Love ❤️ & Love Handles:  Science says there may be a link. And, 8 Ways to Shrink Them

Were you single on Valentine’s Day?

Even though it’s a made-up holiday invented merely for businesses to sell more cards, candy and flowers, it’s still hard to be home alone that night.


wedding couple

Perhaps you’ve noticed a pattern between your weight fluctuations and your romantic relationships?  Of course you have.  A bad break up or a new love can make your stomach do flip flops.  A long-term relationship that has lost its luster can send you straight into the arms of those two guys who love you no matter what… Ben & Jerry.


Scientists found a link between Marriage & Body Weight

Science has shown us that even good relationships can cause weight gain.  Is there no justice?!  In many cases, the happier you are in a relationship, the more weight you might gain.  A 2013 study of newlyweds found that over a four-year span, happily married couples gained more weight than the less happily married couples.  And, the less happy the couples were in the relationship, the more likely they were to keep the weight off.  One possible reason could be when we suspect we might be diving back into the dating pool, we want to look good to attract a new mate (or at least a few right swipes).  But when we’re happy, we’re more likely to snuggle on the couch with our SO, a bottle of cab and Netflix. No one is suggesting you stay in a bad relationship as a weight loss tool, but apparently being single does have its advantages.


On the heels of that report came similar news from a larger 10-year study of racially diverse 20-somethings in the Midwest.  The study’s goal was to examine associations between relationship status and day-to-day health behaviors like diet, physical activity and body weight.  Researchers found that compared with men who were single, dating or in committed relationships, married men were more likely to be overweight or obese.  On the positive side, the study showed that married women ate breakfast at least 5 days a week which is considered a healthy habit, while the singles ladies did not.


Finally, it’s no news flash that work can put a damper on healthy habits, like time spent at the gym. And it’s probably no surprise that having young children also puts the kibosh on exercise time. According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, married adults in general spend less time working out than unmarried adults further supporting the assumption that singles have attracting a mate top of mind.


The takeaway here is that having more “me” time when you’re single can be good for your health and good for your psyche.  While working out and staying fit may be what you think you need to do to attract a mate, take stock in the fact that you’re also taking care of yourself.  If you are in a blissful marriage and noticing some “growth” in areas you didn’t intend, talk to your partner about a strategy.


If you put on weight together, the good news is that it’s always easier to lose weight together rather than go it alone.  If only one of you put on pounds, tell your partner you would appreciate their support and encouragement in whatever efforts you take.

asian couple

Here are some tips to help shrink your Love Handles together:

  1. Take a fitness vacation. This can range anywhere from a bike tour of Italy, a retreat with a focus on workouts like Pilates, hiking tours, yoga or boot camps or even a resort that offers a wide variety of sports and activities.
  2. Share a trainer that works you out together. The thought of it may make you a little nervous (“will my partner think I’m a wuss?”) but I can tell you from experience in training couples, the time you sweat together can be really fun and sexy!
  3. Go to the gym together if your schedule allows it, and commit to a certain amount of time spent there. If you can’t go together, keep the other partner accountable and make it easy for them.  For example, one of you can prepare dinner while the other takes a Spinning class.  Or, one of you can go out for a morning run while the other gets the kids ready for school.
  4. Take up a new activity to learn it together. Ballroom dancing, tennis lessons, rock climbing, stand up paddle boarding, etc.
  5. If one of you are already good at a sport, the other partner may feel intimidated to try it. But if it’s something you want to enjoy together, encourage and support your spouse to take lessons and see if it interests them.  Be careful not to push or your attempts may have the opposite effect.
  6. Schedule workout dates instead of date nights where you hike or bike instead of doing the usual dinner and a movie.
  7. Sign up for an obstacle course race together or some other event that you have to train for like a 5K or 10K. Working towards a goal together can keep you both motivated.
  8. Remember if one or both of you are trying to lose weight, diet is 80% of the equation. Help each other eat lighter meals and more whole foods.  Keep junk food or foods that you tend to over eat out of the house.  When one of you strays, the partner will often follow.  That may be how you got here in the first place!

Jill Brown
Jill Brown
Hi, I'm JillI am a Los Angeles based Fitness + Nutrition Coach. With 20+ years of experience in teaching, training and continuing my education, I have transformed thousands of lives through fitness and healthy lifestyle changes.