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How to Avoid the Top 5 Weight Gain Traps!

Jogging to avoid weight gain

Photo by Ernst Moeksis

Did you know that the average American gains 1 to 1 1/2 pounds per year after age 25? Do the math. That’s about 10-15 pounds per decade.

Looks aside, the real problem is the rising risk to your health. Things like diabetes, heart disease, cancer, and many more ailments are directly linked to obesity. Even though this may seem like depressing information, it’s really not. All we have to do is flip it on its head to realize the exciting potential in this equation.

If obesity equals disease, then maintaining a normal weight equals good health! That’s something to get excited about and here’s why: You have the power to control your weight! The average weight gain occurs to people who are not paying attention. If you start paying attention and taking small action steps to establish good habits, you will be able to maintain a healthy weight for your entire life! And most likely it will be a healthy long life too!

The Top 5 Weight Gain Traps and How to Avoid Them!

1. Not Moving Your Body Enough. How does this happen? Easy. It’s called desk job, long work hours, no breaks, TV watching, automobiles, and all the other trappings of modern life that keep us from moving our bodies like were designed to do.

The Solution: The simplest and most effective thing you can do is make a commitment to exercise 30 minutes every day, rain or shine (or snow!). Anything that will get your body moving and your heart rate elevated will do the trick. Walking, running, biking, swimming, and even dancing are great examples. Pick something you enjoy. Remember to check with your doctor whenever starting a new exercise regimen.

2. Not Enough Sleep. There have been several studies recently that point to the serious health risks associated with chronic sleep deprivation, including weight gain! We work too many hours, we engage in too many activities, and how do we fit it all in? We just sleep less. If you think you can handle being tired, think again! Your body is paying a greater price than just feeling like a zombie. Not getting enough sleep will cause your body to pack on weight.

The Solution: Just like exercise, make sleep a top priority in your life. Aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. If you feel good upon waking that’s the right amount for you. If you are dragging through the day you probably need a little more. Some tactics to help make this work:

  • Reduce or eliminate caffeine after 2pm as caffeine remains active in your system for 9 hours.
  • Try to cut back on work time. By shaving 30 minutes per day you could be adding that to your sleep time instead.
  • Cut out unnecessary obligations. Only attend events and activities that you really enjoy.
  • Establish a bedtime ritual. 30-60 minutes before sleep time each night do things that help you wind down such as reading, meditating, listening to music, etc. Avoid TV during this time if you can because TV is a stimulant.


3. A Few Too Many Calories
. This is where the pounds creep up on us. You don’t have to be pigging out on a daily basis for this too happen. Suppose you eat 100 extra calories per day than what your body burns. If you do this for 35 days straight, you will have gained one pound. Unfortunately, over eating by 100 calories per day is an easy thing to do. So, are we doomed to counting calories? No!

The Solution
: Here are a few strategies that will help you eat right amount of calories on average which is all you need to do to maintain a healthy weight:

  • Commit to making healthy food choices as often as possible. Fruit should be your snack of choice 90% of the time. Fruit smoothies are excellent for breakfast. At lunch and dinner be sure to include twice as many veggies as the main course. Learn to love your fruits and veggies. They equal pure life!
  • Don’t let yourself get too hungry. When you do, that’s when overeating and poor food choices occur.
  • When eating high fat or rich foods, be sure to eat slowly.
  • Eat only until you are satisfied, not stuffed. Eating slowly will help ensure that you can hear your body’s satiation signals.
  • Drink water or lemon water instead of juices and sodas.
  • Don’t underestimate this change. It takes real mental commitment, but you will be amazed at how the more fruits and vegetables you eat, the less you will crave junk food.


4. Chronic Stress
. Stress is part of life, but too much stress and poor reactions to stress are what cause problems. Chronic stress causes excess production of a hormone called cortisol. This hormone is designed to boost energy levels during times of need, but when there is too much it causes the body to gain weight. The good news is that you can control your level of stress. Here’s how.

The Solution: To lower stress we need calm rather than panic to be our natural reaction to stress. Here are some great strategies that will produce consistent feelings of well-being!

