By Caroline Tiger
Who knew that saying "I Do" meant agreeing to buy bigger jeans? It's called the "newlywed spread," and it affects a majority of married couples. In fact, according to a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill study the average newly married woman piles on about nine extra pounds over five years compared with a single woman. Here, how to get you and your hubby back on track to a happy, healthier life together.
Related: What Causes Post-Wedding Weight Gain
Get back on track by planning your meals with your husband and shopping for the week on Sunday, Cheryl Forberg, RD, nutritionist for The Biggest Loser and author of the cookbook Flavor First suggests. You'll end up eating much more healthfully with some advance prep than you will if you get home from work and have to ask each other, "What's for dinner?" Find a few easy, healthy go-to recipes that you both like and keep the pantry stocked with ingredients for those meals so you can whip them up quickly.
Keep Tabs on Eating Out
Be mindful of how often you eat out. "Make your time together revolve around activity instead of food," says Jennifer Cohen, personal trainer for the show Shedding for the Wedding on the CW. Alternate picking a new skill or activity: Your husband signs you both up for golf lessons one month; you arrange dance lessons the next. "You'll bond over these adventures," Cohen says. "They'll help keep the attraction alive, because fitness boosts your sex life, self-esteem, and energy."
Prioritize Your "Me" Time
Don't feel guilty about staking out your workout time. "It's okay to prioritize your own exercise and healthy eating even if he doesn't," says Michelle Gannon, PhD, a psychologist and the founder of Marriage Prep 101 workshops in San Francisco. "Your relationship will be more successful and happy if you are personally happy."
Schedule your workouts on your calendar just like you would any other appointment. Establish a Friday-evening or Saturday-morning exercise habit to help keep you honest. "It's often hardest to stay disciplined on Saturday and Sunday," Forberg says. "If you work out early in the weekend, you won't be as tempted to eat the chips your husband keeps in the pantry. You won't want to waste that hard work."
Focus on Your Own Progress
Don't be swayed by your guy's bad habits. If he's a chubby hubby, that doesn't mean you have to be his fitness coach or cheerleader. "The best way to motivate your partner is to lead by example," Cohen says. Your couch potato may come around once he sees the positive effect that exercise and eating well have on your energy level, mood, and body.
Even if you can't enlist your husband in your healthy efforts, ask him to help keep you in check. Because I have no willpower around sweets and I'm allergic to nuts, I ask my husband to buy only nutty treats. Forberg told her significant other not to bring ice cream home. "He learned that if he did, I would eat it all," she says. "Now we don't keep it in the house."
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By Caroline Tiger