For me, my weight has always been a bit of a challenge. Having a childhood nickname of “Buddha Baby” should kind of explain it it all, but, in essence, I’ve always loved food…and struggled with keeping a trim figure as a result. By no means am I overweight, but I can’t help but notice those few pesky extra pounds when I look in the mirror or slip on my skinny jeans. That extra cookie definitely settles in around my waist, and I sense that loaf of cheesy garlic bread clumping up under my belly button. Scoops of ice cream dangle from my biceps and chocolate bars collect around my thighs.
Sadly, I am what I eat.
Interestingly enough, though, is that fact that I always seems to pack on a few extra pounds when I happily in a relationship. It’s a phenomenon that has always fascinated me, and an occurrence that I’ve always hoped was universal. I mean, I can’t possibly be alone in weight gain when in enamored. I mean, they have to be called “love handles” for a reason, right?
In fact, one study presented in 2007 at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society found that women (particularly younger women) who were dating gained an average of 15 pounds over five years, while women who were living with their partners gained an average of 18 pounds. Even worse? Newly married women gained an average of 24 pounds in that same five year period. For men, the weight gain was roughly the same, but there was no real difference between cohabiting and marriage.
Now THAT’S some food for thought.
But what is even more interesting are the various reasons why we gain weight when in a relationship.
Studies have shown that weight is socially influenced, meaning that one person’s obesity can significantly increase the chance that his or her friends, siblings and spouse will also become heavy. Conversely, if a person slims down, the people around him or her also may lose weight. So, if you’re partner’s heavy, you may have to be extra careful to not pack on those pounds, too. Luckily, it also means that losing weight together has a high chance of being successful. The television show Biggest Losers: Couples was on to something, huh?
For me, though, I tend to find that I gain weight while in a happy relationship because dating is social and, therefore, tough on a diet. You go out to dinner and drinks when dating, and no one wants to be the fussy girl just ordering a garden salad with salmon and a glass of water. Plus, you may start eating out more often than normal or, even worse, start mirroring your partner’s eating habits. Personally, this is always the toughest part. Suddenly, after seeing him scarf down a sandwich that has meat, cheese, french fries, and cole slaw in it, I start to think it’s okay to do that same (and, yes, that’s a true story; that sandwich exists…and it’s DIVINE). You start upping your portions to match theirs. You sneak in more of their “guilty pleasure” foods, too.
It’s a slippery butter-and-beer-greased slope.
I also find that, when truly happy in a relationship, I start to feel a bit less pressure to keep that six-pack of abs going strong. Now, I certainly don’t let myself go, lounging on the sofa all day unshowered and in stained sweatpants eating fists full of Doritos and watching Golden Girls reruns. But, skipping the gym starts to become more appealing when I have a man nailed down and an option of a movie night is out there for the taking. Plus, he loves me for me, right?
That’s just the point. Your partner fell for YOU…not the 20 pound heavier and whole lot less healthy version of you. So, keep it together, Sally, and don’t slack off. Sure, becoming a little more relaxed is perfectly fine. Just don’t become another one of these scary statistics. Fifteen pounds heavier just because I’m in a relationship? Not for THIS chica.
So, what’s a girl to do?
Communicate. Let you partner know what your eating habits and weight goals are. Have them keep you accountable, and encourage each other to be honest when things might start going a bit south in the Love Handles department.
Be active together. Go kayaking together. Take in a romantic yet challenging hike on the weekend. Try out that boxing class as a couple. Heck, why not even try going to the gym together, even. Make keeping fit and healthy a part of your routine together, and you’ll both reap the rewards.
Cook together. Maybe those constant meals out aren’t the wisest idea…on our waist OR your wallet. So, try some healthy but tasty recipes together. Cooking together is incredibly sexy, too, so you get double points for this one!
Don’t be too hard on yourself…or your partner. Weight gain will happen to you or your partner. So, don’t be a nag, and don’t judge. Take this change as a challenge to straighten yourself out and commit to it. And, even when you are straightened out, you’ll slip up from time to time. Don’t become a crazy weight-obsessed version of yourself. Just move on…and keep moving!