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They say that once you’re married you can let yourself go. After all, you have no one to impress anymore, right? So cancel your gym membership and happily settle into a diet of television and Twinkies.

It’s funny, yes. But it’s terrible advice. While it’s true that once you’re married you no longer need to worry about winning the affections of the opposite sex, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to stay attractive for your mate. Health considerations aside, a healthy marriage consists of two people that are continually attracted to each other, with an active sex life, and letting yourself go can adversely affect this.

Of course your mate will continue to love you. That’s not in question. But marriages take work, and part of that work involves maintaining yourself so that your mate continues to yearn for you the way they did when you first met.

Your Health Needs to Be Considered as Well

You owe it to yourself and your mate to stay in shape so that you can live a long and healthy life together. Falling out of shape and gaining considerable weight can impact your health adversely in a number of ways. Individuals that are moderately to significantly overweight are at greater risk for:

  • Type 2 Diabetes
  • Coronary Heart Disease
  • Stroke
  • High Blood Pressure
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Depression
  • Mortality from all sources

You pledged yourself “in sickness and in health”, but “health” is certainly preferable. 

So What Can You Do?

Thankfully, being in a committed pair makes getting into shape or staying in shape much easier. The hardest thing about working out or maintaining a diet is keeping up your motivation and commitment. Having someone else that’s working out with you and keeping the same diet as you makes it easier in the long term.

Because sometimes you won’t feel like working out, but your significant other will. Sometimes you’ll want to cheat your diet, but your loved one can talk you down. You have a built-in partner to keep you accountable. You have a loving friend to commiserate with when things are difficult. And you also have someone right next to you to celebrate achievements. 

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Maintaining an Optimal Diet

We should mention that this information is being presented for educational purposes only. You shouldn’t start any diet or workout plan without first talking to your doctor.

There are many diet plans that claim better than average weight loss results, but studies have shown that these claims are generally untrue. One, published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2009 randomly assigned four different diets consisting of different levels of protein, carbohydrates, fats and followed the participants for two years to see if any of the four groups had better than average results. None did.

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t choose a diet that works for you. Your choice of diet isn’t about getting miraculous results. Instead, you should choose one that you and your spouse are more likely to follow. You want to make sure it contains the sorts of foods you like to eat. And that the associated eating habits are ones you’ll be able to stick with. If you choose a diet that works with your tastes and your life you’re both far more likely to stick with it, and sticking with your diet is the only want to assure that you’ll maintain an optimal weight in the long term. Here are a few of the diets you can consider.

Atkins

This is the original high protein, high fat, low carb diet. The theory behind Atkins is that sugar, not fat, causes obesity. Therefore you’re instructed to avoid sugary foods and carbs, which are broken down into sugars by the body, and instead focus on meats, cheese, and fresh vegetables. People report good results with Atkins.

The Zone Diet

This is another high protein, low carb diet, but it differs from Atkins in that it achieves weight loss through portion control, whereas Atkins focuses more on completely restricting certain foods. People find that they lose weight faster with Atkins, whereas Zone weight loss is slower but more consistent. In the end, people lose the same amount of weight with each. The choice depends on whether you think restriction vs. portion control will work better for you and your spouse.

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The Ketogenic Diet

This is the last of the low carb diets we’ll discuss, and it’s the most restrictive of the three. It removes nearly all carbs from the diet, save for a few sources, and focuses more on high fat instead of high protein foods. The science says that eating this way severely restricts the body’s access to glucose, its normal energy source. 

To survive it must switch into ketogenesis, a mode of energy production which uses ketone bodies, instead of glucose for energy. These compounds are produced by metabolizing fat. This switch in metabolism is responsible for very rapid and robust weight loss. However, this is a drastic change for your body, and it doesn’t come without side effects. Make certain to do research before starting a keto diet.

The Mediterranean Diet

This plan isn’t nearly as restrictive as the three above, allowing you to eat a greater range of foods. But it does limit red meat, bad fats, and refined carbs. The diet prefers you focus your calories on poultry and fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, legumes, replacing butter with olive oil. Science has shown this diet to be extremely heart healthy.

Work Out Frequently, and Do it Together

Working out can be a great bonding experience if you do it together. Choose an activity that you both enjoy. You could go on runs together. You could buy matching yoga mats and practice side-by-side. You could join a gym and spot each other as you lift weights. You could hike or go on long bike rides. 

Whatever you choose, make sure you both enjoy it. If you’re doing something you both like you’re far more likely to keep doing it.

Not only will you get in shape, but you’ll also deepen your relationship and your connection to each other. Time spent together on enjoyable activities connects people and gives them time to more deeply get to know each other. Of course you already know most things there are to know about your spouse, but people are always capable of surprising you.

You’re Married. Use Each Other For Support.

Whatever plan you choose, support each other. Keeping to a diet usually requires couples to cook at home more frequently, and keep access to fresh ingredients. Try and split the load so that one of you doesn’t feel put upon to shoulder the load themselves. 

Even better, cook together! There’s a significant amount of pleasure to be found in spending time together in the kitchen. You’ll come to appreciate your food preparation time, which means you’re more likely to stick with your diet.

Remember that dieting and exercising isn’t something that bears fruit immediately. You can’t expect to lose all the weight in a week, and you can’t expect to be able to run a marathon after working out for a month.

Both of these require patience and long term commitment.  Just like marriage. In a way, dieting and staying in shape along with your spouse is a metaphor for your relationship. Great things can be yours if you’re willing to put in the work and maintain your commitment, even when things get difficult. Even when you feel like quitting. In health, as in marriage, you have to think long term, and if you do, you’ll have a long, happily married, healthy life together.

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