Outsmart the cold weather seasonal weight gain with five easy tips!
I have a friend that has some common statements she makes about this time every year.
- My jeans always seem to shrink in the winter, really!
- Chocolate makes my clothes shrink
- If heat makes things expand, I don’t have a weight problem; I’m just hot!
Her plight is called by a number of different names like Winter Weight Gain, Holiday Spread, and Winter Padding. Many people shrug and expect it, but you don’t have to accept it. You can outsmart the season!
So what’s behind this seasonal corpulence? Well, one thing is that in the winter, we usually spend more time on the sofa watching TV than we do outdoors at the park or the beach. With a change in schedule and activities comes less motivation to exercise and a tendency to just let it slide. Some people are also victims of the dreaded Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) which may trigger a craving for carbohydrates that can amount to as much as 800 additional calories per day. Cold weather drives us indoors where metabolism slows, and dressing in more layers conveniently hides the extra pounds. Though winter weight gain may have its roots in biology, it is actually fueled by mood. In the winter months, we tend to eat more out of boredom or mild depression than from actual hunger.
It is a sad reality that holiday foods are calorie intense because they are fried, processed, loaded with fat and sugar, and to add to the curse, they are literally everywhere. I find it encouraging to know, that cutting back just 100 calories a day amounts to a weight loss of approximately 10 lbs. in a year. In winter, levels of Melatonin increase in our system making us drowsier and can increase our appetite making us prone to emotional eating. With less exposure to sunlight, we have lower levels of vitamin D, which reduces the body’s ability to break down fat. This all sounds like the “perfect storm” and the “planets aligning” to sabotage your wardrobe. Any clothes that are form fitting will have a new form to fit.
So, what’s the solution to this weighty problem? Is it unavoidable, inescapable? What can we do about it? The key is to stay active, eat quality—not quantity, and elevate your mood by getting some sunlight. It’s a fact that maintaining the ideal weight is much, much easier than the heroic measures often required to get it back. It’s a principle of physics that coasting requires less effort and energy than accelerating. So, don’t allow yourself to slip too far.
- Eat before you are really starving, which keeps you from craving, gorging, and binging
- Drink a glass of water before and after each meal or alcoholic beverage. This dilutes the calories and helps you consume less.
- If you need some extra Christmas Holiday motivation to not fall off the wagon, put on your swimsuit each week and stand in front of a full-length mirror. This may sound crazy and even painful, but is so revealing, and hopefully motivational.
- Commit to, and schedule daily exercise; no excuses or exceptions.
- Have hobbies that you enjoy that you give yourself time to indulge in. it will help keep the winter depression away and keep you from eating due to boredom.
The harsh reality is that bigger snacks mean bigger slacks. Emmy Award-winning stand-up comedienne and food expert Janette Barber said, “When I buy cookies, I eat just four and then throw the rest away. But, first I spray them with Raid so I won’t dig them out of the garbage later. Be careful though, because Raid really doesn’t taste that bad.”
Happy Winter Holidays!