We lose weight to look great and feel good about our bodies. And yet even when we lose a lot of weight and look great in our clothes we can still feel unhappy at how our bodies look undressed.

The problem?

Unwanted loose sagging skin left as a reminder of our former shape. Here are the 5 keys to prevent loose sagging skin when you undergo a weight loss program.

1. Lose weight slowly

Skin has remarkable powers of elasticity and yet it does not snap back instantly into shape if you lose a lot of weight quickly - anyone who has ever had a baby will tell you that one for free!

The more gradually you lose weight the easier it is for your skin to keep pace with your new shape. You certainly didn't put on all those pounds overnight - your skin had time to adapt so don't try to get rid of them all at once either if you want your skin to stay looking good.

Change your habits gradually so that you lose your weight bit by bit and you're far less likely to have problems than someone going on a crash diet and congratulating themselves on losing 100lbs in 6 months.

2. Eat nutrient rich foods

If your meals and snacks consist of junk food (even if you eat it in smaller quantities than before) then you're unlikely to nourish your skin properly and build up its strength.

Choose foods which are high in vitamins and minerals and low in sugar, saturated fat and additives. Include foods high in essential fatty acids such as avocados, olives, oily fish, nuts and seeds and oils made from these and also ensure that you have an adequate supply of lean protein.

3. Preserve your muscle tone

When you lose weight you may find that the skin becomes loose because you have lost some of the underlying muscle which supports it. If you lose more than a pound or two of weight a week then it is very likely you're losing muscle tissue as well as fat and without specific intense exercises to replace that muscle your skin will sag.

In any case, no matter how fast you lose weight (and even just to prevent age-related sagging) it is always helpful to do some toning exercises for all parts of your body including your face to keep skin firm if you care about looking good.

4. Keep skin hydrated

Drink plenty of water to keep skin healthy. If you drink wall to wall fizzy drinks, coffee and tea skin suffers because these drinks cause you to be more dehydrated than ever. And diet drinks full of additives do not help your skin no matter how few calories they contain. Only water and pure herbal teas will do the trick.

You can add lemon or orange slices to your water and you can have it at any temperature you like but drink enough - about 2 litres a day. That's about 8 glasses. If it helps try the rubber band trick and put 8 bands on your wrist or around a pot or bottle on your desk and remove one each drink of water you have.

5. Lose weight sooner rather than later

Don't keep putting off your weight loss program. The older you are and the longer you have been overweight the less elastic and resilient your skin becomes and the more you need to stick stringently to the other guidelines here to prevent skin becoming too loose.

Also don't get too complacent about being able to eat all you want and then lose weight later before you get hugely overweight The constant yo-yo dieting stretching and then loosening the skin will harm your skin's elasticity too.

Copyright 2005, Janice Elizabeth Small

Janice Elizabeth is a weight loss coach, slimming club owner and author of "The Diet Exit Plan". Her system promotes permanent healthy and AUTOMATIC weight loss through making small changes to your everyday habits. Request her FREE 15 page report "How to lose weight without dieting - 7 secrets the diet industry doesn't want you to know" at http://www.SimplySlimming.com TODAY!

68,330 - 18 - 0 - US