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The Five Sneaky Reasons Your Weight May Be Creeping Up on You

Updated on October 27, 2015

It’s a common scenario that most of us can relate to: you are eating all the right foods and leading an active lifestyle, but after you step on the scale, somehow the number is a little higher than last week. How could that be? Well, if you’ve put on an extra pound (or two!), it may not be a result of the usual suspects.

So what, then, might be the culprit? Here are eight additional reasons that you may be experiencing unwanted weight gain:

Lack of Sleep

As the saying goes: you snooze, you lose. Lacking in sleep, less than six hours a day in particular, can cause an almost 30 percent increase in the likelihood of becoming obese. The sleep/weight connection is linked through sleep and the peptides that regulate appetite.

When we do not get the proper amounts of sleep, we have a decrease in the secretion of leptin, the hormone which stimulates our feeling of satiety. Add to that shortened sleep is also tied to an increase in Ghrelin, or our "hunger hormone". When you put the two together, it is easy to see why a decrease in sleep leads to an increase in appetite.

PCOS

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a cluster of symptoms that present due to a hormonal imbalance in women. Symptoms include pelvic pain, irregular periods, infertility, thick, dark velvety skin and excess body and/or facial hair. Women with PCOS often have higher levels of the male androgens and are much more sensitive to insulin. This impacts weight as insulin is used to convert starches and sugars into vital energy, but with PCOS, the body becomes resistant to insulin, causing a buildup of sugars and insulin in the blood. Because the hormone imbalance is swayed on the male side, weight is often gained in the belly, causing an "apple" shape rather than a "pear" body type.

Although there is no cure for PCOS, lifestyle modifications in areas such as diet and activity have been shown to improve symptoms.

Antidepressants

It is not conclusively known why antidepressants cause weight gain. Some theories include carb cravings, change in chemistry or the psychological effect whereby the less depressed you become, the more social and accepting you may be to indulge. Whatever the reason, many people who take antidepressants have reported substantial weight gain despite a [4]reasonable diet and an active lifestyle. It is always recommended that a physician be consulted when dealing with medication of any type.

Antidepressants are most certainly a helpful tool to help deal with depression and anxiety as are the activities mentioned above when trying to calm your level of stress. Working with a mental health professional to create an integrated action plan maybe help to curb some of the aforementioned contributors to weight gain.

Hypothyroidism

Those who have an under active thyroid often have a low metabolic rate as well. Having hypothyroidism not only causes weight gain, but the resulting biochemistry makes it difficult to lose. Common symptoms of hypothyroidism include weakness, fatigue, dry hair, rough, pale skin, frequent muscle aches and intolerance to cold.

Thyroid function can be assessed through blood tests and if you are found to have hypothyroidism, supplementation may be useful. Again, please consult a qualified medical professional for further information.

Stress

Being under stress doesn't always lend itself to making good decisions. Many people may define themselves as "stress eaters" or "emotional eaters" when high carbohydrate or sugar foods are used to ease tension. However, there is also more to this story then just reaching for a bag of salty chips. When our bodies are under stress, we secrete the hormone Cortisol; this stress hormone not only contributes to how we gain weight, but also where we carry it. Those with high Cortisol tend to gain extra weight in the abdominal area which is especially dangerous due to belly fat's strong tie to cardiovascular disease.

Today's busy lifestyle doesn't always make it easy to avoid stress, however, there are small changes that we can make that will impact us in a big way. Some strategies used to cope with stress may include increased physical activity, mindful eating, cutting back on caffeinated foods such as coffee and chocolate, ensuring that you get proper nutrition, including a well-rounded breakfast, getting enough sleep as mentioned above and most importantly, giving yourself a break whenever you feel your stress levels building.

With obesity rates steadily increasing, the battle of the bulge is one that most of us are fighting. Eating well and being as active as you can are great first steps to maintaining a healthy routine, however, if you are still having those unwanted pounds creeping in, addressing some of these lifestyle areas may help clear a path to a happier, healthier you.

Good luck in your journey to better health.

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