By Jennipher Walters, for SparkPeople
Dating isn't easy. In the beginning stages, deciding what to wear, where to go, and whether you should or shouldn't kiss can be stressful. Then, once you start to get more serious, you have big decisions to make, such as whether to be exclusive, to live together, or to get married. With so much to think about, your healthy lifestyle is probably the last thing on your mind.
Well, it shouldn't be. According to research from the journal Obesity, dating and cohabiting can lead to weight gain. The 2009 study looked at 1,293 dating, cohabiting and married romantic couples, and found that over five years, women who were dating put on an average of 15 pounds, and those living with a romantic partner gained 18 pounds. Men also have an increased risk of becoming obese as they stay in a relationship, but not nearly as much as women.
Researchers say that when you find someone who you really like, you start spending more time with them and therefore adopt some of their less-than-healthy behaviors. Or you cut back on your usual workout time to spend time with your sweetie.
But you don't have to be a statistic! Follow these five tips below to enjoy falling in love-without falling off the healthy living wagon.
Plan Active Dates
If your usual date night consists of dinner and a movie, it's time to get moving! Active dates such as ice skating, hiking, running, laser tag, bowling and dancing give you the opportunity to burn some calories and get to know your loved one much more than you can watching the big screen. In fact, you can even have a date at the gym: grab two side-by-side ellipticals and chat each other up. Or, take turns spotting each other while you lift weights. After all, couples that work out together stay together.
Be Mindful of Portions
When you're going on a lot of dates, it's easy to get wrapped up in conversation and not notice how much you're eating. You might even order foods you normally wouldn't choose off a menu, such as heavy appetizers or decadent desserts. When the date of your dreams asks you out for ice cream, it's hard to say no, right? So instead of saying no to certain foods, think small. When you're out, be sure to put your fork down between bites, order healthy foods whenever possible, and remember to listen to your hunger signals. Your date won't be offended if you don't finish every bite on your plate, and you'll feel much better leaving the restaurant pleasantly filled instead of stuffed!
Watch What You're Drinking
Dating seems to revolve around food and drink. Want to meet for a cocktail? Grab a latte? Have a nightcap? The problem with this type of date is that you can easily consume hundreds of calories (especially if you're nervous and think that glass of wine will calm you down) without even feeling full or being out for very long. Be just as careful about what you sip as what you eat. If you're a drinker, limit yourself to one or two alcoholic drinks,or go for low-calorie non-alcoholic options such as sparkling water, black coffee, or unsweetened ice tea. I don't know about you, but I'd much rather chew my calories (usually on a few bites of dessert) than drink them!
Have a Romantic Evening at Home
Dining out can be hard on your wallet and your waistline. Save some cash and some calories by eating at home. Find a healthy recipe together, go to the grocery store to pick up the ingredients (grocery shopping together is a fun way to bond and make everyday errands more enjoyable), and then spend the night making a good-for-you dinner. If you're not known for your cooking skills, throw together an easy salad, so that if you do accidentally burn dinner, you have a back-up plan. Then, spend the night chopping, cooking and spending time together. Once dinner is ready, light some candles, turn on some music and enjoy your romantic evening in.
Don't Forget "Me" Time
When you're falling in love and consumed by a new relationship, it's easy to want to spend every free minute with your honey. Just remember to give yourself some "me" time. Whether it's hitting the gym, going to an exercise class, heading out for a walk or doing a yoga DVD at home, take at least a few minutes of every day to do something good for you. If you really have a keeper, he or she will understand how important this time is to you and your relationship.
Follow these tips, and you will find yourself not only happy in love-but in health, too!
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