When the editors of Eat This, Not That! wrote their 50 Weight Loss Questions—Answered in 5 Words or Less, the article was one of the hottest posts we've ever seen on Facebook. The Q&A that many people commented on was all too relatable for many:
Q: What's the biggest threat to my figure?
A: Getting married.
As many married couples will confirm is true, weight gain often accompanies long-term relationships; in fact, a study conducted by Southern Methodist University found that happy couples tend to gain weight after marriage. It's totally understandable, too. At first, your sweetie's knack for whipping up a dynamite batch of chocolate chip cookies was cute and fun; but over time, those small indulgences may start causing the scale to tip in the wrong direction.
Does that mean you're destined to gain 10, 20, 30 or more pounds now that you're hitched? Nope! Keep these tips in mind to keep your weight at bay—or even drop a few pounds. And hey, you might also want to avoid these 23 Foods That Ruin Date Night, too!
Sure, when you first start courting someone or are being courted, the drinks, dinners, and desserts abound. However, date night doesn't necessarily have to mean wallet-draining dinners and calorie-ridden dishes. Switch things up and cook at home together. When you cook for yourself you're better able to control portions and you know exactly what you're eating. (Psst! If you are going out to eat and you just met someone, do you know the The #1 Restaurant for a First Date?)
Recognize and Reconcile Bad Habits
If you didn't order pizza every Friday night when you were single, there's no reason you should be doing it now. While your S.O. may have a tradition of calling up Dominos when the weekend hits, it doesn't mean you need to take part. "When they're bringing their bad habits to you, I think the best thing you can do is to recognize it for yourself that you don't necessarily want that or need that," says Crandall. Chances are if you express your wish to grub on something a bit healthier, they'll compromise. If not, let them order a small pizza and you can opt for a lighter dish like a soup or salad.
Split Your Courses
If going out to eat is what you look forward to every weekend, you don't have to give it up completely—just modify your orders. Agree to share each course so that you can still order what you want without worrying about it showing up on your waist next month. Even better, this way you and your partner can have some fun together testing out new dishes and critiquing them. If ordering dessert, always split it; but avoid these 20 Restaurant Desserts With More Salt Than A Bag of Pretzels!
Order a Glass, Not the Bottle
Common sense comes into play with this one; if you order a bottle of wine, chances are you will finish the entire thing. If you order one glass of vino, you're more likely to stick to and savor that one glass. Alcohol can be a major setback when it comes to weight loss, so keeping portions under control is key.
Break Out the Mugs
Who says going out for drinks has to mean a night at the bar? "Monitoring alcohol is especially challenging because it's something you do socially, but you could just as easily be sitting down having a cup of tea or just having a conversation," says Crandall. Hit up your local coffee shop, brew your favorite tea at home or simply cuddle up on the couch for some good old fashioned one-on-one time. Having a coffee shop date? Check out these 20 Ways to Lose Weight at Any Coffee Shop.
Don't Try to Keep Up
Just because your man can polish off that entire bowl of pasta and then rally for seconds, doesn't mean you should or should even attempt to do the same. When it comes to health and weight, each person is different and responds differently to certain types and amounts of food. Stay in tune with your body and put the fork down right before you start feeling full, even if your partner is still plowing through his own plate.
Work Out Together
Check out the new CrossFit spot in town, join a local running club or just hit the weights together at the gym. When you team up, you're more likely to reach your own goals thanks to the added encouragement and accountability that come into play. Celeb trainer Mark Langowski, author of Eat This, Not That! For Abs, reveals his 7 Secrets to Instant Abs here; share it with your S.O. and schedule in some flat ab workouts!
Rebrand Date Night
Date night doesn't always have to mean making reservations, getting dolled up, and downing calorie-rich foods only to leave you feeling overly full and bloated later. "Suggest non-food date nights. It's so easy to go out for dinner, suggest something like laser tag, bowling or something along those lines where the food is not necessarily the focus. Even take some cooking classes together, which can be really fun," says Crandall.
Organize Couples' Tennis
Here's a fun idea: Team up with like-minded couples and schedule a doubles match every Sunday! Not only will you have something fun to look forward to, but getting others involved can help keep you even more accountable for your efforts. Furthermore, you and your S.O. will have fun going head to head with another duo and, as a result, you may also strengthen your relationship. If tennis isn't your thing, meet up with your favorite couple for some mini golf or a pickup game of basketball; it doesn't matter what you do, as long as you get moving. For more ideas, check out these 35 Fun Ways to Lose Weight!
