Dating and Fitness: How Tackling Pandemic Weight Gain Can Improve Your Love Life in Unexpected Ways

couple exercise

You’ve probably heard of the Freshman 15, the weight that college freshman typically gain during their first year living on dorm food and late-night pizza and sub deliveries. You also might have heard of the “Relationship 20,” where couples often gain 20 pounds during the first few years of a relationship, the result of eating out and binge-watching Netflix, ice cream bowl in hand. Recently, the “Covid 19” became a trope, a nod to the weight a lot of people gained as a result of stay-at-home orders during the pandemic, which kept people home eating more and moving around less.

Without a doubt, the “Covid 19” could spell big trouble for fitting into your jeans. More significantly, it could also affect your self-confidence, whether you’re beginning to date in person again after some time off because of actual Covid-19 or are already in a relationship but look and feel different from when you first met. Regardless of why you’re looking to lose weight, whether for appearance reasons, health, or a combination of the two, I have a few tips to get rid of the pandemic pounds while improving your love life.

Lean on your partner for support.

Couples can have more success with weight loss when both partners work together to implement healthy lifestyle changes rather than one partner trying to be healthy while the other isn’t. According to a 2020 study of individuals who suffered a heart attack, those with partners who actively supported them when trying to lose weight, quit smoking, or exercise were more than twice as likely to improve in at least one of these objectives within a year. 

Tonyah Dee, a registered dietician and health and wellness coach based in Southern California, says, “If you’re looking to improve your lifestyle and you’re both willing, you and your partner can keep each other on track and be accountability partners. Go for that run, shop for groceries, and cook together. Loving partners want to see the person they care most about feel good and succeed.” 

If you find your partner isn’t interested in supporting your weight loss goals, it can be a reason to re-evaluate whether your relationship is still working for you. Alternatively, you can tell your partner how you feel about their lack of enthusiasm, potentially strengthening your bond. Not everyone is as self-aware as they think they are, which is why it’s so important in a relationship to communicate openly and often

Make exercise part of dating.

No partner to lean on just yet? No problem. When planning or collaborating about dating ideas, even with someone you just met, suggest activity dates. Dee says, “Taking a nature or city walk, going for a hike, playing tennis, or cooking dinner together are all great ways to get to know someone without having to forego your own weight loss goals. There are also many farm-to-table restaurants offering healthy options that are worth exploring.” 

How interested a new love interest is in your suggestions will also give you a birds-eye view into their lifestyle and how they prioritize their health. If you don’t like what you see and feel your interests aren’t aligned, you already have enough information to move on and find someone whose interests are. 

Work out independently.

Whether you’re in a relationship or single, working out by yourself can benefit the mind as much as the body. Everyone needs time to be alone, and working out provides a fantastic opportunity to process your thoughts while burning calories and building muscle. 

Working out solo doesn’t necessarily mean you have to be by yourself either. Even in a healthy, committed relationship, couples need alone time as well as time to engage in activities independent of their partners. Dee says, “Walking around your neighborhood, going to the gym, or attending an exercise class allows you to be social if and when you feel like it.”

An added benefit is that you never know who you’ll meet when you leave your house. This can be particularly helpful if you’re single. Not only can you meet other singles while you’re out and about, having an ever-expanding network in general can positively impact your social life. That’s because happily committed people just love to set their single friends up so they’ll be as happy as they are.

Dee also recommends implementing a daily meditation practice if you don’t already have one. Meditating every day can help keep you centered on your weight loss goals and other issues you want to work on in your life. Dee says, “Daily meditation brings us into our body and the present moment. It has a centering and grounding effect to help you clear out the cobwebs from yesterday and reset your day. It also gives you a chance to reaffirm what’s important to you.”

Do it for you.    

The moment you choose to lose weight for yourself, and not because you want to attract a new partner or keep your current partner interested, is the moment you’ll become your most attractive self. When you feel good, that positivity seeps into every aspect of your life, including your career, family, and romantic relationships.

Dee promises that you won’t have to add superfoods you don’t enjoy or lengthy workouts. “A consistent pattern of smaller meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner with the addition of daily movement and plenty of water can help you gain the energy needed to establish a healthy lifestyle that works for you.” 

She also advises to “keep it simple and share your goals with others.” Most of all, Dee says, “Be proud of yourself for every effort you make in the direction of better self-care because self-care is the foundation for any healthy weight loss program.”


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Cassie Zampa-Keim is a nationally known matchmaker, relationship coach, and online dating strategist based in Marin County, C.A. For more than three decades, Cassie has helped thousands of clients find satisfying relationships and love. Cassie has been happily married to her husband, Mike, for over 20 years. Together they share two daughters, Kaylie (20) and Lauren (17), a son, Evan (13), one dog, a bunny, and lots of laughs.