By Jean Lawrence
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature
Reviewed By Louise Chang, MD
Have you put your sex life on hold while you wait for those last 10 (or even 100) pounds to disappear? While losing weight and getting healthier can definitely get those urges going again, depriving yourself of romance in the meantime is not a good idea.
Statistics show that people who have sex regularly tend to have stronger immune systems, are less likely to be depressed, and live longer. Marriages in which the kitchen has not replaced the bedroom also tend to last longer and be more satisfying.
"Sex is fun," says Hanne Blank, author of Big Big Love: A Sourcebook on Sex for People of Size and Those Who Love Them. "Sex is good for you. Sex is good for PMS. Sex is part of what we do socially as human beings."
And while movies, television, and advertising would have us believe that sex is only for the svelte, keep in mind that statistics show two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese. Yet people keep getting married. Babies keep getting born. Someone out there is still "doing it" and presumably enjoying the heck out of it, weight or no weight.
Who's In Charge -- Hollywood or You?
"We are just on the wrong side of the world and the wrong era," says Rina Valan-Hudson, who founded a company called Fantasia Home Parties to bring women of size together to buy the latest in marital aids and lingerie. She says today's "real woman" would go over big (so to speak) on the curve-loving island of Fiji or in the era of the Baroque artist Peter Paul Rubens.
Of course, Hollywood and Madison Avenue don't help, with all the Size 0s running around.
"This is a very prejudiced society against weight," says Hale Dwoskin, author of the motivational bestseller, The Sedona Method. The method is not a diet, but a way of programming negatives out of your life. Thinking you're fat, and therefore unattractive, would be one of those negatives.
"Let's face it," Blank says, "body parts are body parts. There are only so many ways you can rearrange them. The problem is not the sex, but getting to the sex, meaning getting past people's preconceptions."
Those people, she adds, include the heavy person him -- or herself. "We do a good job of policing ourselves," she says. "There are plenty of men and women who like the feel of a more substantial person."
"We are obsessed with bodies!" Dwoskin says. "Everyone has secret shame and disapproval of some part of their body. No one wants to get naked, and this includes thin people. Everyone can be free of this."
How to Break Free
Dwoskin's method of letting go of stress and negative feelings is based on three questions. Once you take a look at why you are not having sex (fear, self-disgust, anticipation of what your partner might feel), you ask yourself:
- "Could I let this go?"
- "Will I let this go?"
- Then: "When?"
If you bring your underlying emotions to the surface, you become more "present," he says. "Everyone wants a date or bedmate who is present and engaged."
Here are some other ideas for getting past the negative feelings that can inhibit romance:
- Focus on parts of your body you do like. Befriend your graceful hands or strong arms. Appreciate the curves of your slim ankles.
- Accept yourself as you are. This doesn't mean you can't change. But wanting to change something, Dwoskin says, keeps us focused on the negative (the thing we want to change). Change comes when you focus on the positive. "Self-acceptance makes it easier to change."
- Remember, you are perfect, even if you don't think so. You will also be perfect when you lose 25 pounds, but not more perfect.
- Quit seeking approval -- or, the flip side, expecting disapproval. Could you do that? Would you? When?
- Just let go. Dwoskin teaches the art of surrender -- and where is that more appropriate than in bed?
- Blank, who has also written a book of larger-size erotica, says you should suspend your disbelief. Yes, that cute guy may be talking to you! That sexy babe may indeed want to buy you a drink! "Look at all the married people," she laughs. "They weren't all models when they got married and then put on weight."
If you still can't get past what you see in the mirror, Valan-Hudson reminds us is that vision is just one of the five senses. Heavier people may be orally oriented (in sex, this can be intriguing, yes?). Tactilely, they possess interesting curves and sensual spots. "You can really get into the touch thing," she says. Lotions and scents can tease the sense of smell.
The sense of hearing can also be sensual -- especially if the two lovers are talking openly about their likes and dislikes. Married people, especially, need to communicate more about sex, Dwoskin says. "This is the sexiest thing you can do."
No time for a heart-to-heart at night? Try for a morning delight. "Honey, you know, it kind of hurts when you do that." You get the idea.
Dwoskin also recommends not concentrating on your partner so much, but taking pleasure in your own sensations. If your partner is satisfying you, he or she will be satisfied, he says. The key is to stop worrying about that bulge that might be showing (which is probably the farthest thing from the mind of your partner, who is having sex, after all) and start feeling the sex. "Let go of guilt, fear, shame and self-consciousness," he says.
If you are shy about sex, Valan-Hudson suggests reviving your enjoyment of touch. Get some massages, facials, pedicures. (She also recommends strategically placed pillows when you do get to the main event. )
For those who are just getting into (or getting back into) the dating game, Valan-Hudson says, finding your romance groove can be a long process. You have nothing to lose by trying, though, she says. "If you are fun-loving, be fun-loving," she recommends. "Make eye contact. Not all men or women like a skinny partner. Everyone has an ego; pay attention to the person."
And once you get started down the road to romance, it becomes a healthy cycle. "The more sex you get, the more you will want," Valan-Hudson notes.
Back to Those Sexy Scanties
Buying new lingerie can make you feel sexier. But Valan-Hudson says heavier women often think they need to buy the sort of getups you might see in an X-rated film -- garter belts and the like. Of course, you can get this type of outfit; even Victoria's Secret is carrying realistic sizes these days. Or you could create your own sexy style.
"My first recommendation is buy a good, sexy bra," Valan-Hudson says. "This is your base, then you can add a couple of items on top. A nightie or peignoir, perhaps. "Go with what makes you feel sexy," she says (he might even prefer your Scooby Doo t-shirt!).
Emphasize your favorite body part. If you have great legs, get a slinky gown cut "up to there." If see-through is not you, get a drapey silk gown, cut on the bias. But don't wear anything that makes you uncomfortable, emotionally or physically. If you do buy a bustier, make sure you can breathe in it (breathlessness should come later).
You could wear some of this under a robe -- or even a raincoat, Valan-Hudson laughs. "Leave something to be discovered."
What you might (re)discover is how much fun sex is. "I tell people the five secrets to great sex are communication, communication, communication, a sense of humor, and lubrication," laughs Blank.
Originally published Friday, February 06, 2004.
Medically updated February 2007.
SOURCES: Hanne Blank, author, Big Big Love: A Sourcebook on Sex for People of Size and Those Who Love Them and Zaftig: Well-Rounded Erotica. Hale Dwoskin, author, The Sedona Method. Rina Valan-Hudson, founder, Fantasia Home Parties.
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