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General Health

My Scale Is Broken: 5 Reasons You’re Gaining Weight

Subtle reasons you could be adding pounds instead of subtracting them

You’ve been doing everything right (you think) to drop those pounds, yet the scale isn’t budging. Or worse, it’s tipping in the other direction. Before you throw back your head and wail, “Why am I gaining weight?” and toss the scale and your good intentions off a cliff, consider these subtle reasons you could be adding pounds instead of subtracting them.

  1. Unhealthy “healthy” foods. Oatmeal is good for you. Loaded with antioxidants and fiber, oatmeal’s benefits run the gamut from preventing cancer and diabetes to reducing your risk of heart disease. Even McDonald’s includes it on their healthy breakfast menu. But if you check the nutrition facts on that bowl of oatmeal you picked up at the corner diner, you might find it’s loaded with sugar and butter. And that fruit juice smoothie might be made of full-fat dairy products. Solution: Bring your meals and snacks from home so you can be sure what you’re eating.
  2. Mindless nibbling. “It’s only one cookie,” you say to yourself as you pack your child’s lunch. A handful of jellybeans, 10 Hershey’s kisses (over a three-hour period) and a cheese stick (or four) later, and you’ve nibbled your way to more than 1,000 extra calories—and it’s only Monday! Solution: Keep a food diary for two weeks—and include everything you eat, even that stray cookie—so you can have a true accounting of your caloric intake.
  3. Stress. Back-to-back deadlines and that never-ending home improvement project could drive you to seek comfort in a pint of Ben and Jerry’s and a margarita. Solution: Resist the temptation. Find another stress-relieving outlet, such as a yoga class or a relaxing bubble bath.
  4. Medication. Some prescription medicines can cause weight gain, including antidepressants and birth control pills and those used to treat diabetes and hypertension. This weight gain could be in such small increments that you don’t even notice it until your pants won’t zip. Solution: Talk to your doctor about the side effects of any new medication.
  5. Too little sleep. Several studies show that the less you sleep, the more weight you gain. Perhaps, the research says, because when you’re tired, you’re less physically active; maybe because you make poor food choices when you’re sleep deprived. Solution: Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night.
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