(ARA) - For many, the stress and whirlwind of wedding planning can get crazy. And it often leads to brides and grooms crash dieting in order to fit into their dress and tux. But once the big day and honeymoon are over, newlyweds are prone to gaining back the pounds they lost before the wedding and then some. But it doesn't have to be this way. Whether a couple has just tied the knot or has been together for years, studies show that losing weight and gaining a healthy lifestyle are much easier to do with a partner by your side.

While it's true that many factors play a role in determining body weight, so does a shared living environment. Several recent studies have shown that people who live together, particularly spouses, tend to have similar Body Mass Indexes (BMIs), and if that shared environment is conducive to weight gain, there is also an increased risk of obesity.

That's what happened to Bob and Cindy Mossey. Now in their 50's, the Mosseys got married, settled into a comfortable lifestyle and both gradually gained weight over the years as work, children and family dominated their schedules.

"Snuggling on the couch with Cindy and a pint of ice cream was really cozy, but it didn't do anything for our waistlines," says Bob.

The good news is there is also evidence that couples who join forces to lose weight are more successful than those who go it alone. Researchers in Australia found that couples who followed a healthy living program together lost more weight, exercised more and reduced their cholesterol levels. Most importantly, one year after the program ended, the couples had maintained their weight loss and improved their overall health.

"Couples working together to lose weight and keep it off encourage each other's progress and help each other through weight-loss challenges," says Karen Miller-Kovach, chief scientific officer at Weight Watchers International. "That improves the odds for success and better health."

Miller-Kovach and the experts at Weight Watchers offer some tips on how couples can motivate each other to become fit and healthy.

* Instead of indulging your spouse, focus on truly taking care of each other. Walk or bike to the park with a picnic basket filled with healthy goodies. Take a low-fat cooking class together or enroll in dance classes.

* Dinner and a movie is a favorite date night activity. Split a main course at the restaurant and cut calories in half. Don't snack on high calorie foods during the movie. If you must eat, bring healthier snacks from home.

* Once you've agreed on a healthy eating plan as a couple, be considerate. If one person's plan allows for a certain food that's off limits to the other, be respectful of each others food plans and goals. Also, unless you've agreed to keep track of what your "better half" is eating, hovering and scolding can cause more harm than good.

* Share, but don't compare. Keep each other posted on weight loss successes, but keep in mind that men and women lose weight differently so don't compare apples to oranges.

* Seek outside help. Plans like Weight Watchers Online--used by Cindy Mossey--and Weight Watchers Online for Men--used by Bob Mossey--provide tips, tools and recipes that can help you lose weight and keep it off. Following the plan and getting support from each other helped Bob lose 28 pounds and Cindy lose 20 pounds.

"We couldn't have done it without Weight Watchers, but most importantly, we couldn't have done it without each other," says Bob.

For more weight-loss tips and further information, visit www.WeightWatchers.com.

Courtesy of ARAcontent