Is Your Relationship the Reason You Can't Lose Weight?

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Getting your partner on board with your health and fitness goals seems like a no-brainer way to win at weight loss. The problem: If he’s not as motivated as you, his health fails might derail you as well, according to new study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. [Tweet this stat!]

When it came to joint decisions, couples in which one person had high self-control and the other had low self-control seemed to default to the one with less willpower, making decisions similar to those that two people lacking self-control would make, says Hristina Dzhogleva, assistant professor of marketing at Boston College, and lead author of the paper.

The key to maintaining your health goals and a happy relationship? Understanding where you’re most compatible and where you’re likely to derail one another, says Ava Cadell, Ph.D., author of NeuroLoveology: The Power To Mindful Love & Sex

Studies show that birds of a feather do indeed flock together (and stay together), says Cadell. And in this case, that can be good or bad. Having shared interests helps you connect—activating the bonding chemical, oxytocin, Cadell says. You just want to make sure those shared interests are helping, not hurting your goals. (Ahem, if you both love to veg out to House of Cards, but also dig hitting the trails, go with the latter!) If you learn to associate healthy behaviors with fun times together, the habit will be easier to build.

Feel him dragging you down? Instead of focusing on the negative ("You need to stop buying ice cream!"), build through positive reinforcement (“It was so great when you _____. We should do more of that together.”). This can boost dopamine, the brain chemical that’s associated with pleasure and gratification, says Cadell.

And to help you stay on track together, write down the areas in your relationship where you know you’re most likely to hinder each other (he sleeps in on weekends, you like to relax at night with a glass of wine), suggests Cadell. It’s okay (and good!) to be different, but tell each other that you won’t allow these disparities to derail one another. Just because he keeps hitting snooze Saturday morning when you planned to both hit the gym doesn’t mean you have to skip your spin class. Go anyway and don’t give him a hard time about it—Dzhogleva’s research found that if the higher self-control partner stands his or her ground with a decision, this elevates the joint self-control of the pair.

What do you think about this research? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @Shape_Magazine.

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