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Fat & Happy? The Truth Behind Extra ‘Relationship Weight’ And How To Keep It Off As A Couple

Being single is a lot of work. Juggling gym time along with earning a living, doing chores around the house and maintaining a social life. Whew! With the added pressure of trying look good, it’s enough to keep a single girl on her toes. But what happens when you find a significant other and pair up? Well, hold on to your girdle. Studies suggest putting on pounds during a relationship is a common phenomenon.

People speak about “relationship weight” sometimes, but I had hoped it was mythical. Turns out, getting fat (and hopefully happy) is a real thing when settling down. Several studies over the years have quantified relationship weight gain — around 17 pounds in the first year of marriage according to a poll by Jenny Craig — so what is going on?

A study published in 2012 the journal Obesity found that going from being single or dating to living together or getting married was linked to an increased risk of obesity. And the longer a woman lived with her romantic partner, the more likely she was to pack on pounds. And don’t think men get off easy. Their risk of obesity spiked between the first and second years of cohabitation.

Does the hunger for love manifest itself as overeating? Researchers made several conclusions. Couples, even dating couples, tend to enjoy dining as a pastime, so food becomes a primary driver of the relationship naturally. And then once married, there is less focus on everything that made them good potential mates in the first place (diet, exercise, etc.). Maybe people figure they can sit back, relax, and loosen the top button on their jeans without fear of abandonment.

One interesting detail, though, was that couples who identified as less happy actually avoided the weight gain. Subconsciously they might be trying to attract a new mate, or maybe the stress of marriage keeps them frenetic. Similar to crash dieting, this type of life is not what we recommend for healthy weight control.

If you want to actually skip the battle of the bulge the right way with your partner, here’s some food for thought.

You can start a new habit of exercising…. together. Begin with something as small as an evening walk. Then build up to finding a joint sport or activity which you can share, like tennis or golf, running, pickleball, or hitting the gym as a pair. The idea is to think beyond food, and eating, as the primary source of entertainment.

Eating out less can also keep the pounds from adding up; provided you cook healthy, balanced meals. Restaurant food is good at hiding calories. Making your own meals gives you the opportunity to limit salt and fat. But be sure to monitor portion size though or it defeats the purpose. And push away from the table and stop snacking at least an hour before bedtime. It might make the evening more romantic too if you don’t go to bed with a full stomach!

Finally, don’t drop all of your routines just because you have a partner. Stagnation is never a good thing, and it can be a hefty mistake. Sitting around too much lends itself to slowly adding relationship weight.

If you are committed to staying fit, it is possible to have a ‘healthy’ love life!

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