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Holy Fatrimony!! Does Marriage Make Us Fat?

Cheating with Oscar Meyer? Loving up to Sara Lee? Read why one couple decided on divorce - for a seemingly unconventional reason!

Joyce Parker and Jeff O'Paller were married seven years when more that the proverbial itch provoked them to divorce courts. "It had nothing to do with love but everything to do with survival," sighed the 38 year old executive coach. "We became obese. When I met Joyce I weighed 165 pounds! She gained 80 pounds during our marriage and more weight after each baby!" After only seven years, matrimony became fatrimony, with the former marathon runner adding 96 pounds to his 6 foot frame. "I suffered all kinds of physical problems," he laments. "I didn't know what to do short of bariatric surgery... So then I made the toughest decision of my life: and I ended my marriage. I lost all the weight and began running again, and the best part? I met a pediatric heart surgeon and she really keeps me in line!"

Wedlock But No Bedlock?

The phenomenon of weight gain during wedlock really has some researchers frustrated and perplexed. Why, for example, is there a 6 to 10 pound weight gain in the first year of marriage than single people? The University of North Carolina studies confirm that young adults are especially vulnerable to weight gain and that this kind of weigh is "socially contagious." Any reason? "Possibly because marriage is viewed as comforting and soulful," muses Dr. Jake Palletz, a counseling psychologist in Memphis, who specializes in premarital counseling. "The family that eats together stays together. Many of my patients who come to see me before marriage are svelte and a few years later, boom! They're complaining of a dismal sex life and lethargy and voila! It's obvious their weight gain has something to do with their enervated state."

Penny Gordon-Larsen, an assistant professor of nutrition at the school of public health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill conducted research on people who became obese - more than 202 pounds over a healthy weight -- increases significantly from teens to young adulthood. Nori Belle-Canataba, a marriage and family therapist in Las Vegas voices the phenomenon "that it could be anything in the shared environment or home. When families, especially with children, eat together, they tend to finish the children's food, have seconds, or just eat congenially while everyone else eats whether they're hungry or not just because they're at the table or especially while cooking. Before they know it they've gained five pounds, then eight, then 10... it never ends until they end the compulsive eating."

Interestingly, women who cohabitated gained more weight than single women but less than married. "Of course when out in the dating world, you want to remain desirable but many maintain the attitude within marriage that my spouse will love me for who I am, but what they fail to realize is that your spouse fell in love with you for who you are and were - if you were slender, attractive to them. The difference between friends and lovers is an unalterable attraction and desire. Anything else will keep you friends," reminds Dr. Palletz. In other words, "treat your spouse with the same respect and reverence you would a dating partner. Would you come to the door with curlers in your hair and a bathrobe or unshaven and unkempt Probably not. Grant your spouse the same respect."

Keep The Weight Off - Together

"This is a perfect time to demonstrate dedication and togetherness," says Nori. Some great ideas include:

  • Walking or jogging together. "Get out of the house and get moving," says Nori.
  • Adopt a pet and walk it together. On the average, a person with a pet weighs seven pounds less than the individual who does not own one.
  • Exercise with your children. This is a terrific way to teach them healthy habits.
  • Do not believe you need to feed starving children in Africa by stuffing yourself. "You know this an old habit that dies hard," says Nori, "but do yourself a favor and kill this one."
  • See a registered dietician or physician if you've really gone overboard.
  • There's no shame in asking for help and if you really need to shed pounds and cannot do it yourself, seek help from your physician. He or she will have resources for you.

But try not to do what Joyce and Jeff did. "If there were other issues in their relationship that is another story, but what they did was tantamount to desperation," proclaims Dr. Palletz.

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