Tired of those kilos hanging around – at least according to your scales? Learn the secrets of the weigh – in.

You've nibbled your way through healthy low-fat meals for weeks and put in some serious hours at the gym to shave off the kilos. But the scales haven't budged - not one tiny little bit. In fact, when you stepped ever so tentatively on them just yesterday morning those evil little numbers jumped up a half a kilo! Small variations in your body weight are perfectly normal - you might have been eating a few carbohydrate-loaded meals, you could be a little constipated or dehydrated. Eating more salt, an under active thyroid, even increasing exercise ... there are many reasons people have unexplained and sometimes confusing weight increases when they step on the scales. Some experts tell us you can even blame it on the weather.

Forecast: weight gain

Across the globe, kilo creep in chilly weather has been blamed on many things - not getting outdoors and exercising for one. Some researchers claim there's another scientific reason, lack of sunshine producing Vitamin D. This vitamin is said to boost Lepin, a hormone that signals a feeling of fullness to the brain. However, not all researchers agree. Biochemist Dr Helen Macdonald, from University of Aberdeen, has studied the link between obesity and low circulating Vitamin D in the body and says the results are inconclusive. "It may be due to the Vitamin D stored in fat stores which are inaccessible, or due to differences in how the Vitamin D is carried in the blood," she says.

Description: Forecast: weight gain

Forecast: weight gain

Catch some sun when you can so you can boost your vitamin D, and get active. Dianne King, exercise physiologist, says rain, hail or shine, and no matter what the season, there's no excuse for turning into a couch potato. "Get moving and you'll soon see the results that you're looking for," she says. "Remember even elite athletes don't get to take time off in winter, eat whatever they want and look that great!" Staying well hydrated is important too. If you're dehydrated your body hangs onto every precious drop and you'll retain fluid, equating to increased water weight, and up those numbers climb.

Under active thyroid

Hypothyroidism affects around one in seven women. It's caused by the body not producing enough thyroid hormone. Early symptoms include tiredness, poor concentration and yes, a slow and steady weight gain. It's an insidious disease and a condition that's often misdiagnosed, says Beverley Garside, president of the Australian Thyroid Foundation. "Some women get to the point where they're virtually starving themselves and still gaining weight," she says. "Often doctors write it off as early menopause, or depression, in which case they'll prescribe anti-depressants which only exacerbates the weight gain."

Description: Under active thyroid

Under active thyroid

Reduce your risk by ensuring you have enough iodine in your diet - eat iodine-infused bread, salt and plenty of iodine-rich seafood and dairy. If you have a family history of thyroid issues or is experiencing symptoms - ask your doctor for a blood test. Once diagnosed, the condition can be stabilised with medication.

Monthly meltdown

Most women could confess to experiencing food cravings before they get their period. It would be OK if it was fresh fruits and vegies your body hungered for, but sadly no, it's usually sugary, refined carbs. As if that wasn't enough, you may also gain water weight through fluid retention.

"Holding excess water and salt can fluctuate your weight by a kilo or two, as a result of altered hormonal levels in the kidneys," says Professor John Eden, gynaecologist from the Women's Health and Research Institute of Australia. But, the good news is it's only temporary.

Description: Most women could confess to experiencing food cravings before they get their period

Most women could confess to experiencing food cravings before they get their period

You might not feel like it, but exercising dramatically reduces PMS symptoms, including the temptation of the refrigerator. "Exercise is beneficial due to the neurotransmitter effect of exercise on the brain's feel-good chemicals," says Dr Elizabeth Farrell, gynaecologist and acting medical director at Jean Hailes Foundation for Women's Health. Try to resist the urge to eat refined carbs and fuel your body with nutrient-rich grains, pulses and soy. "Foods like these contain natural plant-oestrogens which can help with PMS symptoms," she says.

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