By Betsy Stephens, REDBOOK
REDBOOK's Wedding Dress Challenge can get you back to your sexy bride body. First, learn how to avoid these traps that make coupled people up to 9 pounds heavier than singles in the first place.
1. The couch. Maybe you're reading this on your sofa, curled up next to your guy, with one hand in some munchies. No one blames you - vegging together is one of love's great pleasures - but "most of the time that couples spend together is sedentary, and it often involves eating," says Jeffrey Sobal, Ph.D., a professor of nutrition at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Don't worry, losing weight doesn't have to interfere with your bonding. Just find ways you can be active together, things that don't revolve around food, suggests Sobal. Sex does count, but you need to do a bit more - bike, hike, dance, take a walk after dinner. Whatever activity you choose, aim for at least 30 minutes, three to five times a week. Here's a crazy idea: If you don't have a family dog yet, adopt one! Researchers at the University of Missouri found that people who walked a dog for 20 minutes a day, five days a week, were an average of 14 pounds slimmer at the end of the year. That's kind of amazing.
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2. Kids! First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby and an average of 3 to 10 extra pounds after giving birth. And it doesn't end when your babies turn into toddlers and tweens: Adults who live with kids of any age in the house hoover 34 more grams of fat each week than those who live without young'ins. Researchers suspect one reason is because parents are often so busy that they end up turning to high-fat convenience foods like frozen pizza or burgers. One of the best ways to combat this is to stock your fridge and cupboards each weekend with easy-to-make healthy foods, like microwavable veggies, boil-in-the-bag brown rice, and preseasoned chicken breasts or fish fillets.
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3. Family-size everything. When you were single, a bowl of cereal could pass as dinner. Men don't really go for that. You're not only eating heartier meals now, but you're also probably eating more food, period, thanks to your guy's heftier appetite. Research shows that we tend to match our dinner partners bite for bite - but that's not necessarily a bad thing, if what's on your plates is smart. One easy menu change: Increase the amount of high-fiber vegetables and reduce starchy sides like bread and pasta. That simple tweak has helped Wileeta McGee, 35, who joined REDBOOK's Wedding Dress Challenge, drop 10 pounds in just one month! And keep an eye on calories. This formula from Middleberg can help you lose about a pound a week: breakfast=300 calories; lunch=400 calories; afternoon snack=150 calories; dinner=500 calories; evening snack=150 calories.
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4. Having no time for yourself. Between work, kids, errands, and your to-do list, who can commit to a nightly 6 p.m. Pilates class? Ramona Braganza, a trainer to stars such as Kate Beckinsale and an ambassador for Gold's Gym, says you don't have to carve out loads of time to be active. "Create opportunities throughout your day to burn calories," she says. "Five minutes of exertion here and there really does add up." And you can accomplish a great fat-burning workout in as little as 20 minutes with the cardio and strength routine Braganza created for REDBOOK.
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