It’s a fact: relationship bliss yields weight gain. According to a 2009 study in the journal “Obesity,” those living with a romantic partner for more than two years are more likely to be obese and live inactive lives. As couples build their lives together, priorities shift and health can sometimes be brushed aside. But there’s good news: as with the tendency to mimic your partner’s bad habits, there is equal tendency to motivate one another in the formation of new, healthy lifestyle choices – namely those that lead to weight loss.
While the do-it-yourself approach and many commercial diets have questionable success rates, getting face-to-face, personalized support from a Medifast centers’ weight control counselor has a history of success, especially when individuals do it together. Recently published research from University College London, shows that couples who get healthy together are more than three times more likely to be successful in doing so. “If one of the partners chooses to follow a healthy lifestyle it might be followed more easily by his/her partner too,” explains the study’s co-author Dr. Jane Wardle.
Brand new research published in August 2016 in the Annals of Behavioral Medicine further explores this phenomenon. Researchers wanted to look at the role of the home environment in people trying to lose weight and participating in behavioral weight loss treatment. The study concludes that social relationships have a significant role in our ability to make healthy changes and lose weight.
With encouragement and similar goals, it is easier for couples to decide how to stock the refrigerator and where to dine out. Many couples rely on eating out for both quick weekday meals and date nights on the weekend. If only one partner in the relationship is looking for the healthy option and the other is suggesting burgers and fries, it’s easy to sabotage healthy eating habits.
Having someone trustworthy to call on when struggling is instrumental to staying on track. This is even more important when that someone is also making the same changes. Partners keep each other accountable and provide encouragement when temptation strikes.
Furthermore, this supportive buddy system makes social gatherings and everyday health hurdles far less challenging. “The advantages of dieting together include mutual support and inspiring one another,” says Lydia Hanich, MA, psychotherapist and author of “Honey, Does This Make My Butt Look Big?”
Together, partners can discover new things and spend their time together differently. Breaking up the routine of sitting on the couch and watching television after a long day is good for the mind and body. For date night, couples can work together in planning evenings that don’t solely revolve around food. Instead, take a walk on the beach, go bowling or explore a new part of town.
In addition to being active, couples can take a cooking class together or learn new techniques for healthy eating. Planning meals, hitting the grocery store and spending time together in the kitchen can help couples bond over a new, common interest. Sharing a meal together or spending time preparing a meal for—or with—your partner can improve your connection and even boost attraction.
As Wardle’s study set out to prove, an individual’s lifestyle can be altered and change implemented more easily with the support of the loved one. Emphasizing the cooperative aspect of weight loss is a huge contributor to keeping individuals committed to a healthier lifestyle.