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6 reasons for those 10 extra pounds

The craze for low-fat food and exercise notwithstanding, Americans are getting heavier than ever before. If 10 pounds or so have appeared on your scale from seemingly nowhere, read on … we may have some answers. But first, some questions:

  1. Do you eat out a lot? It’s hard to go a single block without stumbling over another fast-food joint. And you’re not likely to be ordering a single burger with a small cola. Now you can have a triple-deluxe, extra-value, extra-giant meal with all the fixings and more. These menus are loaded with fat, and if you’re taking in more of those meals each week, you’re going to see it on the scale.
  2. Are you a low-fat food junkie? Low-fat foods are great tools to help you through a craving, but they are still high in calories. So, if you eat two low-fat chocolate cookies instead of two high-fat ones, great! But if you eat a box of low-fat chocolate cookies instead of two high-fat ones, not so great. And not so helpful in terms of maintaining weight.
  3. Do you drink a lot of exotic beverages? We’re talking fruit juices that sound nutritious but are really more colored sugar water than anything else. We mean frozen fancy coffee drinks that seem just like coffee until you check the high-sugar, high-fat ingredient list—and that’s if you can find one at the coffeehouse where they’re served. Half those drinks don’t even quench thirst very well. Your best bet? Water—bottled or tap, carbonated or flat. It’s good for you, your body probably doesn’t get enough and it’s absolutely 0 calories!
  4. Do you ever really move? Think about your life now compared to 10 years ago. You sit at a computer. You never walk to the post office because you’re too busy e-mailing. You do so much catalog shopping you barely go the mall anymore. And when was the last time you got up to change a TV channel? If your life has taken a decidedly sedentary turn and you’re not cutting back on eating, pounds will creep on. To combat your high-tech, low-energy lifestyle, increase your formal exercise and build in more movement on a daily basis, say, by routinely taking the stairs instead of the elevator.
  5. Are you getting older? Well, of course you are. But if you’re still eating like a 16-year-old, chances are you’re not metabolizing like a teenager. Think about it—two slices of pizza may have seemed just right in college, but maybe one slice with a salad will do the trick today. After all, you should have stopped growing by now!
  6. When was your last physical? Unless they’re sick, many adults just don’t go for an annual checkup. And that’s not wise for a whole lot of health reasons, one of them being that unexplained weight gain may be a symptom of a host of problems like diabetes or thyroid disease. Many of these conditions need attention and/or can be easily controlled, but only if they’re properly diagnosed. So make a doctor’s appointment now.