How can I avoid post-wedding weight gain?

Something about living with a new husband seems to bring on the "married 15" -- an extra 15 pounds of weight gain. How to avoid this?
Something about living with a new husband seems to bring on the "married 15" -- an extra 15 pounds of weight gain. How to avoid this?
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During the months leading up to "I do," you became an exercise and nutrition devotee so you could look svelte in your wedding gown. But now that you're married, this pre-nuptial boot camp has given way to cozy evenings on the couch -- and you're blossoming into a Rubenesque version of your waifish self.

Turns out, you're not alone. Studies show married women are more than twice as likely to gain weight than their single counterparts who live alone. So, before you resign yourself to going up a dress size (or two), remember your previous triumphs over weight gain -- like the freshman 15 you avoided or overcame during college, for instance.

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Whatever the reason for your weight creep, it probably first reared its pudgy head on your honeymoon. The good news is that all the pre-wedding miles you logged on the treadmill -- and all the dumbbells you hefted at the gym -- will certainly pay off now. That's because muscle (even when it's at rest) burns more calories than fat. So with a few minor adjustments, you can kick-start your newlywed weight maintenance.

Control Honeymoon Splurges

During your honeymoon dinners, immediately box half your portion once the meal arrives, to save on calories.
During your honeymoon dinners, immediately box half your portion once the meal arrives, to save on calories.
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Like most honeymooners, you'll dine out most of the time. But before the menu arrives, make a mental note of what types of foods you'll order: Seafood (non-breaded, un-sauced), fresh fruit, roasted vegetables and leafy salads are nutritious, low-cal options.

Once your meal arrives, immediately box half your portion. Most hotel guestrooms are equipped with refrigerators, so you can eat another small meal later if you get hungry. Or, ask for a half-portion when you order. It may cost the same as a full-size order (although some restaurants offer a "lunch portion" discount any time of day), but you won't pay the high price of extra calories.

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In addition to eating well, make sure you pay back your sleep debt. In the rush leading up to your wedding and honeymoon, you probably missed a few Zs. Anything less than eight hours of sleep a night and your hormones will prompt you to eat more.

Up the weight maintenance ante by increasing your activity. Honeymoon destinations offer lots of ways to get moving, so take advantage of them. Go on a 30-minute walk each morning after breakfast, swim laps in the pool, hike nature trails, rent a bicycle built for two, take a zip line or play beach volleyball. These activities are a great way to set the tone for the new life you're beginning. Of course, you and your new husband may think of other creative ways to increase heart rate, too!

What's the best way to make a healthful transition from honeymoon to home? Hear what the experts have to say on the next page.

Continue Health Diet and Exercise Regimen

Adding a dog to the family is a great way to get exercise.
Adding a dog to the family is a great way to get exercise.
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After your honeymoon travels come to a close, consider joining a neighborhood gym, taking an exercise class or investing in home exercise equipment. Add an element of fun by enlisting your best girlfriends to go for a run or meet you for a yoga session. It's a great way to nurture friendships now that you're married. Plus, studies show exercising with a friend makes you feel better than working out alone. That's because your body releases more endorphins when you participate in a group activity and this leads to a feeling of elation. No wonder "girl time" makes us so happy.

For every 3,500 caloric units you burn, you'll keep a pound of weight at bay. Owning a dog makes that even easier, so maybe it's time to add a pet to your new family. Researchers report people whose household includes a dog get more exercise than those who live sans fur (and that includes people with gym memberships). Most dog owners walk their pets twice a day, in addition to three longer walks each week. All this footwork adds up to nearly six hours of cardio. Best of all, it's something you can do as a couple -- and that's what being married is all about. Coming up next, we've got other ways to get him on board with your healthful lifestyle.

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Get Your Spouse Involved with Diet and Exercise

To begin your culinary connection, pour a couple glasses of wine and peruse those cookbooks you surely received for wedding gifts. Bookmark a handful of recipes you'd like to try together, then divide the work -- from going to the market to mincing vegetables. Adapt full-calorie meals into waistline-friendly versions by making substitutions: yogurt for sour cream, applesauce for oil, egg whites for whole eggs.

Next, turn dessert into a fresh affair. Rather than a heavy, calorie-laden end to your meal, opt for seasonal, ripe fruit. Even if you indulge with a dollop of real whipped cream as a delectable garnish, you'll still bypass the hundreds of calories you'd pick up from more traditional desserts.

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Get healthful outside the confines of your kitchen, too. Instead of spending date night vegging in a movie theater, book a racquetball court, go for a bike ride, take a salsa dance class or hold hands on a walk through the park. Not only will you both keep your weight in check, but you'll reap other rewards. Studies indicate that by exercising together, you'll forge deeper bonds, feel less stress and have better, more frequent sex. Not too bad for a date night, right?

Wrapping your new life as newlyweds around one simple formula -- moving more and eating better -- can help you and your sweetie extend your honeymoon phase well past unpacked suitcases.

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Sources

  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. "Preventing Weight Gain." (March 2, 2011)http://www.cdc.gov/healthyweight/prevention/index.html
  • Mayo Clinic. "Healthy Recipes: A Guide to Ingredient Substitutions." (March 3, 2011)http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/healthy-recipes/NU00585
  • Medical News Today. "Getting More 'Health,' Less 'Sickness' into Marriage Vows." June 11, 2009. (March 2, 2011)http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/153471.php
  • Medical News Today. "Work Out with Friends for a Natural High." Sept. 17, 2009. (March 3, 2011)http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/164265.php
  • Nicole, Nicholes. "Workout Ideas for Couples." (March 3, 2011). SparkPeople.com.http://www.sparkpeople.com/resource/fitness_articles.asp?id=765
  • Rice, Doug. "Will Your Honeymoon Make You Fat?" Aug. 3, 2010. (March 2, 2011) BridalBodyClub.com.http://bridalbodyclub.com/will-your-honeymoon-make-you-fat
  • The Telegraph. "Average Dog Owner 'Gets More Exercise than Gym-Goers.'" Nov. 27, 2009. (March 3, 2011)http://www.telegraph.co.uk/health/dietandfitness/6666409/Average-dog-owner-gets-more-exercise-than-gym-goers.html
  • Wharton, Seth. "Workout Your Dates." (March 3, 2011) Match.com.http://www.match.com/magazine/article0.aspx?articleid=11789
  • Zelman, Kathleen. "How to Stop Gaining Weight." (March 2, 2011) MedicineNet.com.http://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=82376