Ask Calorie Ken: Mad in Mustang

Are healthy weight management and a healthy relationship mutually exclusive?

By , Columnist
Dear Calorie Ken,

After topping off a greasy BBQ joint meal with a big bowl of ice cream, my husband sat across the table from me one night and bragged about his weight loss while I was eating a dry baked potato, green beans, and smoked chicken, not losing an ounce.  I told him I wished I were a lesbian because if he were a woman, he wouldn’t be able to eat like that and lose weight, and I wouldn't have to listen to him. I really wonder sometimes whether being married (and straight for that matter) helps or hurts my weight management efforts. What do you think?

Mad in Mustang (Oklahoma)

Dear Mad,

Too bad the genetics gods don’t bestow bisexuality on all of us so we could better select a more perfect partner whenever the current one so grossly crosses the line that there's nothing to do but throw the bastard out! 

Indeed, it is a sad fact that men lose weight faster than women, but your thoughtless husband doesn't have to remind you of it. Women are predisposed to store and retain fat; men's bodies respond more quickly to exercise; women may have a lower tolerance to says the conventional wisdom, but look around you. Do you really see more thin men than women? Calorie Ken reminds you that weight loss is not the goal. Weight loss is the byproduct of making better choices and making a long-term plan. Remember - you have to change your mind before you can change your body.  

Is your husband a thin man? And, if he loses weight, does he keep it off, or is he just a yo-yo-dieting braggart? My guess is that he may lose a pound or two or ten, but he will gain it right back and a few more to boot, so don’t let his gloating get to you - he’ll be bloating soon enough. 

Truly, there are some people who really can eat like a pig and not gain weight, but they are rare, and they are not doing their bodies any favors by using their free food pass.  Skinny people can have heart attacks too, and there is cosmic justice in the possibility of them having bad heart genes, or, at the very least, bad heartburn.

Mad, I am blessed with a partner who, when I committed two years of my life to the CALERIE Study, committed two years of his life to supporting me.  He did not watch his portions like I did, but we changed what we ate together.  I was lucky, but you sound like you are in the same boat as Cathy Bates’s character, Evelyn, in Fried Green Tomatoes. Evelyn decided to change her life, and her husband didn’t know what to do, and when he laid down the law that he was the man, and she needed to wait on him and nothing was going to change, she said (in Calorie Ken’s paraphrase), “Honey, I love you, but this train is moving on down the track - get on, or catch another one.”

So, don’t get mad, get Glad.  Save those greasy leftovers and feed ‘em to pig man tomorrow.  Just make sure his life insurance is paid up and that there's as much of it as there is Ben & Jerry's in his belly. Meanwhile, focus on yourself.  Make a long-term plan that includes a tasty variety of nutritious food, drink, and regular exercise. 

Find a support group. Join Weight Watchers or Jenny Craig, or another diet program.  BUT...if you do, don’t rely on the diet program to do the work for you.  You absolutely must know the calories and nutritional content of everything that touches your lips.  

And, tell that husband of yours that his lips can’t touch yours until he brushes that pig fat breath away and commits to recognizing your swanky perfection. If he can’t do that, remember Evelyn and what she told Mrs. Threadgoode after she stood up up to two thin young women who stole her parking space by smashing her car into theirs multiple times with wild abandon and told them, "Face it, girls, I'm older, and I have more insurance": 

"I never get mad, Mrs Threadgoode. Never. The way I was raised, it was bad manners. Well, I got mad, and it felt terrific. I felt like I could beat the sh*t out of all those punks. Excuse my language. Just beat 'em to a pulp. Beat 'em till they begged for mercy. Towanda the avenger! And after I wipe out all the punks of this world, I'll take on the wife-beaters, like Frank Bennett, and machine-gun their genitals! Towanda will go on the rampage. I'll put tiny little bombs in Penthouse and Playboy so they'll explode when you open them. And I'll ban all fashion models who weigh less than 130 pounds. And I'll give half the military budget to people of 65 and declare wrinkles sexually desirable. Towanda, righter of wrongs, queen beyond compare!"

And, if all else fails, Iowa is not too far from Oklahoma geographically, but light years away in progressive politics. Find yourself a good woman, move to Iowa, marry her, call each other Towanda and Queenie, and share a healthy weight management journey together.


Swanky reader, Calorie Ken wants to hear from you!  
Post your comments below, and send your questions to  And, tell others!  Post on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn...everywhere, and share with your e-mail distribution lists. We hope to make Calorie Ken the Dear Abby of good health and nutrition, and we need your help.  Cheers!

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For two years, Ken Brooks (Calorie Ken) was a volunteer in the Tufts University CALERIE Study. He is now a nutrition evangelist. Send your nutrition, weight management, general health and exercise questions to

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