You're familiar with the infamous freshman 15 from your college days. Gaining weight in the midst of all-you-can-eat dining halls and late-night pizza was inevitable. Well, there's another time in life when gaining 15 pounds is a looming danger to your figure: during the blissful months following your wedding day.
After spending so much time dieting and obsessing over every morsel of food to look perfect in your bridal gown, it's no surprise that you went hog wild during the honeymoon with buffets, piña coladas and never-ending dessert trays. You're not out of the woods yet. As you and your husband begin a new life together, you may be shocked to find that he still wants to live off a bachelor's diet of pizza, wings and beer. To top it all off, you've got an arsenal of culinary wedding gifts that are constantly tempting you to make homemade waffles, ice cream and bread.
Settling into a new routine can be challenging, but don't fret, newlyweds! Here are some tips and tricks to help you navigate your first year of marriage without gaining any unwanted pounds. And if you've already put on a little love weight, we'll tell you how to take it off.
Nix Noshing in Front of the TV
While many of us don't want to miss the newest episode of "The Bachelor" that's airing right in the middle of dinner, eating in front of the television is a mindless activity that you should avoid at all costs. You're likely to consume lots more calories in front of the boob tube than if you dined at the dinner table instead.
So, set your DVR to record, and join your man in the kitchen. Create a cozy atmosphere at the table by lighting a couple of candles, and enjoy your dinner while you discuss your days and catch up with each another. "The Bachelor" will be waiting on you when you're finished, and you can fast forward through the commercials!
The Scale is Your Friend, Not Your Foe
While you might detest stepping on the scale, it's incredibly important to know your weight. Studies have shown that people who weigh themselves regularly don't put on excessive pounds. If you're trying to lose weight, daily weigh-ins can be discouraging due to water changes in your body, so weigh yourself once a week or once a month instead.
Gained a pound or two? Cut back on fatty foods and rev up your exercise routine! If your goal is to lose weight, weighing yourself regularly can help you stay on track to achieving a healthier lifestyle.
Adjust the Portions on Your Plate
Beware the diameter of the dinner plates that came with your new set of everyday dishes! Big plates tempt us to fill up on larger portions of our favorite foods, like pasta and pizza. But if you learn how to portion foods on your plate, you'll see the pounds melt off. The American Institute for Cancer Research suggests that vegetables, fruits, whole grains and beans should cover about two-thirds of your plate, and fish, poultry, meat or dairy-based foods should cover one-third or less of it.
It's likely that your man has a higher metabolism and a bigger appetite than you. He may be able to devour a heartier helping of chicken tetrazzini without packing on the pounds. If this is true, don't hesitate to fix him a slightly larger portion of food when you cook a meal; men need a couple hundred more calories than women a day.
If you and your husband are meat lovers, you can still enjoy a steak every now and then, but try to choose poultry and fish over red meat. And if you're making a rich sausage and pasta dish, substitute half of the meat for vegetables.
Choose Indulgences Wisely
Don't set any weight-loss or weight-maintenance goals to rule out sweets and other junk foods. You're likely to crave that bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal you've been avoiding so badly that you end up eating three times more than usual. Definitely splurge every now and then, but pick carefully and plan ahead.
Are you going out to eat with friends at a burger joint this week? If so, make a conscious effort to cook healthy meals leading up to the double date. Popcorn and soda are tasty treats at the movie theater, but if you must indulge, forgo the extra butter and choose diet soda instead of the full-sugar options. Two spoons and a large hot fudge sundae make for a sinfully delicious combination, but sharing a nice bottle of red wine at home is better for you and just as sweet. An added bonus is sharing the bottle of wine in a bubble bath for two!
Limit How Often You Dine Out and Order Takeout
It's tempting to order a pizza after a long day at work, but if you do it too often, the pounds are likely to creep on. When you're too exhausted to cook, have quick, healthy dinner options available. Browse through Web sites and cookbooks for five-ingredient recipes featuring fish, chicken and salad entrees.
Beware the weekend temptations, too. Going out for Sunday brunch together is a fun activity when you're newlyweds, but a huge portion of peanut butter French toast isn't going to be nice to your figure in the end! Instead, opt to cook a healthier, romantic breakfast in bed consisting of whole-wheat toast, scrambled eggs and fruit.
One bonus of cutting back on eating out is saving money -- and another perk is bonding by cooking together at home. Set the mood in your kitchen with a little jazz or oldies music, whip up a couple of Tom Collins cocktails, and take turns chopping and sautéing!
