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Sex + Relationships

Does Love Pack on the Pounds? – What Love can do to your Waistline

We all have that friend. You know, the one who wakes up every morning at 6:30am to trade in her pillow for the less than glorious treadmill.  The girl who never overindulges at meals and whose mantra proclaims, “my body is my temple.”  She’s fit and looks fantastic.  But then, as it were, she meets this guy, falls in love with him…and with his predilection for beer and all-you-can-eat buffets.  He also likes to chill and do nothing. A lot. Naturally, your friend wants to spend as much time with him as possible, so she loosens her reins on her fitness and diet regime, which begins to slowly add more and more junk to that once tempered trunk.  Unfortunately, many girls experience this phenomenon.  Sure their relationships are thriving, but their bodies? Not so much.
Love Grows Girth
According to a 2007 study conducted by the Obesity Society, gaining weight is socially contagious, especially among people in a younger age group.  A University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill study examined women in their late teens and early twenties who dated but did not cohabitate, and average weight gain was 15 pounds during these ages. For men, it was 24 pounds.  These findings are shocking, since it presents the idea that being in a more committed relationship can influence weight gain. What causes this?  When off the market and in a comfortable relationship, girls can find working out and looking slim the least of their worries.  Some adopt the habits of their male counterparts, and others try to fit their boyfriend’s expectations of what is desirous. 

Her Campus contributing writer and Syracuse University student Heather Rinder attests to this.  She says, “I don’t know if I actually gained weight while being with my boyfriend, but I can definitely say that being around a guy makes you want to eat more.”  And who would refute that?  Guys seem to eat, eat, eat and have not a smidgen of fat to show for it.  Many girls, on the other hand, can’t hold the grub quite like guys can. Unfair much?!  The key is to not compare yourself to your boyfriend!  Heather says, “He might be able eat three burgers, but that doesn’t mean you should!  Being around someone who is eating a lot (or badly: junk food, etc.) makes you want to do the same.” 
Author and Clinical Nutritionist Natalia Rose emphasizes the importance of staying true to your personal belief system when it comes to your dietary lifestyle.  Having written on the subject of the coexistence of diverging dietary choices and serious relationships, Rose believes it boils down to self-love and respect. She says, “It is only when people enter into relationships without this self-love that they wind up accepting abuse, or anything less than love for that matter.”  This parlays into the “abuse” of the body—by changing your habits for the sake of your loved one, you are stripping yourself of your right to volition.  Many of her clients, she says, will keep a “low profile” about their dietary choices as to not offend their partners or raise their eyebrows.  It is important to respect your partner’s choices as well as what you believe is good for you.  So pass on that extra serving of fries if you wouldn’t order it otherwise!
Couples that Do Core

Sometimes, however, the opposite happens.  Many girls enter relationships and maintain their physique or become even fitter. For Her Campus co-founder Windsor Hanger, instead of letting herself go for the sake of her relationship, she uses the relationship to reinforce her personal goals and those of her boyfriend. She says, “My boyfriend Alex and I were both into working out before we started dating, but now we are even more active. We encourage each other because the fact that he is working out makes me want to work out and vice versa. While this hasn’t resulted in significant weight loss for either of us (that wasn’t our goal) we’re both in the best shape of our lives and it’s because we have this awesome positive feedback loop going.”  Windsor and her boyfriend have avoided a common trap for couples and have instead used their companionship to push each other to be healthier and more active than ever.
How To Prevent the Pudge

So how do you avoid gaining weight in a relationship?  First assess why it is that you would potentially gain weight with your boyfriend around. Is it because he makes you so happy that you stop being obsessive about your weight? If that’s the case, then maybe the weight gain is a good thing.  Is it because he puts you on cloud nine, so far up so that you lose your sense of self-discipline, self-care, and your senses all together?  If that’s the case, then you need to remember that while your boyfriend deserves attention, you indeed deserve more! Respect your body and your values before you start being guided by those of your significant other. 

It never hurts to have a few weapons up your sleeve in order to avoid the habits of your boyfriend. Heather suggests eating slower. She says, “By the time he’s done inhaling his second slice of pizza, you’ll just be finishing your first – that way you won’t be sitting there waiting for him to finish, tempted to eat another slice as well.”  Chew your food thoroughly, sip water, and engage in conversation instead of inhaling your food with him.  And remember, just because he’s eating it, doesn’t mean you have to!  Getting a salad while he opts for French fries doesn’t make you uptight or overly health-conscious; it simply means you care about what you put into you body, something your boyfriend should never have a problem with. 

With regard to exercise, make sure to take the time to go on a run or hit the gym whenever your boyfriend sits down to watch TV, take a nap, or hang out with his friends. Use your alone time to your advantage!  If you’re glued to each other’s hip, then go on a walk or run together. In fact, working out together can enhance not only your personal physique but also your relationship.  Spending more time together in a fun, energized setting will add new dimensions to your relationship. Take it from Windsor, and use the extra companionship for extra incentive to be active! 
Keeping it Together

Just like your relationship, your body requires work.  There is no reason you should become inactive and eat unhealthily just because you are in a relationship.  A hot bod is not just for when you’re single and on the market! You and your boyfriend both deserve to be the best versions of yourselves. 

Heather Rinder, Her Campus Contributing Writer
Windsor Hanger, Her Campus Co-Founder
The Obesity Society, http://www.obesity.org/
Penny Gordon-Larson, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, 2007 Study
Natalia Rose, Clinical Nutritionist, www.detoxtheworld.com

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Aylin is a senior Government concentrator at Harvard with a citation in German. An avid traveler and lover of languages, Aylin was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, although spending a lot of her childhood in Turkey and Germany. She is a self-proclaimed “foodie” — loves everything food, from home cooking to fine dining . In her sophomore year summer, she went backpacking through Western Germany, researching and writing for the “Let’s Go: Europe” travel guide. She has contributed to several on-campus publications. Her junior year summer, she interned as a production assistant for chef Bobby Flay and Alex Guarnaschelli’s Food Network shows filmed in New York City. She also interned for author and nutritionist Natalia Rose. An entrepreneur at heart, she'd ideally love to open a chain of high-end, health-minded restaurants. Her passions include piano, tennis, and dark chocolate.
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