Add Each Other on Fitbit
If your boo doesn't have a Fitbit already, then you've got the perfect opportunity to treat them to something that's fun, tech-forward, and healthy-habit forming. Once you're up and running (literally), the competition will take on a life of its own. Next thing you know you'll be running in circles around the dining room table to keep your honey from outstepping you.
Leave the Bag Behind
Nothing can sabotage your diet quite like a family size bag of chips showing up to the couch and taking a seat within arm's reach. Whether you're the offender or the offended, make a point of pouring out a single portion size for just you. Mindless eating often occurs in front of the television and the last thing you want when Seinfeld ends is to realize you helped bottom out that bag of Tostitos when you weren't even hungry. Swap your chips for air-popped (not microwave!) popcorn; these 20 Delicious Ways to Dress Up Popcorn are extra fun!
Agree on Certain Healthy Foods
Make a point of buying healthier snacks and keeping processed snack foods to a minimum. Go to the store with a list and agree to stick to it. "Figure out what healthy foods you both like and stock up on them. Also, discuss your personal pitfalls and avoid buying those things all together. If you're with someone who wants to be with you long term, they're thinking about your health long term hopefully and will support your efforts," says Crandall.
If you have trouble resisting that bag of gummy bears your partner loves munching on, let them know and talk about potential alternatives. "If they're eating sweets in front of you, maybe the next time you go grocery shopping let them know you found a really great recipe that looks healthy and suggest making it as a better alternative to whatever sweets have you slipping up," says Crandall. Check out this video on The #1 Way to Stop Sugar Cravings for a genius trick to shut down that sweet tooth!
Indulge Your Other Senses
Rather than bringing home cookies or muffins for your love, try treating with non-food delights. "Give each other a back massage or draw a bath for them—something that isn't food focused. Get to know each other's favorite non-food based treats that you can give to one another," says Crandall. Though the intentions are good, sometimes it can be sabotaging to regularly buy food treats for your honey.
Go to the Ice Cream Place
"Sometimes, people will buy ice cream and say it's so hard to avoid when it's in the house. Don't have it in the house to begin with and instead go out for ice cream and practice portion control there, which is okay to do every once in awhile. Having dessert in the house almost becomes routine—for example, eating some every night after dinner—and that repetition has caloric and weight consequences," says Crandall. Keep the Ben & Jerry's off of your grocery list and enjoy a sweet trip to Dairy Queen every now and then. It's much easier to stop at one cone than it is to resist digging deeper into that pint at home.
Confine the Junk Foods
If you can't keep the junk out of the house, then at least try to keep its appearance to a minimum. If your S.O. just has to have their jolly ranchers, designate a "junk drawer" to keep them stashed away and out of your line of vision. "Maybe keep those less healthy foods out of the living room and in the kitchen in a special drawer," says Crandall. Out of sight, out of mind. (Fun fact: The Google office in NYC told the Eat This, Not That! creator that hiding candy helped their employees eat 3.1 million fewer calories in just weeks! Get the scoop here.)
Forget the Doggy Bag
If you spend every Sunday night at his grandma's for dinner filling up on pasta and her famous ricotta cookies, try to avoid bringing home leftovers. Though the take-home goodies might be convenient and lessen your food prep for the week ahead, they'll also take the place of healthier items you could and should be eating to stay on track with your weight goals. Enjoy the meal as it happens, but politely decline the take-home bag. And then employ this brilliant list of tips, instead: Meal Prep Sunday: 25 Tips to Cook Once, Eat for a Week
Get Busy in the Bedroom
Yes, we are actually telling you to have more sex! Getting physical with your partner is not only a fun, non-food based activity, but it can also get your heart rate elevated and enhance your overall health, happiness, and physical fitness to a degree. But let's be honest—do you even need any more reason to spend extra time between the sheets? Didn't think so.
Don't Socialize on an Empty Stomach
Just as some people say not to going to the grocery store hungry, it's also a good idea to avoid heading to events on an empty stomach. "Try not to go hungry to any pubs or social events, and prepare yourself for them by thinking ahead of time about what you should be eating and not necessarily what you want to eat. If you are picking what you want to eat definitely try to modify your portions," says Crandall. Oh and don't choose these 25 Foods That Make You Hungrier when you do finally eat!
