Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Lose a job, gain some weight

Recently, I wrote an article about our family's experience of my husband's layoff. You can read it here. My husband was laid off in 2005 and out of work for six months. It was our first experience of a layoff, and it was a hard time, both emotionally and financially.

Well, that column hit a nerve. I got more response to that article than I ever have to any of my writing. People found me through my website, my e-mail, this blog and through other web searches. All of them were families whose primary job-holder was laid off. I began to think I should have a job loss blog, not a weight loss blog!

As I thought about the relationship between joblessness and weight struggles, I remembered how depressed my husband became as the weeks went by, losing hope by the day. He began to eat for consolation and perhaps through boredom, something he'd never done before. It worried me, and I bit my tongue many times. Any comment I made would be cruel and rooted in anxiety about our situation, but it's hard to watch a loved one self-destruct.

At the time, I hadn't lost all my weight, so that fact also kept my mouth shut. Who was I to tell him what to do or not do? Yet I recognized emotional eating for what it was then, and it was the start of recognizing it in myself. Today, I'm aware that the minute I have the house to myself, my mind wanders over to the refrigerator and pantry, thinking about what might be in there for me. I've traced that to my childhood, when I would stay up long past everyone else and watch late-night movies, just to have the house to myself. I would sneak food while I watched, but I had to hide my tracks so I wouldn't give myself away and get in trouble. (My parents considered snacking to be almost sinful.)

I guess childhood habits die hard. The pull of the quiet house and the promise of food still works on my psyche today. I'll bet that the pull of the quiet house is working on many job-seekers today, too. But you might want to take it easy on your spouse. My husband got a job after six months, and today has lost all the weight he gained then. We're grateful for both his job and our health!


  1. Hi Nancy! I have a bachelor's degree in journalism, worked as a newspaper reporter/photographer for five years, and now I advise a student media department at a college. So yes, I'm a journalism geek!

  2. I too find myself wandering towards the fridge when everyone is gone. It's gotten much better, but I know all that extra snacking was what helped put those pounds on.

    Nice post and I'm glad your husband got a job. It's been rough for many and I understand where you're coming from.