The Newlywed 20

It didn’t take much effort for me to gain what I label the “newlywed 20.”

What’s that exactly?

Well, that would be the 20 pounds I packed on in my first four months of marriage. No joke.

Yep, I was one of those women who after successfully avoiding the freshman 15 in college, wasn’t so lucky after wedlock. On the bright side, I suppose, most research on this topic points to weight gain as a sign of a happy marriage. So at least those extra pounds spoke well of my new husband Ted and our relationship. They didn’t, however, get along with my pre-wedding jeans.

How did I manage to need a new wardrobe within such a short time? I contribute it to two things.

One, I started eating dinner on Ted’s schedule. He often worked late, which meant we’d eat dinner late. By the time we’d fill our plates and sit down, it was normally close to 9 p.m. This was a far cry from the habits I had in my single days. Back then, I’d eat closer to 5 p.m. – unless I was meeting Ted for dinner that evening.

It wasn’t simply eating late though that did it. It was what I ate. Which brings me to #2.

We didn’t eat salad or veggies or anything low carb. We indulged in big plates of carbonara, ham and gouda on French bread, and anything else that reminded us of our honeymoon in Paris. You see, there we’d dined in the Latin Quarter on the best Italian food I’ve ever tasted. And the breads? Don’t even get me started. We returned home with a fresh enthusiasm for these delicacies and set to work trying to imitate the wonders of Parisian kitchens.

Yeah, that’s right, mere hours before bed.

If I could borrow Doc Brown’s DeLorean for a day or two, I’d go back in time and pass on these helpful tips to my newlywed self. For some of you, these are no brainers. But for my happy newlywed self, somehow they escaped me. So, if like me, your first year or two of marriage is negatively impacting your waist line, here are a few things I wish I’d put into practice.

1. Eat Light at Night

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with eating late at night, but it’s good to be mindful of what you’re eating. Stay away from high carb meals and stick to things like grilled chicken, veggies, and salads. If you and your spouse love the equivalent of carbonara or ham and gouda on French bread, be sure to eat early. Or better yet, meet for lunch if you’re able and indulge in them then.

2. Don’t Fill Your Plate Like a Man … Even if You Are One

On those nights you do indulge in carbs, watch your portion. If you’re a woman like me, you probably don’t want to pile your plate as full as your husband’s. Especially if he happens to be 8 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier than you. And, for all you husbands reading, Ted also gained weight. Not as much as me, but our late night habits changed his standing on the scale too. So portion control matters for you too.

3. Take a Walk After Dinner

Sure, some seasons aren’t great for a walk outside, especially if you live where the wind chill is freezing. But when the weather is nice, get out and walk. Work off your dinner. Or maybe get a gym membership and exercise together. Not only will you be less likely to pack on the newlywed 20, but you’ll have a new shared activity to enjoy together.

Ted and I will soon celebrate our 12th wedding anniversary. Since I gained that newlywed 20, I have managed to lose it all. Although, it’s been replaced by what I call the “after-baby 20.” My fifth baby now being 3. But that’s an article for another day.

Photo Copyright: epokrovsky / 123RF Stock Photo


Ashleigh Slater is the author of the book, Team Us: Marriage Together (Moody Publishers). As the founder and editor of the webzine Ungrind and a regular contributor at several popular blogs and websites, she unites the power of a good story with biblical truth and practical application to encourage couples. She has 20 years of writing experience and a master’s degree in communication. Ashleigh lives in Atlanta with her husband Ted and four daughters. To learn more, visit

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