Did you know that the average person will gain up to 7 pounds in the first year of a new relationship, and couples in a relationship will gain 21 pounds each after 10 years of matrimony? That is what a study published in the journal BioPsychoSocial Medicine discovered. In fact, research across several different countries attributed the relationship weight gain to emotional stability and spending less time exercising due to lack of time. As statistics and polls reveal, year after year, when people are in relationships, (especially new and happy ones), they tend to eat meals out more often and have trips to the cinema or movie nights at home regularly, so it’s easy to see how the pounds can creep on.
According to Women’s Health, new love is time-and mind-consuming, and people tend to skimp gym time and trade that for more snuggle time. Weight gain does not just happen in new relationships; married women fall prey to this phenomenon, too. Certainly, physical attraction plays a huge, initial part in relationships and compatibility – it’s one of the reasons why people are first attracted to each other in the first place. Typically, people “in the market” put more effort and energy into their appearance when they are beginning new relationships and first dating. But once those month and year anniversaries become too many to keep track of, chances are people become so comfortable in their relationship that impressing their partner is no longer the utmost first priority anymore.
When people are single and looking for love, chances are they take more time and attention to their appearance by perhaps eating healthier and exercising more because they want to impress future love matches. Cooking healthy meals at home and going to the gym regularly may probably be on the agenda. Once they finally hook up and fall in love, however, people do not feel as motivated to look good because they already have their partners hooked. Love has a way of making you feel special, no matter how much weight you gain, especially if your boyfriend doesn’t acknowledge your body’s changes. And once you are married, other responsibilities may become more important –children, home, finances, career, expenses – and looking good takes a back seat.
Friends and family can certainly tempt you to stray from healthy eating habits, and our partners are no different. Our social culture teaches us that eating with someone is always more fun, and we feel less guilty about indulging in fatty foods when someone else is right alongside us, too. If your partner is less of a health-conscious eater to begin with, you may start to inherit your partner’s fast food, pizza, and beer diet as a way to bond or because it is a convenient and easy solution to dinner. If your significant other is not regularly active, it might be difficult for you to get up for that run when he/she is pulling you back on the couch to cuddle. Remember it is always more of a challenge to remain healthy in the face of temptation.
New couples tend to spend a lot of time together, forgoing the activities they did when they were single (unless the gym routine or exercise program is part of both of your daily regimens). Your alone time becomes your couple time, especially if you have a busy schedule with work or other priorities. If you both skip a workout here and order some greasy takeout there before you know it, you will both have more than just butterflies in your stomachs—you will both have some bread baking on the side of your waistbands. Visits to the gym and those solo after-work walks around the neighborhood get put on the back burner in favor of spending time with your partner. Women are also (typically) the caretakers in the relationships, so they are more prone to put their needs, healthy and otherwise, last on the list. Women in relationships typically have more influence over a couple’s habits than the man. That is because women tend to do more of the grocery shopping and cooking, and tend to incorporate fresher, healthier foods into their diet in general. Couples that are married and busy with kids and other responsibilities may tell themselves that they do not have the time or the energy to even think about exercise!
Good stress, known as eustress, can actually fuel relationship weight gain. Even happy, euphoric feelings (unfortunately) can make people turn to the fridge in almost a celebration mentality. However, people will probably experience the bad kind of stress when relationships take a few hits down a bumpy road. One of the most common ways people deal with stress is to emotionally eat it away, which almost always, backfires.
When people are single, they are more likely to eat smaller, healthier foods at home. But once people are in relationships, dinner dates are followed by caloric brunches and co-late night snacking. Couples bond over food because it is a special ritual in their relationship. That is not good news for your waistline: A Men's Health magazine analysis of 24 national chains revealed that the average entree at a sit-down restaurant contains 867 calories. (And that does not include appetizers, sides, or dessert).
A study last year in the journal Obesity found that couples who live together for two or more years are less likely to be physically active and the women are more likely to become obese. As positive as relationships can be, they also change your routine. People begin scheduling more couple's events and less “personal” time to themselves. The gym and other fitness choices seem to take a back seat to dinner and drinks with your new hottie.
When your sweetheart suggests a Sunday matinee and early dinner, counter offer with an outdoor hike and a picnic packed with fresh fruits, hummus and other low-fat foods. Exercising together is one of the most motivating tools for weight loss, and also one of the most effective. Go for a walk after dinner, even just around the block. Just move your bodies together! It does not have to be in a big aluminum warehouse filled with big electronic machines.
It may be cute when your partner dangles a delicious piece of chocolate over your mouth and proceeds to devour it without gaining a millimeter in his/her waist or thighs, but if you cannot resist temptation, simply ask your partner to stop tempting you. Out of sight, out of mind just may help in your fight against relationship weight.
You resolve to order the low carb and fiber packed salad at dinner, but your partner goes for the burger or large pizza and finagles you into eating half of it. If you’re going to give into your main squeeze, at least go 60/40. Common mistake partners (especially women) typically make is splitting a meal down the middle. Ladies, remember that men have a higher caloric intake and can eat more without gaining weight. Just because your appetite matches him, doesn’t mean your portions should.
Cooking together can be intimate, because the food is very sensual, especially when couples take turns tasting it. Eating in allows people to control what goes into the food, including the fat and calorie content. When you do dine out, eat a healthy snack that contains protein and fiber a few hours before your meal. When people skimp on meals all day, especially when they are going to go out that night, their bodies are left so hungry that they end up overdoing it. Nonfat yogurt, a piece of fruit, a dollop of almond or nut butter or a small bowl of cereal with low-fat milk are all smart choices.
It's great to accept your body and not obsess over every last calorie, but it's hard to feel good about yourself when none of your pants fit. To prevent eating habits from spiraling out of control, check yourself with regular weigh-ins on a scale and write it down in a journal or log. Studies show that once people pass the five-pound mark, weight gain can take off like a runaway train. Seeing the scale creep toward that mark and documenting the process can be a call to action.
A study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that women who exercised with a partner lost more weight than those who sweat solo. When people do something together, they are more likely to stick with it. Sign up and train together for a 5-K, go for a bike ride instead of watching a movie, or join the same gym. When you do not feel like going, your partner will be there to motivate you and do the same for your partner.
Sources: fitsugar.com, mayocinic.com