  • Medidate each day for 10-20 minutes. Simply focus on your breathing, a simple word, or gradual muscle relaxation.
  • Make conscious choices when stress arrives. Examine your habitual reactions to your most common stressors. Make a plan for reacting in a more calm manner in the future. Practice makes habit. Don’t expect perfection immediately. Be kind to yourself.
  • Music. Sing, play, dance or simple enjoy listening to some music every day. It’s natures wonder drug for happiness. Take your daily dose.
  • Take breaks. During the day take multiple 5 minute breaks to walk away from what you are working on. Close your eyes, relax, stretch, or take a walk around the block. These little breaks will keep tension from building up during the day.
  • Listen to positive self-help tapes to remind you to make positive choices when stress arises.

5. Loss of Muscle Mass. As we age, we gradually lose muscle mass over the years. This makes weight gain easier because when you lose muscle mass, your metabolism declines, meaning you need less calories per day. So eating the same as last year will cause weight gain this year. That is unless you do something about it.

The Solution: It’s simple. Build up your muscles! Does this mean you have to become a body builder? No. But in order to fight the effects of aging, you should do muscle bearing workouts at least 2 times per week. Here are a few ideas:

  • Weight Lifting. Check out “The 12 Second Sequence” by Jorge Cruise for a do-it-yourself at-home workout schedule that can fit into two 30-minute workouts.
  • Yoga. Strenuous yoga as featured in videos by Shiva Rea or Baron Baptise are a great way to build muscle while also gaining many other benefits such as balance, flexibility, and sense of calm.
  • Isometric weight bearing exercises. These exercises build muscles using only the resistance of your own muscles and body weight. A classic in this genre is “The Miracle 7” by John E. Peterson and Wedie Pett.

The Bottom Line

Weight gain is not inevitable. If you want a healthy body for the rest of your life, well into your golden years, follow these steps. The best advice I can give you is to go slow. Work on one step each week. Establish the habit and then build on that success with another healthy habit the next week. If you have a day where you fall off the program, don’t beat yourself up. Just start again tomorrow. Make your health your #1 priority. Be kind to yourself and enjoy the journey!

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How do you maintain your weight? All comments big and small are very welcomed!

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29 Responses to How to Avoid the Top 5 Weight Gain Traps!

  1. Steve Crane January 15, 2009 at 4:48 am #

    The domain portion of the photo attribution link should reference flickr.com not lifelearningtoday.com.

  2. Gourmet Living January 15, 2009 at 8:39 am #

    I think it is important for people to realize that being healthy does not necessarily mean sacrifice, you can eat healthy, be healthy, feel healthy and love the life you just need to find the balance in your life.

  3. agentsully January 15, 2009 at 12:58 pm #

    @Steve – thank you for pointing that out! I don’t know how that happened. I’ll have to figure out what is making that happen. I’ve fixed it though. Thanks again!

  4. agentsully January 15, 2009 at 1:00 pm #

    @Gourmet Living – true. Everything in moderation. It’s easy but at the same time it’s the hardest thing to do for many of us! One moment at a time. Go slow, right? 🙂 Enjoy. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Exercises For Abdominals January 15, 2009 at 3:32 pm #

    “Establish a bedtime ritual. 30-60 minutes before sleep time each night do things that help you wind down such as reading, meditating, listening to music, etc. Avoid TV during this time if you can because TV is a stimulant.”..

    Very good advice. I was one of those people who would just lie there, for hours and not be able to fall asleep. It’s quite frusterating actually. I cut out the TV and youtube videos and have started reading a book instead.. certainly makes a big difference.

  6. Mike Walzman January 16, 2009 at 1:50 am #

    The solutions you expressed in the chronic stress section is exactly what I need to be doing right now, ha. But sometimes knowing what to do is not enough. When I’m in that moment, it’s hard to implement productive action. I think for me though, the walks help the best, because there’s no thinking involved, you just walk and do nothing. Sometimes nothing is the best choice. I saw this show on the history channel, about Americas first attempt doing high speeds in almost space and how the first guy that went up, lost control and tried to do every trick in the book but ended up making a bad choice and died because the laws of space are different. But when Chuck Yeager went up he also lost control, but something happened and he became unconscious. When the plane was diving back to earth, he woke up and was able to steer the plane again. So by doing nothing, he was able to save his life.

  7. Lisa January 16, 2009 at 4:13 am #

    I’m definitely guilty of not getting enough sleep and living under too much stress. I’m working on the exercise part though. Seems like stress is unavoidable, especially when you have children.

