Health & Wellness Articles

Keep the Weight Off After Saying ''I Do''

6 Ways to Avoid Heavier Ever After

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Take a trip with me to your post-wedding future, would you?

You found the perfect dress or the just-right tux. You had the big wedding and the fun reception. You spent time together on your honeymoon in total wedded bliss. And now you’re back at home enjoying the married life. You found your life partner and now you can just enjoy being married. The hard part (read: wedding planning) is over, right?

Well, maybe not. Sure, you may no longer be planning a wedding or preparing for the day when the eyeballs of everyone you know are fixed on you, but when it comes to maintaining a healthy weight, marriage seems to put people through the weight-gain ringer.

According to research from the Journal of Economics and Human Biology, the body mass index of married men increased 1.5 percent above what they would normally gain as they aged, and married women's BMI went up 2 percent compared to single men and women. Another study in Obesity, found that married couples were three times more likely to be classified as obese than singles are.

Young adults may be particularly susceptible to newlywed weight gain. Findings from a 2007 annual meeting of the Obesity Society showed that newly married women (younger than 28 years old) gained 24 pounds in five years and newly married men gained 30 pounds. Compare that to an average of 15 pounds over five years for young women and 24 pounds over five years for young men who are in relationships but don’t live together.

But what's with all this marriage weight gain? There are a number of possibilities as to why people gain weight after getting hitched, but researchers (and common sense) seem to think it has to do mainly with comfort and picking up your partner's habits, for better or for worse.

Single people have been shown to be more active and spend less time watching TV than married folks, and single people may feel more pressure to look a certain way and be thinner when they’re dating, researchers postulate. Many newlyweds, especially women, start eating like their partners, too. So instead of having a salad for dinner, they may grab pizza. Or instead of having one beer, they may have two or three, if that's the habit of their spouse.

And then there’s the power of true love, where you love your partner unconditionally—even if you both start trading your daily trips to the gym for romantic nights out. There’s even research out there that says that obesity can be contagious and "spread" depending on your family and social circle. So if you suddenly find yourself in a larger crowd, be aware that the social norm of being overweight might start affecting you.

How to Say "I Don’t" to Marriage Weight Gain
Now that you’re aware of the marriage-weight pitfalls, how do you stay at a healthy weight post-wedding? Whether you’re planning your wedding or have already said, "I do," be sure to follow these tips to avoid heavier ever after.
  1. Pay attention to portions. You may want to do everything like your partner, but when it comes to what and how much you put on your plate, always listen to your own hunger and remember: all good things in moderation! If you're unsure of what a typical portion size is (which is easy to do these days considering how big restaurant servings are!), be sure to check out these portion control pointers.
     
  2. Plan active dates together. Instead of bonding over "The Office" or watching college football for hours, plan dates that get you moving. While gym workouts can be fun, don’t just limit yourself to traditional exercise. Consider signing up for dancing lessons (if you already did this pre-wedding, consider taking a new or advanced class), going bowling, hitting the driving range or even going for a hike. Afterwards, plan to hit up a healthy local food spot for eats.
     
  3. Take time for you. Are there healthy things you did before you got married that you now don’t do? Why? While it’s important for any couple to spend quality time together, it’s also key to have some time alone to be individuals. Be sure to take time out for yourself doing something you love, be it running, journaling, reading, or even just sitting quietly. Doing things that you love helps to reduce stress and guess what that prevents? Stress eating!
     
  4. Cook together. The best way to stay trim is to always be aware of what’s in your food. And there’s no better way to do that than to cook it yourself. Sign up for a healthy cooking class or check out some low-fat cookbooks from the library. The sky is the limit as to what you can cook at home! SparkPeople has so many healthy recipes that taste just as good as their unhealthy counterparts.
     
  5. Put a limit on dining out. Now that you've combined households with your spouse, your living expenses are probably lower and your net income higher. That makes dining out more affordable for a lot of newlyweds. But restaurant food is notoriously high in calories and fat, and too much of it can expand your waistline pretty quickly. Saving some of that money isn't only smart for your financial future, but also for your health. Limit meals away from home (including lunches during the workday) to a couple times per week. If the feeling of date night is something you miss, try dinner outside, a simple picnic, or other romantic pursuits that don't always revolve around eating (an evening stroll, a movie, or a trip to the coffee house).
     
  6. Commit. You already said "I do," so be sure to love and cherish each other by taking care of yourself. Your partner wants to be with you forever, and eating right and exercising properly is the first step to making sure both of you are around for a long, happy life. And if you’re thinking of expanding your family, you might as well start being a role model sooner than later. Soon you may have little ones looking up to you!
With a little planning and thought, there’s no reason why you and your partner need to be a research statistic!

Sources:
First Comes Love, Then Comes Obesity? from Time.com
Gain a Spouse and You'll Likely Gain Some Pounds, Too from USATODAY.com
Is Marriage a Reason to Pack on the Pounds? from dailySpark.com
Is Obesity Contagious? from CBS.com

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Member Comments

  • I wonder if the studies take into account the fact that several women get pregnant within those five years after marriage. But, I do agree with several points with this article!
  • EMMAWHITEMAN
    Also stay on Spark and get your spouse on Spark! If you are both aware of the pitfalls then it is easier not to slip up!
  • I looked at these studies (not the original journal articles, but your links), and I think there are many variables in place here. There are many individual differences that people have, social contexts, the influence of others (who also have individual differences), the impact of time (historical, generational, maturational), and the interactions of these. Yes, I do think that friends or partners can have an impact, but it also depends on so many other factors, which influence each other transactionally over time, within a complex, dynamic system. I am a dorky developmental psychologist, so please excuse the rant. ;)
  • One puts things through a "wringer," not a "ringer."

About The Author

Jennipher Walters Jennipher Walters
Jenn is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomeGirls.com, FitBottomedMamas.com and FitBottomedEats.com. A certified personal trainer, health coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and is the author of The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (Random House, 2014).

See all of Jenn's articles.

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