Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Gaining weight is easy — many people do it! All you have to do is get into the habit of eating the types and amounts of food that contribute more calories than you can possibly metabolize as energy. That’s all it takes. The years go by, and your eating habits catch up with you. Just 100 excess calories a day (the number of calories in a handful of pretzels or a couple of mini muffins) adds up to 36,500 excess calories at the end of a year and those calories result in a 10 1⁄2 pound weight gain. After just a few years, you have a big weight problem.

You may be the type of person who gains weight just looking at a cheese platter, while your coworker can devour second and third helpings without putting on an ounce. Her metabolism is different from yours. It’s probably faster. Chances are, though, her attitude toward food and exercise is different too. She may dislike exercise as much as you do, but she may have figured out what she needs to do in terms of exercise because she feels the payoff is worth it.

Some people simply move more than others throughout the natural course of their day, which helps them maintain a healthier weight. Thanks to a documented phenomenon known as the “fidget factor,” these people burn several hundred calories a day just by their use of body language. They often walk fast and talk fast, and they can’t sit still for long. Even if their jobs keep them in front of a computer all day, they have to get up frequently and move around. If you know someone who frequently fidgets, you’ve probably noticed that he or she can get away with eating more food than someone with a calm demeanor.

Everyone who has ever tried to lose weight knows that losing weight isn’t always as simple as balancing eating and exercise. Other factors are involved in weight gain. For instance, if being overweight or obesity runs in your family, then you may have a genetic predisposition to easy weight gain. On the other hand, even if your parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, and uncles are mostly overweight, it may not be in your genes. It may just be that you picked up bad eating habits.

Many of your diet routines — the times of day you eat, the types of food you choose, the reasons why you eat, and even your habits of eating slowly or quickly, reading the newspaper, or watching television while you eat — probably came from your parents, who “inherited” them from their parents, and so on. See “Examining your family history” later in this chapter for more about taking your family history into account.

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