  8. agentsully January 16, 2009 at 7:39 pm #

    @Lisa – if you can get more sleep, you’ll find the stress a lot more manageable. Wishing you all the best! Thanks for sharing!

  9. agentsully January 16, 2009 at 7:41 pm #

    @Mike – that’s an amazing story! Good luck with your walking and stress! Thank you for sharing!

  10. agentsully January 16, 2009 at 7:44 pm #

    @Exercies – good for you! Thanks for sharing.

  11. Nashville Plumbers January 24, 2009 at 9:44 pm #

    Sleep more. I think that’s my problem.

  12. how to slim down January 26, 2009 at 8:02 pm #

    I know for me sleep is the big issue. The nice thing is that once you start getting into shape, and start eating healthy, you can actually get by on less sleep. I still wouldnt get any less then 6 hours a night though. Thats just my opinion.

  13. cohnsey January 26, 2009 at 8:37 pm #

    I am guilty of 4 out of 5 of those. I need to get back into shape. lol

  14. some map February 1, 2009 at 3:07 am #

    I believe that the balances of life is the important thing to achieve a healthy life. Balanced in physical and spiritual needed. And one of the steps to avoid stress is to be grateful to GOD for anything we have.

  15. sb530 February 6, 2009 at 1:58 am #

    Everything is changes.. we also have to change day by day positively… and the motivation to be better person in better life is coming from ourselves.. those are the usefull info for everybody who want making positive changes in their life…

  16. Neha March 21, 2009 at 1:10 am #

    Nice post. all solutions really help. I do 45 minutes exercise daily.

  17. Shop Supplements May 12, 2009 at 2:34 pm #

    #3 always kills my diet chances. I tend to snack a little here and a little there each day. It really starts to add up. Its a mental thing because even if I’m full I will still want to snack on something. Loading up on fiber helps some, but I really need to invest in having healthier foods around. Its tough to do that when living with roommates though.

  18. healthnut83 May 14, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    Have you watch this video? It’s an instructional work out video where dance and martial arts are combined. Watch and learn easy to perform lower body exercises by watching this video.
    http://www.female-workout.com/female-workout/power-booty-and-lower-body-moves-video

  19. Hypnosis July 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm #

    Great advice. Just like weight loss, weight gain doesn’t happen overnight – it’s a gradual process. The best way to stick to a healthy lifestyle is to choose a target weight and give yourself a few lbs leeway either way. If you start creeping outside your target weight zone then it’s time to make a change to your diet.

    • agentsully July 21, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

      @Hynposis – great advice! Thanks.

  20. tone abs July 28, 2009 at 5:42 pm #

    Thanks! for the great tips specially on the Chronic Stress. We know that on today’s society most people are inundated with overwhelming stress.

  21. Anne September 7, 2009 at 11:33 am #

    These are such great tips. The part about Chronic Stress is one I haven’t been paying much attention to. While I workout regularly and do eat well, I don’t spend enough time “not working”. I don’t feel that crazy stressed out feeling, but I know that I am spending too much time with my brain going at high speed — running through a never ending to-do list. I am going to try doing some type of meditation today, to clear my head and release some stress.

  22. Chris September 18, 2009 at 5:58 am #

    I am able to retain my weight by doing things in moderation. If I feel that I have been eating too many fried foods and junk then I will stop for a while and eat healthy. However, I do have a high metabolism that many people may envy. 🙂

  23. Weight Loss Products Reviews April 1, 2010 at 4:59 am #

    Useful tips, i personally think people should replace their crisps with some banana chips or something like that. People should work more with exercises, they must burn their calories.

  24. Sonia June 2, 2010 at 1:45 pm #

    Could not agree with you more.

    Its my first time at this site. Great post and a lot of great stuff here.

    Thanks for Sharing!

  25. Fadhli October 19, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    I would like to add some tips.. Because some people may give excuses that they don’t even have 30 minutes for exercise in their daily life.

    1) Take the stair instead of elevator. Or if your building is too high, stop at 1-2 level below and take the stairs.

    2) Follow the long way instead of shortcut if you want to go anywhere in your building.

    3)Stretch yourself after a long sit.

  26. weight loss May 6, 2011 at 8:02 am #

    Regular exercise is also a healthy lifestyle that should be applied to body weight remained normal.

  27. ryan March 12, 2013 at 8:41 am #

    is it working?i want to lose weight but its hard

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