Commit to Greens
We all know that we're supposed to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables a day, but this can seem like a tough goal to achieve. Bear in mind that a standard serving of fruits or vegetables is around a half a cup -- almost all of us can manage to eat a small apple and add some Romaine lettuce to a sandwich. Aim to have the color green on every plate you fix. Keep a variety of beans, kale, spinach and cabbage in the pantry or fridge; these are great additions to any meal.
When dining out, still challenge yourself to add something green to your plate. Even if your main course is a juicy hamburger, substitute a side salad for the usual sweet potato fries. Salads are the perfect side dish to fix at home, too. You can mix different nuts, fruits and cheeses in salads to keep them interesting. Mandarin oranges, almonds and feta cheese can really spruce up a bed of lettuce.
Plan Your Weekly Meals
Every weekend, find time to sit down and plan your meals for the upcoming week; this will keep you from making unhealthy eating choices when you're in a rush. Include your husband in the meal-planning process, and take him grocery shopping with you! Remember to eat before you go so you won't impulsively buy cookies or chips because you're craving them out of hunger.
Grocery shopping doesn't have to be boring. Enjoy a Saturday morning together by visiting the farmers market to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Grab a smoothie to sip while you walk up and down the aisles. Browse unique food items at a specialty grocery store, like Trader Joe's, and try something new, like a wedge of Chimay cheese. Of course, while you're there, be sure to pick up some Two Buck Chuck to pair with that cheese later!
Set a Fitness Goal
Exploring a new fitness hobby together is a great way to have fun while getting in shape. If you like being outdoors, go hiking. Or, get a gym membership so you can motivate each other to work out. Choose a time of day to exercise that's convenient for both of your schedules; it's so much easier to get to the gym consistently when your other half goes with you. Couples who are competitive by nature can register for a 10k road race and push each other to run farther and faster. Not everyone can afford a personal trainer, but if it's in your budget, hire one and train together. Whatever you do to shape up, reward each other when you achieve a specific fitness goal -- show your sweetie how proud you are!
Signing up with other couples and friends for a co-ed sports team will whip you into shape, but you'll barely notice while you're having so much fun. BYOB kickball is a definitely a blast, but maybe shoot for another sport that will burn a few more calories. Sports like softball, basketball and soccer will really get your heart rate going.
Take a Nightly Walk
Make a standing date for a walk around your neighborhood every night after you eat dinner -- even if you only have time to walk for 30 minutes. Walk for as long as you can, but just make sure you go! Enjoy the outdoors and the fresh air with your spouse, and use this time as a way to catch up and discuss the day's events and happenings.
If you get serious about power walking, invest in a pedometer and aim to walk 10,000 steps each day. Get in those steps by taking the stairs, parking your car farther away from your office and lapping the perimeter of the grocery store before you begin shopping.
Finally, don't lose sight of the big picture: taking care of yourself. Stress and anxiety can lead to fatigue, so while you're concentrating on eating right and getting enough exercise, be sure to leave time for plenty of sleep as well. Do you snack and over-eat to relieve stress? Instead of reaching for that bag of chips, focus your energy on a new project, like painting, cleaning the closet or calling a friend to catch up over the phone.
If you gain a few newlywed pounds, try not to get down on yourself; it happens! Get back on track by eating healthier, ramping up your exercise routine and perhaps looking into meditation or yoga to improve your mental well-being, too. Stay positive, and seek support from your new life partner -- he's sure to join you on your quest to live a healthier life. Besides, he still loves you just the way you are.
How can I avoid post-wedding weight gain? Visit TLC Weddings to find out how you can avoid post-wedding weight gain.
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- American Institute for Cancer Research. "The New American Plate." November 2007. (August 26, 2010). http://www.beansforhealth.org/library/NewAmericanPlate%20CancerBeans%20AICR.pdf
- Cooking Light. "5-Ingredient Pantry Recipes." (Aug. 25, 2010).http://www.cookinglight.com/food/quick-healthy/5-ingredient-pantry-recipes-00400000047368/
- Ellis, Rosemary. "Give your body a boost with more steps a day." Health on Today. June 30, 2005. (Aug. 25, 2010).http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/8369439
- Kuzemchak, Sally. "Your kitchen may be making you fat." Prevention. Jan. 17, 2010. (Aug. 31, 2010).http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/34510129/
- Savacool, Julia A. "Lose Weight by Walking!" Good Housekeeping. (Aug. 25, 2010).http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/health/fitness/lose-weight-walking-0603