Does marriage equal wedded bliss… or a ballooning waistline? For many couples, it’s both. The extra weight can creep up in an insidiously gradual way, too. A few pounds here or there isn’t overly concerning over the course of a few months, after all, and easy enough to lose, we often tell ourselves. We’ll get around to it. Riiiiight.
A Change of Routine
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to cocoon ourselves in the comfortable, easy routine that we’ve settled into with our new spouse like a nice, warm blanket… ignoring the fact that the months are quickly turning into years… ignoring the fact that our previous healthy routine of farmers market visits and trips to the gym has been been replaced by a less-than-healthy routine of greasy takeout meals and nights spent couch surfing with our spouse… and ignoring the fact that our wardrobe choices are now restricted to pants with elastic waistbands and shirts big enough to hide our ever-expanding midsection.
How Could This Happen to ME?
There are a multitude of potential reasons for the weight gain that tends to happen to many couples after marriage. Some believe that fitness- and diet-related self-care tends to fall to the wayside in the wake of the increased responsibilities and stresses involved in raising a family. Some say that being in a happy, satisfied relationship may cause us to de-prioritize the importance of maintaining our physical appearance, since we are no longer engaged in the process of actively trying to attract a mate.
No Laughing Matter
However, the reasons behind the ballooning waistline phenomenon are probably less important to us than the real question: What do we do about it? This is truly no laughing matter, since a larger-than-average waist-to-hip ratio is linked to increased health risks for both men and women, as is obesity. We all want our happily-ever-after to last into healthy, happy old age, but that ballooning waistline may have other ideas. And besides that, although they say that love is blind, there is probably at least some tiny part of us that wants to be just as physically attractive to our partner now as we were the day they met us.
You Already Know How to Do This
So what do we do about it? Contrary to what you might be thinking, the question of HOW to counteract weight gain—the actual process of going about whittling our waistline—isn’t the issue here at all. We all know at least the basic concepts behind weight management and fat reduction, and there are a million proven healthy diet and exercise programs out there for you to choose from.
Establish a New Normal
The real trick to achieving lasting success, though, is being able to stick to whatever change you’ve chosen to implement. This means embracing the change as a lifestyle, rather than as some temporary period of suffering that you’ve decided to slog through until that magical moment when you achieve your weight goal and can go back to your “normal life.” Because that so-called normal life was what caused you to pack on the pounds to start with, and going BACK to it is likely to do the same! Making new behaviors into permanent lifestyle changes is really the step where most people falter, not just when it comes to embracing healthy eating and maintaining an active fitness level, but when it comes to making any major change in life.
Change Your Routine… Again
Habits are powerful things, and, perhaps especially when it comes to diet and exercise, behaviors that have been repeated until they’ve solidified into habits reign supreme. This fact may seem to be to your disadvantage when you’re trying to change a behavior that’s already been habituated into your daily routine, but it’s a concept that can be used to your advantage in the long run, because at any moment in time, you always have the option of creating and adopting a more preferable habit.
Can’t Get No Satisfaction
Spend some time thinking about the habits you want to change (like your nightly couch potato act, perhaps). Now think about a new, more preferable behavior that you might be able to replace that old habit with that would still give you the kind of satisfaction that you have come to expect from the original behavior. Our habitual behaviors tend to satisfy specific needs, such as the need for relaxation, indulgence, or socialization, for example. Drastic changes tend to fail because they don’t address the relevant needs at play, so there’s a part of us that’s left unsatisfied and continues to demand attention until it finally gets what it wants.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
When you’ve decided what you want to change and are considering preferable alternatives, remember to implement behavior changes incrementally, at the pace that feels comfortable to you. Any tiny change in the right direction that you are able to make a part of your lifestyle forever is a million times more valuable to you than the drastic change that you give up on in frustration after a few weeks.
Instead of sitting on the couch and watching TV to relax at the end of long day, for instance (an environment that tends to be a strong snacking trigger for many people, in addition to encouraging inactivity), maybe you decide that it might satisfy your need for relaxation just as well to do some journaling in a diary, or some singing and be-bopping along to your favorite music in your bedroom, or even some sitting out on the front porch swing cuddling with your spouse while the sun goes down.
Two Peas in a Pod
Enlist the cooperation of your spouse in this effort if possible. Your partner in waistline crime can also be your strongest source of social support in making lifestyle changes. And since your lifestyles are, to some degree, indelibly linked as a married couple, whenever one of you makes lifestyle changes, it will have an impact on the other’s lifestyle, regardless. So be like two healthy peas in a pod. Motivate each other. Cheer each other on. Rock that whole marriage thing, and let your new healthy habits propel you into a long, happy life together.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Trish Alderman