We all carry and store fat in different ways—and for some, the first sign of gaining a few pounds is a puffier, rounder face. And, unlike any other area of the body, your face is not the easiest area to cover up until you've managed to get it back to where you want it to be.
There are other factors that can also contribute to a fuller-looking face, particularly for women. Changes in your hormones—such as your period or pregnancy—can make your body retain water and, therefore, make your face look a little bloated. Thyroid issues can also cause your face to look rounder. However, if it's down to weight gain, then how do you shift it? Well, as with any type of weight gain, there is no quick fix, but if you find the face is the first place you put on weight, the good news is that it's likely the first place you'll lose it from, too. Read on to find out more.
Amp Up Your Exercise Routine
It goes without saying that exercise helps contribute to weight loss (particularly if a routine is undertaken alongside healthier eating habits, but more on that below). But there aren't exercises that will shed pounds off of just the face. The healthiest route, then, lies in undertaking a whole-body exercise regimen.
"There is no exercise that is going to specifically target the fat on your face," says personal trainer Gemma Yates. "It's a case of any exercise will do as long as you do it. And I'm talking cardio here: You need to get your heart rate up and into that fat-burning zone by working at a high intensity. It also results in EPOC—excessive post-exercise oxygen consumption—where your body works hard to repay the oxygen deficit from exercise for up to 24 hours later. In other words, you burn more calories afterward than you would be working out at a lower intensity."
So whether that's swimming (a great option if you have joint problems), a HIIT workout that you can do at home to fit around your schedule or simply putting on your trainers and going for a brisk walk—invest in a Fitbit ($200) to monitor how many steps you take, and each day, try to walk more—the key is doing it.
Eat Nutritious Foods
The old adage that you are what you eat actually rings pretty true. If certain foods make you bloat (salty potato chips, sodium-rich sushi), they'll naturally contribute to puffiness and should therefore be avoided—at least, most of the time. A healthy, everyday diet means one rich in nutrients, leafy greens and whole grains (and light on processed foods).
Avoid Processed Foods, But Indulge Occassionally
You don't need to be a rocket scientist to realize that cutting out fast food will help you lose weight, but more than that, it's about reducing the amount of sodium you're consuming. If you have too much salt in your system, your body clings onto all the water it can so it doesn't dehydrate, which is why your face can look puffy. Of course, salt (sodium chloride) is necessary to regulate hydration levels and to assist in nerve and muscle activity but the CDC recommends that Americans consume less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) of sodium per day as part of a healthy eating pattern. If you're not able to eat a home-cooked meal three times a day, be sure to check the salt contents of any packets.
While we wish we could tell you that there was a magic cream that would make all our faces look less puffy the day after we've gone HAM on a few California rolls, the reality is a bit different. Of course, doctors advise against crash dieting, or even removing entire food groups. Rather than focusing on a number on a scale, the key is to include plenty of leafy greens alongside that sushi, stay active, and hydrate. In other words, focus on your health, and less on your weight.