I married my best friend when we were in our early twenties even though the wife criteria my teenage mind had prioritized may not have included friendship. Though my written list of attributes for my future wife has been mercifully lost for years, I am sure that some of the top priorities were written to paint a picture of a woman with a model’s body and a compassionate heart, in that order. Imagine the most intelligent, giving, exemplary mother, and then put her in a bikini. If that creates an image that rivals an image of every supermodel, then imagine that she is so wholesome and modest that she would never wear a bikini in public and you would glimpse my picture of my future wife.
Serving a mission for our church in San Diego until the month I turned 21 included a combination of teaching people about Jesus Christ, growing up a little, and learning about myself–all while being surrounded by beautiful California girls I had never met. Even though Pam did not fit my picture of my future spouse, she wrote to me faithfully through those years while I was off to college and on my mission. I enjoyed the letters and wrote back almost as often as I received a letter from her. Before and after my mission, we enjoyed talking in person and on the phone. We enjoyed spending time together. We were friends. We talked about our goals. We laughed together. I had not changed my image of my future wife, but I noticed that my revised version of the criteria for my future wife had shortened to be a woman like Pam, but with a supermodel body. I still did not see where that was going.
Looking back after over 30 years of happily ever after, I know that I eventually realized that the reasons for marrying someone are much bigger than my childish list. It is not all about me. How can I be a better companion? Her needs are more important than mine. I figured out that I had to live up to someone’s expectations too. What do I contribute to this relationship? Some of these concepts barely crossed my mind before we were married.
That leads me to explain my role in Pam’s weight loss. I have not spent time being critical of her size over the years. It was clear to me that the extra weight was mostly a result of five difficult pregnancies in a row, and I realized that her size could stay the same for many years. I did not think of her as a size, and she was healthy, which was most important. I helped by being supportive and encouraging, which was easy as her fondest fan. I helped her through slumps of low self-esteem, but she did all the work. I mostly had to stay out of the way, because once she became determined to get fit, she was a woman on a mission. After what seemed like a short while, I was the heavier one. I have been trying to catch up ever since.
Pam’s experience with weight loss and fitness includes several different aspects. This is not about the latest in fad diets, or starving yourself, or bariatric surgery. None of those work. Determination, stubbornness, confidence, consistency, hope, and faith are all in the mix.