Gaining Ground on Weight Gain
When weight gain sneaks up, look at it as an opportunity to take control.
The belt has to go up a notch; your underwear elastic is forming a geometric
pattern on your waist; the dryer seems to be shrinking everything. It's
And if you're like many folks, the scale can tip as much as 10 pounds before
you even realize it's happening.
"Some people gain weight any time there is a change in their normal
routine. Whatever they are doing just isn't allowing them to eat the way they
did before, so the extra pounds start to creep up," says Susan Kraus, MS,
RD, a clinical nutritionist at Hackensack University Medical Center in New
But whether it's the result of overdoing restaurant dinners, a few too many
laps around the cruise ship pastry table, or because you've been sidelined with
a fitness injury, if you eat more or move less, weight gain will
And, experts say, if you don't lose those extra pounds right away, you could
be in for an even bigger surprise down the road.
"People wonder how they gained 50 pounds between age 20 and age 50. But
if you add just two or three pounds a year, every year -- there are those extra
pounds, and you don't even realize how it happened," Kraus tells
Another point in favor of catching that weight gain early? The longer you
keep it on, the harder it is to take it off.
"The longer you are at a certain weight, the greater chance your body
will perceive that weight as normal -- so when you try to diet it's going to
perceive that as abnormal and send signals to correct it, like hunger
and cravings," says Robert Yanagisawa, MD, director of the Weight
Management Program at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
Even if your weight gain doesn't spiral out of control, sometimes adding
just five or 10 extra pounds is enough to put your health at risk, Yanagisawa
"It all depends on where you are at when you gain the weight," he
says. "If your BMI (body mass index) is already high; if you have high
blood pressure, or diabetes, for example; if the gain causes a jump in your
waist size; then even a small amount of extra weight could jeopardize your
Checking Weight Gain: Where to Start
If you've had a break in your normal eating routine -- because of the
holiday season or a vacation, for example -- you may only need to return to
your previous eating habits to lose the extra weight, Yanagisawa says.
"You may not even have to diet, per se, but if you just start eating
like you did before you gained the weight and if you do it right away, you
might be able to drop those extra pounds without too much trouble," says