Does falling in love mean falling off the health wagon? Not if we can help it! Here's how to cosy up without losing your fabulous single-girl shape
So you've met the man of your dreams. Fireworks explode, violins play, birds suddenly appear every time he is near… and everything else fades to the background, including your diet and exercise regimen.
A skipped workout here, a cosy takeaway there, and, before you know it, squeezing into your skinny jeans is a lot harder than it used to be.
It's a common story: a ten-year study of 6000 women found those who lived with men piled on more pounds than their single buddies, and that solo women get fitter over time than those who are coupled up. So we called in the experts to help solve a few common dating diet disasters.
I'D RATHER SUUGGLE THAN WORK OUT
Love-handle habit: "I've been with my boyfriend
for 18 months and we've fallen into the trap of comfy dating. A
movie night together, sometimes with pizza, is more appealing than
the gym and the kilos are creeping on."
The solution: Don't make it a fitness vs fella dilemma - have both!
Personal trainer and fitness expert Dax Moy says that shorter, sharp workouts are the key. "The truth is, 80 per cent of the time most people spend at the gym is wasted anyway; so getting a shorter, high intensity workout will yield better results and leave you plenty of time to see your other half," he says. Try interval training with cardio or weights; or squeeze in a 20-minute Power Plate session or circuit class. As Dax says, "For motivation, just think about how your fit, toned new appearance will ignite the passions when you get home!"
WE EAT OUT ALL THE TIME
Love-handle habit: "My boyfriend and I love to
go for romantic meals at restaurants. It's wonderful to feel wined
and dined, but all the lovely desserts are starting to show on my
The solution: Make eating in extra special
Remember your healthy cooking tips from your single days? Well it's time to give them a romantic upgrade, says nutritionist and health blogger Alison Duker. "Cooking from scratch is always healthier than restaurant meals, as you control what you put in each dish. Make the meals you cook at home just as special as they would be in a restaurant by creating the romantic ambience," she says.
"Eat at your dining table, decorate it with candles and flowers
and don't forget the napkins. Avoid making heavy, creamy sauces;
think about grilled fish or chicken dishes instead. Quinoa makes a
great alternative to rice, potato or pasta because it has a lower
glycaemic load and is high in protein. If possible, avoid serving
starchy carbs and load up on vegies." We say, paying your yonger
brother to be a waiter for the night could be the best $20 you've
I CAN'T STAY AWAY FROM HIS JUNK FOOD
Love-handle habit: "My boyfriend buys all kinds
of unhealthy food and when I'm home, I can't resist snacking on the
chips and biscuits he keeps in the kitchen. We both have a sweet
tooth and eat chocolates and lollies in front of the TV in the
evenings, which I'd never do on my own."
The solution: Make your own healthy treats
Having creative but healthy snacks at hand will stop you craving his diet-destroying junk food, says nutritionist Charlotte Stirling-Reed. "Look through cook books for inspiring snacks. Try some different flavours and add herbs and spices to make your healthy nibbles super-enticing," she advises. "Make your own mezze plate with a selection of olives, sun-dried tomatoes, hummus and veggie dips to boost your vitamin, mineral and anti-oxidant intakes." Who knows? They may be so tasty your man will hanker after your snacks instead!
I'M EATING MAN-SIZED PORTIONS WITH MY GUY
Love-handle habit: "My partner is into weights
so he has a huge appetite. When I spend time with him I find I eat
more often and match my portion size to his, without even
The fix: Think smaller
Less is more, says sports dietition Jane Griffin. The trick is to make yourself think you're not missing out. "Visualise your portion size before you start cooking so you don't cook too much," she advises. "Try using a smaller plate than your man, so you can both pile the food high, but you'll eat far less than he does. Eat slowly to give your brain a chance to register when you're full: put your knife and fork down between mouthfuls and have a chat while you eat,too!"
BEING HAPPY MAKES ME LAZY
Love-handle habit: "I've been with my partner
for five years and don't focus on my body and lifestyle like I did
when I was single. I often mean to go to the gym after work but
lose motivation during the day and head straight home to the
The fix: Set yourself a goal
According to sports scientist Anne Elliott, getting your fitness mojo back is easier when you have the right reason. "Most of us can get fit if we really want to - say, to attract a gorgeous guy, get into a wedding dress, or if the doctor tells us we need to - but if we're pretty much comfortable with our lives, it needs more thought," she says.
"You have to create your own reason and stick to it. You might want to look great on the beach this summer, get back into a favourite dress or sign up for a big charity challenge. It's up to you." To help things along, why not get him involved, too? Sign up to do a 5km run together, get a couple's membership at the gym or go for scenic bike rides on the weekend - you'll spur each other on and shed your cuddly bits at the same time!