinades, spices, and herbs; not only do their sons enjoy these meals, but each has trimmed down along with his parents.

"After trying several classes, Liz discovered she enjoys yoga. 'It alleviates the joint pain I felt from carrying around so much weight,' she said. 'That helps me stick with it.'

Continued on page 5:  The Counselor's Turn, continued


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