You’re doing everything right, yet your waist keeps expanding faster than a marshmallow in a microwave oven. Here are some of the most overlooked causes of weight gain — and how to conquer them once and for all.
The trouble might be your hormones. Hypothyroidism slows down your metabolism. If there’s trouble with your thyroid, you can’t burn calories like you used to.
PCOS or Polycycystic Ovarian Syndrome:
This accounts for unexplained weight gain in 20 percent of women. It is insulin resistance that is caused by abnormal secretion of a hormone by your ovaries.
Testosterone levels can fall in older men and postmenopausal women faster than your libido if you gain belly fat, which leads to more fat. Fat in that area converts testosterone to estrogen. Some say that is why fat single men hang out with guys and drink beer in bars – they have no libido and no aggressiveness to even try a line on a woman. But women with belly fat get libido loss too, as testosterone from their adrenals is a leading stimulator of sex drive. Less testosterone also means less muscle mass, which makes it harder to burn fat (leading to weight gain).
Testosterone can decrease as you age or if you don’t sleep at least six hours a night, leading to weight gain. The best ways to boost it naturally: Get the right amount of sleep and exercise.
Some medications can help control these problems as well as the fat that comes along with them. So if you cannot figure out what you are doing that is contributing to weight gain – and you truly aren’t eating extra – it might be worth talking to your doctor.
If your fantasy diet motto is “start slowly, then chill out,” you are on the right track. Skipping boot camp workouts and dramatic calorie slashing could get you newly-slim hips and a trim waistline by the time the next american idol is picked.
This is because severe calorie cutbacks and high-octane exercise drills put your body into a panic mode. These instinctive calorie-hoarding responses helped your prehistoric ancestors survive famines but they send you cruising for chocolate cookies and looking for excuses to skip your spin class. All because your body’s petrified of starving. So outwit it by doing these:
Never go hungry.
Just make eating small portions of high-nutrient, low-calorie foods ultra-easy. Keep a stash of good-for-you emergency foods on hand: pre-cut fruits and veggies, 100% whole-grain crackers or instant oatmeal. If you start feeling ravenous and deprived, you’ll soon be hunting for apple pie a la mode.
Solidify a “no matter what” exercise habit.
How? Begin by walking (or biking, swimming, yoga – whatever you really enjoy) for an extra 30 minutes a day. Do nothing more out of the norm for a solid month (no strength training, extra stepping – nothing, unless you do it already). By then, this easy start- up plan would have become a rock-hard habit.
Blow off steam.
Sure, going on a diet is stressful. So boost your odds of success by increasing levels of stress-busting, brain-friendly nitricoxide. How’s that? Just do a few minutes of deep, slow belly breathing every day. And start shopping for smaller belts.
3 WAYS TO MAKE WEIGHT LOSS LAST
Keeping weight off is as much about what is in your mind as about what is in your mouth. These mental strategies can get your weight where you want it and keep it there:
Make a gesture.
If you make one small move – such as buying a pedometer or throwing away the unhealthy foods in your pantry -you’ll be three times more likely to follow your plan. The small change puts a key in your waist-management ignition. Once you make a small gesture, make a second commitment. Commit to doubling your daily vegetable intake. With one foot, take a specific first step. The other foot has no choice but to follow.
Choose a range.
Instead of tracking your weight by a single number, pick your weight class – in other words, a range that’s comfortable to you. This allows for the natural fluctuations that occur (for instance, when you eat more salt, or it’s that time of month). And it keeps you from fixating on some arbitrary number that promotes the idea of all-or-nothing success or failure.
Plan to fail.
The road to success is not a straight line. Contingency plans give you the mental assurance that you will be able to adapt to unexpected crises. Know it will happen. And when it does, get right back on track, right away.
MORE REASONS TO EAT RIGHT MORE REASONS TO EAT RIGHT
No matter how you exercise, combining good nutrition with regular workouts makes your heart and lungs fitter, your bones and muscles stronger, and also lowers your risk for plus-size, elastic- waist pants. Eating right helps your body handle potentially damaging particles called free radicals that are generated when you exercise.
In a recent study, people who munched watercress daily had an easier time processing these free radicals after a session on a treadmill than those who skipped the leafy green. Leafy veggies, such as watercress, kale, spinach, and broccoli, help out because they contain flavonoids that, along with physical activity, increase your natural antioxidant defenses.
Greens aren’t the only edibles you should pair with your comfy socks and running shoes. Here’s the lowdown on three more nutrients that belong in your diet:
Strength-training with resistance bands, dumbbells, and hand weights, those fancy machines at the gym, or even moves that use your own body weight – is necessary to maintain and build muscle, as is eating enough protein – something up to one in three men and two in five women don’t do. Nuts, whole grains, fish, skinless chicken, beans, low-fat or nonfat dairy, and egg whites are all great protein sources. To build muscle (so that you burn more fat), it helps to get some protein within an hour of doing resistance exercise.
Strength-training and weight-bearing exercises such as walking, running, taking the stairs, lunges, and squats, put good stress on bones and help keep your skeleton sturdy, but from your spine to the tiniest bones in your toes, your frame also needs calcium. Half of us don’t get enough of this important mineral, and even more don’t get enough vitamin D3, which is necessary for calcium to do its work. Start with veggies, such as kale and add a supplement – especially necessary for D3 – if you’re not hitting your goals.
A sharper brain is one of the most amazing benefits of regular exercise. Moving not only encourages the growth of new cells in your noggin, it also nudges these cells to form new connections – essentially lowering your risk for cognitive decline as you age. Add great fats (especially DHA omega-3s) and good fats, such as olive oil, canola oil, walnuts, avocados, salmon and trout, to a pre- or post-exercise diet and you’ll help keep your mind younger