Five habits that cause you to gain weight

Header image for the article Five habits that cause you to gain weight Credit: NATNAN SRISUWAN
There are many different reasons why someone may be gaining a bit too much weight. These five reasons may help pinpoint why you've gained those few extra pounds.

I’m often told by clients that they can’t understand why they are continuing to gain or not lose any weight (body fat). They are working out five to seven days a week and eating healthy 80 to 90 per cent of the time. Some start to wonder if they have an underlying issue like hypothyroidism or over production of certain hormones (often caused by birth control) that are causing them to gain weight. This could be the case, but both of those issues can be controlled with changes in lifestyle habits.

You may not even realize, but there are many things that you might be doing, and have done all your life that contribute to weight gain. In no particular order:

Sitting: The research is out there in abundance now that sitting is the new smoking. Smoking is still really bad for you (in all forms, including vaping – which I’ll leave to another article) and causes emphysema, cancer and other health issues, but sitting can cause just as many problems. The reason that sitting for long periods can directly lead to weight gain is because a) your body becomes cold and sends signals to your brain to feed it with warm food; b) your joints and muscles become shortened and still and it makes it harder to get up for activity or for the workout the next day and therefore you don’t work as hard; c) if you are sitting awkwardly on a couch for long periods, you can do damage to your spine or other joints leaving you unable to be active in the way you want or need to be; d) when we are sitting for a long time, we tend to get bored, even if we are watching, reading or typing, and boredom often leads to unhealthy snacking.

Pre-workout eating: This is a tough one because it depends on so many factors like time of day, fitness level, food quality and portions, etc. Generally speaking, if you are trying to lose weight, workout on an empty stomach (at least two to three hours after eating or first thing in the morning before breakfast). Then refuel within 30 to 60 minutes after the workout with a healthy meal/snack when your metabolism is high and your body needs the nutrients for repair and energy to keep going the rest of the day. The best meal and snack is a balanced one with carbs, fat and protein in either equal amounts or carbs: 40 to 60 per cent, fat: 20 to 30 per cent and protein 20 to 30 per cent.

Too much cardio: Many assume that they need to do more cardio to lose weight but they end up gaining because after a 60 to 90 minute session on the elliptical, you become so bored and hungry! If you need a break from the weights, and you should, keep your cardio interesting by using multiple machines in a circuit (i.e. five minutes on each one), try some intervals and vary the resistance for a more intense, shorter workout. Then, with your extra time, try a yoga class or get in a long stretch and mindfulness session to reflect on positive things in your life and take your mind off body weight and food.

Allowing daily sugar or chocolate morsels for a small treat: A little bit each day adds up over the week, month and year. One thumbsized piece of chocolate each day can add seven to 10 pounds in six months to a year. Processed sugar loves to trick you into thinking that it will satisfy your sweet tooth, but it is a sneaky drug-like gremlin that just leaves you wanting more and messes with your hormones and insulin levels, causing issues with your activity and workout intensity.

You sleep in: This is really similar to number one: sitting. The longer you lay around in bed, the harder it is to get up and get moving, or you don’t leave yourself enough time to exercise or eat healthy. Try keeping a sitting/sleeping journal to see how many hours you are spending this way and what you can do differently. If you are not a morning person and you prefer to sleep late and then roll out and rush around to get to work or school, then maybe you need to make evening workouts part of your routine. Just remember to adjust your eating and bedtime accordingly.

There are many more reasons that can cause weight gain, but this is a small snapshot of some of the common everyday habits you may be facing. Feel free to email me or come by the Wellness Centre for a chat,