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Gaining Weight as Frustrating as Losing Weight

The majority of people who write me want to know how to lose weight. They pour out their frustrations at how their clothes don't fit and how their excess weight affects their self-esteem. They sometimes mention how envious they are of their ''thin'' friends. It would surprise them to know that many skinny people feel just the same way about their bodies. These skinny people say things like, "My being skinny reduces my self-confidence in facing people." "I, sometimes, feel uncomfortable with my thin appearance. It affects my self-esteem, especially during office presentations. I have a good wardrobe but the fit of my clothes is not that good because of my shape." Trying to gain weight can be just as frustrating as trying to lose weight. Both conditions require hard work, commitment, and, most of all, patience. There are no quick fixes.

Reasons for thinness.
The obvious reason why a person can't gain weight is that they just don't eat enough. To gain weight, you have to eat more calories than you burn. Most thin people have small appetites. Another reason is that thin people burn too many calories either from too much physical activity or ''nervousness'' and fidgeting (not being able to keep still). One can also inherit the tendency to be slim just like others can inherit a stocky build. There are also some medical conditions like having a hyperthyroid, which can be the underlying reason for being too thin.

Advice to gain weight opposite of losing weight.
If you are a thin person trying to gain weight, you can share the advice given below with a friend who is trying to lose weight. All they have to do is the exact opposite. Losing weight and gaining weight are just the extreme ends of the energy equation. In the middle is weight maintenance - the calories coming in are equal to the calories going out. To gain weight, you need to eat more calories than what you burn, to lose weight you need fewer calories than what you expend.

Eating more on a small appetite.
If you have a small appetite that prevents you from eating a lot, there are several strategies you can use to ''train'' your stomach to accept more food. When eating your main meals (breakfast, lunch, dinner), eat the main course first. Drinking hot soup or eating a salad before the main course may ''kill'' your appetite. You can eat these things after you have eaten the bulk of your food. Eat at a more rapid pace and don't talk so much while eating. Many thin people eat very slowly - another reason why they feel full very fast.

Eat several times a day.
Eating many high-calorie meals spread throughout the day will help make sure you get enough calories. Aim for three or four full meals with two to four snacks.

"Drink" your calories.
This is a quick way to get additional calories without having to eat too much. For example, to make a glass of apple juice, you need at least three apples. You get the calories of three apples without getting full. When ''juicers'' first came out on the market, some people I know gained weight because they didn't realize how many calories they were drinking. If you decide to drink milk, don't drink skim milk (not enough calories) but don't drink full-cream milk either (too high in saturated fat). Low-fat or reduced-fat milk is a better alternative.

Don't forget to eat fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables have a lot of fiber and, therefore, will make you feel full. However, you need to eat at least five servings a day to protect your health (half a cup of cooked vegetables or one banana is considered one serving). Fruits and vegetables are proven cancer-fighters. You can't afford not to eat them.

Eat healthy "calorie-dense" foods.
Eating ''junk food'' may sound like a good idea to gain weight because they are so high in calories. However, you don't want to get unhealthy as you try to gain weight. Eat healthy foods that are low in saturated fat (fat from animals) but high in other types of fat (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated). For example, peanut butter and avocados are high in the good type of fat. Frying your food in olive or corn oil is a fast way to get additional calories without ruining your arteries. Nuts like peanuts, cashew, or pili are excellent snack choices - healthy but high in calories. Find ways to mix high-calorie ingredients with your main meals. For example, add cheese, nuts, or oil-based salad dressings to your salads.

Weight training is the best exercise.
One of the best ways to build up skinny bodies is through weight training, but not just any kind of weight training program will do. If you lift light weights, your muscles will get harder and more defined but you won't gain much mass. You need a program of lifting heavy weights. The weight has to be heavy enough that you can only lift it for eight repetitions. Naturally, a person cannot just start lifting heavy weights. You have to build your strength. This is when you need patience. However, if you keep at it, you can build a very shapely body. Some of the most aesthetically pleasing bodies I have seen have belonged to formerly skinny people who have religiously undergone a weight-training program. You also need aerobics-type exercise (walking, jogging, etc.) to have stamina, endurance, and a healthy heart. Do a maximum of twenty minutes (not counting warm-up and cool-down periods) to achieve these goals without burning too many calories.

Get enough rest and sleep.
Finally, make sure to get at least eight hours of sleep every night. Avoid being nervous and stressed-out. Conserve your calories by being calm and relaxed.

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