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Losing Weight as a Couple: Double Trouble or Twice the Determination?

WebMD Feature

If you and your honey both want to lose weight, why not join forces in the battle of the bulge? Losing weight as a couple offers some advantages, but there are also pitfalls to watch out for. Here's what you should know before you launch a weight-loss regime with your partner.

Losing Weight as a Couple: Recognize Your Differences

Losing weight as a couple, or even with a close friend, may increase your chances for success. Or it may drive a wedge between you..

"The advantages of dieting together include mutual support and inspiring one another," says Lydia Hanich, MA, psychotherapist and author of Honey, Does This Make My Butt Look Big? With better health as a mutual goal, decisions about what foods to buy and prepare and where to dine out are typically easier for couples determined to lose weight.

But even when you're on the same page about good nutrition and physical activity, you and your partner may run into differences that test the bond between you.

For example, there is bound to be a problem if one of you takes on the role of "food police," monitoring every morsel of food the other eats, And if you use your partner's lapses as an excuse to avoid sticking with your own weight loss plan, neither of you will make much progress losing weight.

Losing Weight as a Couple: Blame Mother Nature

Perhaps one of the most common drawbacks to losing weight as a couple is the result of biological differences between men and women. For heterosexual couples, comparing numbers on the bathroom scale can create frustration, for the woman in the couple, Hanich says, because it's typically easier for men to lose weight and keep it off.

"Men can eat more than women without gaining, and lose weight by cutting back less," says Cynthia Sass, MPH, MA, RD, co-author of Your Diet is Driving Me Crazy. Generally speaking, men are bigger, so they have a higher calorie budget.

Even when opposite sex diet partners are of similar stature, the male usually can lose weight without cutting as many calories as his partner. Sass says men owe their calorie-burning advantage to more muscle, which speeds metabolism.

At the same time, a woman's weight loss may not show up on the scale as quickly her male partner's. When you lose weight, some of it is water. Men have a higher concentration of water in their bodies, so they tend to shed weight faster. Pre-menopausal women are more likely to see fluctuations in weight because of monthly water-weight gain and loss, too.

So if you are a woman and your diet partner is a man, try not to get discouraged if he seems to be dropping pounds more quickly than you are. Set your own goals and stick to them, and let your partner do the same. Try to support and encourage each other without making comparisons.

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