Time and time again you'll hear that communication is key to a successful and healthy relationship, and that especially rings true when it comes to reaching personal goals such as losing weight. "I always tell my clients to focus on what they can do instead of what they can't do. If you are in a committed relationship that may mean talking to your partner about how they can support you in your activity—whether that means going with you on a hike, a bike ride, a jog, or whatever your preference," says Crandall. Follow these 25 Weight Loss Mantras Nutritionists Swear By to find a few rules that both you and your sweetie can get behind!
Don't Get Comfortable
You worked hard to look good for your wedding day, but now you'd rather spend some nights snuggling on the couch. Totally understandable—but all that lounging leads to mindless snacking, which then leads to weight gain. Instead, limit your cuddle time on the couch to an hour and fill the rest of the time with hobbies or other activities that allow you to be together.
Communicate Your Goals
Weight loss when you're married should be a partner activity. Tell your spouse exactly what you're hoping to do—like lose 10 pounds, eliminate belly fat—and then explain how you plan to do it. Many times disagreements in marriage come from miscommunication, so being clear about your goals upfront can keep that from happening. If your partner isn't on board, maybe you can entice him or her with these 35 Fun Ways to Lose Weight. Who doesn't love a color run?
Be Each Other's Biggest Cheerleader
It's so much easier to achieve a goal when you feel supported, especially when that supporter is your spouse. Always encourage healthy eating and exercise with kind, supportive words. And if motivation is slipping? Remind each other how important your goals are and how you're willing to do whatever it takes to help achieve them.
Disagreements in marriage are inevitable; but there's a big difference between constructive criticism and criticizing, especially when it comes to weight loss. It's fine to gently nudge your spouse if you see him slipping on his goals, but don't nitpick or focus on the negative with body shaming comments. There's a saying: "pick wisely, treat kindly." You already picked wisely by picking your partner, now treat them kindly.
Make Meal Planning a Couple's Thing
Work, family, and life responsibilities make it easy to pick up fast food on the way home—who has time to cook? You have to, especially if you want to lose weight. Make meal planning and preparation a thing you do with your spouse every week. Just like you have to budget together to be successful as a couple, you have to plan meals together in order to be healthy as a couple. Don't know where to start or feel intimidated by trying to figure it out? We've got your back. Check out Your (Realistic) Flat-Belly Meal Plan for a Healthy Week (and send the link to your partner)!
Find Activities You Can Do Together
Working out together is an easy way to strengthen your bond and burn fat at the same time. You may have different goals—he wants to build muscle, you want to lose belly fat—but that doesn't mean you can't pick activities that achieve both goals, like HIIT workouts or even as simple as bike riding. That's not to say you can't have your own workouts, too, but doing it together as a team makes goals seem within reach.
Find a Happy Medium With Diets
Couples don't often have the same appetites—men often want to eat more, while women tend to eat less. This can lead to "mirroring" where you end up eating the same types of meals—and same amounts—as your spouse. This can easily lead to eating more calories than you burn in a day, leading to weight gain. You don't have to make completely separate meals; instead, watch portions.
Keep Cheat Meals to Date Nights
Just like with lounging and snacking, it's tempting to indulge with restaurant meals once you're married. Date nights, right? Unfortunately, those high-fat, high-calorie meals—complete with wine and beer—can easily pack on pounds before you know it. Instead, follow the 80/20 rule: Cook 80 percent of your meals at home with your plan, the other 20 percent can be your date nights where you "cheat" a little. And when you do have a cheat meal, follow these 20 Cheat Meal Tips for Weight Loss Success.
Focus on the Health Aspect
We all want to look good, but weight loss isn't always about fitting into a pair of pants. Keeping your weight at a healthy level is essential to staying healthy throughout your marriage—and living longer. In addition, starting a family is easier at a healthy weight, giving you more incentive to lose.
Look at It As a Lifestyle, Not a Quick Fix
Losing weight for the wedding is a sprint, but to lose weight—and keep it off—means you have to be committed to your goals in the long term. Adhere to healthy practices with food and exercises—and make sure you know these 17 Reasons Why You're Regaining Weight—and you'll be happy with your long-term loss instead of the ups-and-downs that come with crash diets.