Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Love Handles

Good afternoon, everyone, and happy hump day to ya!

I was hoping to get this post up in the morning, but, once again, I was up a little later than I wanted, and decided to let myself sleep about a half-hour longer this morning.  

Our wonderful cable company, lets just call them "fail-cast," accidentally turned off our cable & Internet 3 days early last night, right as the Bulls were about to go into overtime w/ the heat, so needless to say -- we were on the phone for quite a while trying to sort that out {it is still not on, and someone's gonna hear it if I don't get to watch the AI finale tonight!}. 

Today, lets talk about love handles.  

{No, I am not talking about muffin tops, although they are an interesting phenomenon.}

I've had quite a few lovely ladies asking me lately how I handled moving in with a b.o.y. for the first time, with respect to maintaining my waistline while merging 2 different "eating styles." 

First, I must point out, that I certainly did not crack this conundrum on the first try.  

Justin & I actually kind of "lived together" for a couple of months following our senior year of college.  He was taking a summer class, and I was not in the mood to leave the greatest place on earth (also known as Bloomington, Indiana) quite yet. 

This summer-o-fun happened just shortly after we started dating.  

Combine trying-to-cram-in-every-last-slice-of-pizza college-style eating with what I'd call the "puppy love" phase of our relationship, and you gain about 10 pounds (or wait, was that me??).

I had not discovered the joys of cooking yet, my idea of a workout included winding my legs around on the elliptical for about 30 minutes, and almost every meal was seemingly washed down with an ice-cold brewski.

Recipe for disaster, but also one of the greatest summers of my life.  

I was truly the happiest I'd been in years, and the smile on my face made the love handles on my waist almost invisible to me. 

Fast forward about 1 year.  I had finished my first year of law school (yahooo!), was finally starting to take off those college lbs, and was dabbling in cooking thanks to my then-roommate, Lauren (thanks again missy!!).

Justin & I were also about to move into an apartment together, and I was determined not to regain my love handles. 

It certainly wasn't all green beans & chicken breasts at first (and, actually, it still isn't, because that would just plain STINK).  The getting settled-in meant tons of pizza, delivery, and very little nutrition.

Once the dishes were unpacked, the healthy meals did not immediately follow.

I was still pretty inexperienced with cooking, and we spent many-an-evening eating hamburger helper and sodium-packed crock pot meals.  I was also still eating most of my lunches, and many breakfasts, from a restaurant on the go.

I'd say it took me a good 6 months to really get away from the processed foods, start healthifying my recipes, and make a commitment to preparing 95% of our meals at home.  It wasn't necessarily an easy transition, but my body certainly thanked me for the effort & change.

Reflecting back on the mistakes and successes I had in combining my eating with Justin's, I have come up with some advice for you all.  Hopefully this will be helpful if you are either about to move in with your significant other, or if you are currently living with them and feel like the situation has been contributing some lingering "love handles." 

1. When you first move in, have quick, simple, meal options on hand.  Forget about running to Target to grab that shower curtain.  Get yourself to the grocery store and, at the very least, pick up some whole grain cereal or oatmeal, milk, eggs, yogurts, granola or protein bars, sandwich thins or wheat bread, natural peanut butter, lunch meat, low fat cheese, some basic sandwich-making condiments, and fresh fruit.  This will make for some quick breakfasts, lunches, and maybe even dinners as you get settled.  It might even save you a few pounds in your first week of cohabitation bliss! :) 

2. Once you are settled in, start with some very basic, simple-ingredient-packed dinner options.  As a very inexperienced cook, I started with this chicken & rice bake recipe, shared by Justin's Grandma Ted! I used whole grain rice, healthy request soup, and low fat cheese, to make it a little more waistline friendly. Also, make sure to stop off and pick up a Crock Pot, because it IS possible to make very healthy, dummie proof & delicious recipes in this wonder-invention (just watched the salt-filled soups they always want you to add!).  Try some shredded pork or chicken, and you will have meals for at least a couple of days. Another incredibly easy & healthy recipe is my Chicken Parm-a-mazing, which will surely make a beginner cook shine! ;)

Stay away from boxed meals, frozen dinners, carry out, and delivery.  These things are okay in moderation, but should not be made a habit around any household, in my opinion. 

3. Get your veggies! There are certainly nights where we have a more "manly" meal, because, you know, the quickest way to a man's heart is through his stomach! On nights where we are doing something like grilling burgers, or having a hearty lasagna, I always try to serve up a humungo side of vegetables, which I make sure to finish.  This usually fills me up so that I don't finish everything else on my plate -- and it certainly keeps me from running back for seconds. 

4. Baby steps.  If it's your significant other, not yourself, who is controlling the cooking, and he/she has a tendency to "fatten things up," start encouraging some healthy baby steps, like using EVOO instead of butter, low fat dairy instead of full fat, and whole grains.

If you don't feel comfortable telling him/her to make these changes, maybe you can suggest cooking together some nights, and you can take control of at least one healthy side to add into the mix. 

5. It's all about the portions.  If your meals are starting to look more like mac & cheese than salmon & veggies, your very best bet is to portion control.

Serve up your mac & cheese up in a smaller bowl (consider taking out some of the pasta & adding grilled chicken & broccoli!).  Cut yourself a small piece of lasagna. Take only 2 slices of that frozen pizza, instead of 3.  Eat a healthy snack, like some unsalted almonds or a bowl of Greek yogurt about 1 to 2 hours before dinner so that you are less likely to over-do it with the french fries.

Drink lots of water, be mindful, and save second helpings for special occasions. Lets face it, life would be NO FUN if every meal was fit for a skinny supermodel. I truly believe you can still have all of the foods you love, if you exercise some control and moderation.

I hope these suggestions can help some of you who are currently struggling with the merged "eating styles," and ease your fears if your anxious about what your upcoming move might do to your waistline.

If you have any personal questions on this subject, always feel free to email me at:, I'd love to hear from your & share stories! :)   

**Something to talk about: Your turn!! What suggestions do you have for newly-roommated couples?? What was the most difficult diet-related challenge you faced when you moved in with your significant other?? 

Have a great night, & cross your fingers for my cable!!! :) 




  1. Good post Jess!

    It's been great for Matt and I because I do most (if not all of the cooking) and I'll only cook healthy-ish stuff. I plan our meals for a week at a time which helps me know what I can have for breakfast and lunch that day, depending on what we are doing for dinner. It also helps my grocery list and wallet :)

  2. That is awesome!! I secretly LOVE doing all the cooking, and I am kind of glad Justin has no interest in doing it himself! ;) The best weeks are when I have it all planned out on Sunday -- makes it all so much easier!

  3. Such a great post Jess! I think many of us can relate to the situation. I tend to keep my diet pretty even but my husband goes really far one way (lots of veg) and the other (lots of dairy, pasta, meat, and wine). It's funny how even with sharing only one meal (dinner) his changing habits effect mine and the way I feel.

    I love your tips! :)

  4. Great post Jess! I am lucky because Tom loves to exercise and eat healthy dinners at home. Moving in with him has actually encouraged me to be more active and to cook more (which I'm starting to love)! The PORTIONS are what I have to watch though - I have to remind myself that I don't need as much food as he does!