Fat Points in a Woman's Life

Is weight gain in your future? Learn the seven milestones that could be your fat pitfall.
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Women, Food and Dieting

A woman's life is full of beautiful milestones: walking down the aisle, a brand-new baby, the promotion you worked years for. Unfortunately, we accumulate more than experience: At key passages in our lives we tend to pack on the pounds, and as we age it gets harder and harder to lose them. That's why so many American women are constantly struggling to get back to their fighting weight.

To some degree, gender and genetics are to blame. Starting in our 20s and 30s, the body loses two to three pounds of muscle each decade. Though this occurs at the same rate in men and women, since men start out with a higher percentage of muscle, the changes are less obvious. Since one pound of muscle burns 150 calories a day, and one pound of fat burns only three, the arithmetic becomes obvious: As we age, metabolism slows -- about 3 to 4 percent each decade, according to the American College of Sports Medicine -- and unless we consume fewer calories or lift weights to increase muscle mass, our weight creeps up.

Still, love handles and cottage-cheese thighs are not inevitable. "You are not destined to be obese," says Madelyn H. Fernstrom, Ph.D., director of the Weight Management Center at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. "People want to blame their fat cells or their parents. We have to get away from this victim mentality." In fact, "Most weight gain is behavioral, not endocrinological," says Robert Rosati, M.D., associate professor of medicine at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, and director of the acclaimed Rice Diet Program, which provides meals, classes and medical supervision to patients. "It's usually due to decreasing activity levels." The key is to understand how your body is changing and then adapt your diet and exercise habits-not easy, but definitely worth it. Here are the major fat traps in a woman's life -- and how to avoid them.

Continued on page 2:  Curves Ahead critical age: 13


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