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Try these tips to stop 'weight creep' as you get older.

Your favorite pair of pants once zipped easily, but lately you can barely get them over your hips. Sound familiar? Most adults experience the dreaded "weight creep," where the numbers on the scale gradually increase -- and before you know it, you're 10 pounds heavier. But it’s not inevitable. Simply by making a few gradual lifestyle changes, experts say, you can stop gaining weight and even drop some pounds.

There are several reasons most adults gradually gain weight.

First, as you get older, your body changes. Your body slows down with each passing decade. And that’s not all.

"The effect of aging also slowly changes your body composition, decreasing the amount of calorie-burning muscle and replacing it with fat," says Elizabeth Ward, MS, RD.

Further, most adults become much less active as they get older but continue to eat as much as they did in their 20s. The combination of aging, less exercise, and a healthy appetite are the reasons so many of us eventually experience "weight creep."

Add Muscle to Stop Gaining Weight

One of the best ways to stop gaining weight is to power up your metabolism by increasing muscle mass. Experts recommend strength training a few times week to both retain and build muscle.

"Muscle is metabolically active, and to minimize naturally occurring muscle loss, you need to be physically active every day, including resistance training two to three times a week," says exercise physiologist Felicia Stoler, RD,host of TLC's Honey We’re Killing the Kids. "By being active, you can enjoy more calories without gaining weight -- if you choose your calories wisely."

And change up your fitness routine every six to eight weeks to keep your body from getting too accustomed to your workout.

"It has to be challenging; otherwise, it won’t work," says Ward.

Stop Gaining Weight by Eliminating Bad Habits

Some of the common mistakes people make that lead to weight gain include:

  • Not making time for physical activity
  • Mindless eating in front of the TV after dinner
  • Drinking too much alcohol or sweetened drinks like specialty coffees
  • Skipping breakfast
  • Eating irregular meals
  • Finishing kids' meals
  • Reaching for second helpings
  • Eating too many simple carbs (like sugar and white bread) and not enough protein

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