Guest blogger Diana Landen: I may not know how to lose weight, but I can surely tell you how to gain it. For moms, it's as easy as 1-2-3 (4-5-6-7):
1) Baby weight does not melt away by magic. I gained thirty pounds with my first pregnancy. After my baby was born, I lost fifteen pounds without trying, but the rest stayed. Two babies, thirty pounds. I was, of course, too busy with my children to go to dance class anymore. My free time was too rare and precious, and we didn't have money to spend on "unimportant" things. Besides, what kind of mother would leave her kid just to go exercise? (Answer: the healthy kind.)
2) Once you turn 40, you have to eat better and exercise more to stay the same weight. Life isn't fair. You can gain weight without eating extra desserts. Your metabolism slows down before you even realize that you're not 23 anymore. Next thing you know, your doctor is telling you that you have to improve your habits just to stay overweight! I was an older mother, so this was not good. Fifteen pounds per baby that I hadn't gotten rid of, and now I was gaining for no reason .... It doesn't have to be much, either: Three extra pounds a year will make you thirty pounds heavier at the end of ten years. So staying the same weight is actually good.
3) Stress makes you gain weight. As if it weren't enough that stress makes you lose sleep, eat chocolate and skip meals, it also raises your cortisol level. That makes your body think that you need a little extra fat to protect you, so it adjusts (read: slows) your metabolism. I learned the hard way that when you're under stress, spending money to join the pool is worth it. Digging out of debt would have been easier than losing these pounds I've added.
4) Exercise is always worth it, even if you're not losing weight. Muscle weighs more than fat, so most people gain weight when they start to exercise. Forget the scale. Can you move faster than you used to? Are you happier? Do you have more energy? Has your sex life improved? Keep moving. Even if you never lose a pound, you'll live longer.
5) Wearing clothes that don't fit doesn't make you look thin, it makes you look baggy. Remember: It's not the size of your waist that matters most, it's the size of your curves. Show them. Your man will appreciate it.
6) You can't lose weight by adding "miracle foods" to your diet. Every time I go to the grocery store, I read about a new food that allegedly makes you lose weight. Apples, celery, walnuts, milk ... someone somewhere lost more weight while eating them. It all sounds so wonderful that I ignore the small print: The people who lost weight eating walnuts were on a diet-and-exercise plan. Just adding walnuts to what you normally eat won't make you any thinner.
7) Hating your body won't make you lose weight, either. If it did, there would be no overweight people in America. I spent most of my 20s wishing I could lose a little weight. Now I wish I had my 30-year-old body back! Even the way I looked five years ago would be nice. No doubt when I'm 60, I'll wish I looked the way I do now. Maybe someday I'll achieve enlightenment and love my body as it is ....