Winter is your enemy. Freezing temperatures force you inside, where you shovel heaps of high-fat comfort foods down your gullet. Before you know it, you’ve gained 10 pounds and your New Year’s resolution has you shackled to a treadmill. Winter weight gain isn’t just an urban myth; it’s driven by biology and fueled by mood. In fact, most of us gain between three and four pounds during the winter months, despite our best efforts. But fret not: You can combat winter weight gain and remain slim and trim for spring. There are many contributing factors. First, it seems likely that we have a genetic disposition to store more fat as winter approaches. Many animals do this and it was probably vital to survival for our ancestors.
Many people are prone to gaining weight during the winter months for a couple of reasons. Colder weather often means less activity; add less activity to holiday gatherings and festivities, and you get winter weight gain. You can maintain, or even lose weight and still enjoy holiday fun by following these easy suggestions.
Stay on Schedule
The winter months are pretty hectic, but it is important to stick as closely as possible to your regular routine. Just getting a full night’s sleep may help prevent winter weight gain. So if you party, don’t party too hard, too often or too late.
There are lots of culprits, but cold is the No.1 suspect. When temperatures drop, we stay inside. Our metabolisms slow to a crawl and we pack on the pounds. But the conspiracy runs deeper than that. During the winter, we forgo low-calorie snacks for prepackaged, high-fat delights like chips, nuts and crackers. We also get less sunlight, which makes us feel down in the dumps. To combat those feelings, we gobble up carbohydrates, fats and sugars, which make us feel better.When it gets colder outside, we tend to start moving less and less. For example, if you are a walker or runner, you might exercise less if you live in a cold climate. Addressing the problem can help you keep your mood and motivation steady throughout the year.”
Regular exercise has numerous benefits including:
1. Weight loss and reduced body fat
2. Increased energy
3. Lower blood pressure
4. Improved heart function
5. Boost in self-esteem
Here are some tips to help you prevent winter weight gain:
1. Continue to walk as much as possible every day. There are plenty of places to walk inside on those cold, bitter days. Walking every day will help you maintain an active lifestyle.
2. Exercise at home. It will save you time, money and take away the excuse of having to go to the gym to workout.
3. Eat less on the days you don’t exercise.
4. Hire a personal trainer, get an exercise buddy or buy an exercise video to help you exercise.
5. Exercise with your family. Family members can help motivate each other to exercise.
Preventing Winter Weight Gain.Many people tend to gain weight during the winter months. Some joke that they are preparing for hibernation, but we don’t get to crawl into a warm hiding place and sleep the fat away. In our sedentary culture, factors that accelerate weight gain are a real concern. The extra pounds acquired over the winter can stay year after year contributing to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
People gain weight during the winter for several different reasons. If you fall towards this tendency, it is important to figure out what factors contribute to your weight gain and to plan accordingly. Simple changes in behavior can have enormous health benefits. Following are some ideas to help prevent winter weight gain.
Make a holiday survival plan. The holidays can be a time for over-consumption of food and alcohol. Try to identify barriers that keep you from being active during this time and strive to come up with creative solutions to these barriers. Schedule them the same way you do your parties, meetings, and family gatherings. If the holidays create stress for you, think of some way to reduce it. Stay active. Exercise is the best way to reduce stress. Rest. It is important to get enough sleep, especially during stressful times. Eat defensively. Include occasional small portions of treats that you enjoy, but balance it with the rest of your meals. Try to avoid munching and drinking just because “it’s there”. If you drink alcohol, keep your consumption reasonable.
Winter doldrums? Get into the light. Many people experience mild to moderate winter depression. Severe winter depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD), is marked by depressed mood, sleeping more than usual, increased appetite, cravings for sweets and carbohydrates, and weight gain. If depression is a problem for you, consult your health care provider. They may recommend some form of light therapy, which relieves winter depression in many people as well as light to moderate exercise.
Make friends with winter. Winter can cause a decline in physical activity, as days become shorter and inclement weather can limit exercise options. If winter weather creates barriers for you, take a closer look at those barriers and strive to combat them with creative solutions. Check out recreation programs and fitness centers in your area. If you are comfortable with colder weather, purchase some warmer clothes and hit the street or take up a winter sport such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or ice-skating.