The Divorce Diet

Photo used with creative commons license for the inastateofmotio

My whole life, whenever I’ve been stressed, my MO has been to comfort myself with food. Not to the point of morbid obesity – before marriage I had an annoyingly high enough metabolism and activity level that my weight stayed in control, even if I ate hearty amounts of food or spent all my weekends drinking beer in college – but if I was feeling stressed I’d reach for something crunchy and salty or give myself a treat like dark chocolate or a not-too-small bowl of ice cream. After my kids were born and I was all kinds of crazy with sleep deprivation, parental anxiety and sometimes boredom, I found myself eating twice as much at lunch as normal or grabbing extra snacks. Plus my advancing age made my metabolism a wee bit slower. So losing the accumulated baby weight was hard.

Then I made the decision to separate from my husband and it was like a lever that had only ever pointed toward “On,” was suddenly pulled down to “Off.” My appetite, for the first time, disappeared. And I loved it.

Food just didn’t sound good to me anymore. I was using MyFitnessPal at the time and had already lost at least 20-25 pounds, but I started to struggle to eat even the relatively small amount of food the app recommended. I was sleeping only 4-5 hours per night. I had so much nervous energy I worked out like a maniac, sometimes jogging for an hour at 9pm, followed by half an hour of abs and arm work, because it was the only time I could fit it in. I went from a size 10 to a size 6 in less than a year, and was even able to squeeze into some size 4 jeans (hello, vanity sizing!) at my lowest weight.

I’d never heard of the term “The Divorce Diet” until after I’d begun the journey of separation and divorce. When it started popping up in articles or blogs I read, it seems a lot of folks assume the nearly or newly divorced shed pounds in an effort to attract new mates once they’re legally unbound from their spouse (others look at it as sure evidence of an affair). I suppose that could be true in some cases, but I made the decision to divorce my husband with the full realization that I may never date, much less be married, again. Hooking up with another guy who might turn out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing was ranked at about a -32 on my list of things to do. For me the weight loss was prompted by skyrocketing stress levels and this weird feeling that I had to always be moving. But I enjoyed fitting into clothes I hadn’t been able to zip up since I got married, I marveled at my slimmer thighs and arms that felt toned. My confidence in how I looked went up about 68% and resulted in me getting hit on by guys such as car rental lot attendants and and even snagged me a marriage proposal from an Egyptian doctor while I ate lunch alone at a restaurant one afternoon. All while I was still wearing a wedding ring, I might add.

Once I made the decision to move forward with the divorce for good, however, that lever went back to on and I gained 10 pounds back almost immediately. All the cute clothes I bought last year don’t fit anymore (I’m short, so gaining even just 5-10 pounds can mean I jump up a size or two), so I’ve been wearing a lot of elastic waisted skirts and cotton dresses because I’m determined to get back into shape again and don’t want to buy anything in this bigger (still not overweight) size. But is that really possible if I’m eating normally and sleeping like a functioning human being again?

Having the kids only half the time means I theoretically have more time to exercise. Yesterday I jogged two miles without the jogging stroller and had my personal best time. This morning I went to Zumba. I don’t cook full meals when the kids aren’t here, relying too often on restaurant food or else trying to be healthy with egg whites or oatmeal for dinner.

What I think will have the most impact on how I look now that my divorce is final is my attitude – I’m happier now than I’ve been in years and that ability to smile is one divorce side effect I’m glad to show off, even if my legs could use some toning.

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If you’ve been divorced, did you lose weight through the process? If so, was it because of stress or because you hoped to get back in the dating game, or a little of both? Did the weight loss last? Did friends compliment your new look and credit the Divorce Diet?

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Photo copyright Mike Baird, used under creative commons rights.

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4 thoughts on “The Divorce Diet

  1. I feel like I could write the exact same thing. When I asked my husband to move out (last Sept) I slept very little, ate the bare minimum calories required to function because I had no appetite and had so much nervous energy I would exercise at 2AM. When we decided to move forward with our divorce (April) the switch flipped and I started eating everything in sight and lost the motivation to exercise. I’m hoping subsides and I can find a happy balance soon.

  2. I always really appreciate your honesty on all topics that divorce touches. I’ve been really inconsistent on myfitnesspal but eating pretty healthy overall. Sometimes it seems too tedious to figure out what to count everything as when a recipe is more complicated. I do, however, eat so much better when I’m calculating.

    • Yes, I do better keeping track, as well, but I’ve been eating out too much lately and it’s hard when it’s not a chain restaurant with a website where I can look up calories! I should just know that eating out is HIGH calories.

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