Falling in love can make you feel all soft and gooey inside. Unfortunately, it can have the same effect on your outside. Skip a workout here, order some greasy takeout there, and before you know it... you've got a full-on jelly roll hanging over your waistband. Or as Lauren Conrad, former star of "The Hills," put it: You've acquired the dreaded "boyfriend layer."
"When we get comfortable in a relationship, we establish new habits together that aren't always the best for our weight," says Amy Gorin, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Connecticut.
But worry not! The Women's Health crew has identified five of the behaviors that contribute to the "boyfriend layer" and included helpful fixes.
Because I care about you all, I shall share a few:
Behavior: You eat out ... all the time
When you're single, you tend to prepare healthy foods at home. But once you're in a relationship, it's decadent dinner dates followed by caloric brunches.
The fix: Eat in
That is so rocket-sciency! I'm so amazed by that fix, that I will refrain from commenting on the classism evident in the description of the "behavior." And I won't even bring up how you'd think people at "Women's Health" would recognize this might create more work for women, who still do the disproportionate share of domestic tasks like cooking.*
Then, there's this one:
Behavior: His snacks are your snacks
You might not buy chips for yourself, but when he leaves the bag out on the coffee table, you need supreme willpower to ignore it.
The fix: You have two diet-friendly choices: Serve yourself a small amount of his snack and put it on a plate (dipping your hand into the bag over and over again leads to diet disaster), or... have a portion-controlled, lower-calorie alternative on hand to munch while he takes down that bag of chips or pint of ice cream.
Oh, look. Virtual product placement for the diet-industry foods that already target women and symbolize the pressures to be thin! He can enjoy his snacks; you can agonize over yours. Maybe this is what Gwen meant by the gendering of dieting? She writes
we gender who we think cares about the caloric or nutritional content of food in the first place, and we gender why we think they care about it if they do.
I'm going to go ahead and skip to the fifth behavior they identify, and on this point, I'm feeling decidely less snarky. Why?
Because the fifth behavior is being happy:
Behavior: You're Happy
Research shows that what's good for your heart may be bad for your hips. A study published last year in the journal BioPsychoSocial Medicine found that happy people were less likely to succeed at losing weight than those with a "slightly negative and cautious outlook."
The fix: Weigh in often
These people are really worried that part of being happy might be learning to love and be comfortable with yourself as you are. I know it's unfathomable that fat women can be happy, but damn. The fix is so chilling--weigh in often so you can see if those numbers go up, thus creating anxiety and unhappiness, jarring you out of your happy "complacency."
The whole tone of this article is like that. These people are positing that falling in love and being happy are things of which you should be wary in case they lead you to the horror of being fat. Just think about that for a minute. Your negative and cautious outlook might be... well, negative, but you have a better chance of being thin. Hooray!
As for women partnered with women, I can't decide if the writers are saying you're not "at risk" or you don't exist.
*I'm not saying that you should eat out all the time, but I'll bet it's commonplace that couples' determinations to eat at home more creates more work for women.
Link to a description of a study I'm thinking about using in a fall class on the Construction of Femininity that posits "women observed eating with a male companion chose foods of significantly lower caloric value than those observed eating with another woman." Description of it here. For me, there's something about the juxtaposition of this study and the Women's Health article.