Kelly Clarkson has a new boyfriend! She's also been looking noticeably thinner lately. Turns out, it's not a coincidence. Clarkson told People magazine this week that her boyfriend , talent manager Brandon Blanstock, has motivated her to slim down and tone up.
"I have a boyfriend, and if I'm being completely honest, no one likes to be not toned when you are dating someone," she says.
We applaud Clarkson for being honest about the reasons for her weight loss, and we're glad she appears happy at her weight, but we got to thinking—how can being in a relationship affect your diet and workout motivation? Obviously, it's inspired Clarkson to lose a few pounds (though she says she constantly fluctuates 20 pounds), but can it go the other direction as well? Unfortunately, it can.
A recent study from The Ohio State University showed that women are more likely to gain weight when they get married (men are more likely to gain weight when they get divorced), and a 2009 study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill found that after studying 7,000 individuals over the course of a few years, those who were in relationships and moved in with their significant others were twice as likely to be overweight than their single peers.
While this sounds bleak, it doesn't have to signal the end of your relationship. We went to the experts to see just how relationships can change your workout and diet motivation and to get their top tips on preventing the so-called "boyfriend layer."
Why relationships lead to weight gain
There are many reasons why people might gain weight in relationships, says Jodi Perelman, a marriage and family therapist based in San Francisco. "People tend to relax some of their personal standards on appearance or change their lifestyle habits when in relationships, which could be either to a positive or negative effect."
Another key thing that tends to happen in relationships is that women shift their priorities. "Women typically want to please and care for their partners, whereas men are typically cared for by their moms or girlfriends," nutritionist Rania Batayneh says. Ultimately, this can put a lot of pressure on the woman in the relationship, which can lead to feelings of guilt or resentment, which can manifest themselves in, you got it, emotional eating.
Prevent it from happening to you
So what can you do to prevent you and your sweetie from packing on the pounds? Both experts agree that shifting the focus from food is crucial, as is communicating with your partner to ensure you're both on the same page, healthwise.
"Healthy eating and exercise are two ways to manage weight," Perelman says. "If a couple came to me, I would advise them to look at how they could support each other, such as food shopping and cooking together, or taking walks and exercising together. They can also support each other by having a positive attitude toward their goals, especially when one loses the faith. I would also recommend having fun and laughing and remembering to accept themselves and each other."
What do you think? Did you gain weight when you got married or started a new relationship?