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How To Stave Off Extra Pounds At Every Life Stage     First Posted: 08/28/11 11:26 AM ET   Updated: 10/28/11 06:12 AM ET

It's true that there are certain times in your life (after getting married, post-kids, during perimenopause) when extra poundage seems to appear out of nowhere -- and settle on you. In fact, experts have honed in on the exact moments when you're most vulnerable to weight gain.

"Life transitions, having a baby, and going through menopause cause many women to pile on pounds," says Susan Albers, Psy.D., author of "But I Deserve This Chocolate!: The 50 Most Common Diet-Derailing Excuses and How to Outwit Them." "But with planning and prep, you can stay thin."

We asked top experts for their strategies to help you ward off weight creep -- and even shed pounds -- at these tricky stages. Solutions ahead.

Getting Married
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Heavier ever after? It can be the flip side of wedded bliss: "Six out of 10 of my clients come back heavier after the honeymoon," says celebrity fitness and wellness guru David Kirsch. Young newlyweds pack on an extra six to nine pounds in the five years after getting hitched compared to singletons, according to research from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And most of that gain happens in the first year of marriage.

"Couples start to mirror each other's eating habits," explains Albers. "You might be matching him calorie for calorie without realizing it." Keep the pounds down with some strategic single-girl thinking:

Be a portion teller. Women tend to eat more when dining with their mate, says Albers. Back when you were only eating together a few times a week, that was no biggie, but once you have a dozen meals a week or more together, those extra calories add up.

As a general rule, have a serving each of carbs (fist-size), protein (palm-size), and healthy fat (around a tablespoon), and fill the rest of your plate with any non-starchy veggie, like broccoli, cauliflower or green beans, says celebrity dietitian Ashley Koff, R.D., co-author of Mom Energy. Yes, his hands are bigger -- so he gets more.

End dinner drama. Just because he's a steak-and-fries kind of guy doesn't mean you have to give up your favorite healthy meals. "Alternate days to choose dinner," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, R.D., author of "The Flexitarian Diet." "If you want sushi on your night, he can go along with it or fend for himself."

Leave the love nest. Gym classes. Social obligations. Couple time. Once you're hitched, it may feel like something has to give. To make sure it isn't your gym time, work out with your girlfriends, suggests Koff.

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Filed by Emma Gray  |