Fall is finally here, and with it, cooler weather. Studies show that with the cold weather and all the coming festivities, people tend to gain five to seven pounds. Seasonal weight gain varies from person to person, but certain issues specific to winter months tend to tip the scale in the wrong direction. Here are a few reasons why:
Feeling too tired
When the sun is shining and the air is warm in the summer, it’s much easier to hop out of bed and be productive. However, when the cold takes over and the sun starts setting at 4 p.m., all you want to do sometimes is stay in bed. Consider buying proper clothing for the winter that’s comfortable to wear outside so you can get up with the sun and get moving. A brisk walk in the winter morning air could be just the thing to wake you up and start the day right.
It’s too cold
It may not apply as much in our hometown, but for most, the colder weather makes it harder to get out from under our warm comforter or in front of the fire and head outdoors. The cooler weather deters a lot of people from continuing with their active routines. Many drop their summer jog, outdoor sports like tennis and swimming, or get lax in their after dinner walks. If it means a few more layers or you need to call on a friend to stay accountable, then do it. It’s not easy to stay active when it’s cold or freezing, but it’s not as difficult when you have a partner in crime waiting for you. Also, check out my easy, indoor exercises on Tuesday’s. They’ll keep you active, inside!
Seasonal affective disorder
It’s rather depressing to leave for work when it’s still totally dark outside. Thankfully with Arizona refusing to participate in daylight savings, we’re less affected. But it’s not all in your head. Lack of sunlight in the winter can actually have a significant effect on your mood and health developing for some into Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a type of clinical depression. Making a concerted effort to wake up in the morning and take advantage of the sunlight to counteract the lack of exposure in the evening can make a difference.
The holiday season brings with it an influx of parties and gatherings that are fueled by tons of drinking and eating. It sounds fun in the beginning, but by New Year’s, you’ve probably gotten a little too used to that sluggish feeling that sets in post-holiday binge eating. And that holiday eating leaves its mark well into the rest of the year. When it comes to holiday events, preparation is key. Don’t arrive hungry and nibble small amounts over time at the event. Take a small plate with just a few items so you’ll consume less and need to revisit the food whenever you want a refill.
Lower body temperature
When the temperature plummets, we’re not just reaching for scarves and mittens, but also for heavier, more warming foods. As I said in last weeks post, blame our genes for increasing our appetites, and therefore our weight, to survive the cold months to come. Eating helps to raise our body temperature and fuels the energy needed to survive. But with houses, lighting, heating and an abundance of clothes, we can overcome this genetic prodding for foods packed with fats and carbohydrates to warm us up. Turn to warm oatmeal, hearty stews, and winter vegetable soups instead.
Under multiple layers of clothing, it’s easier to disguise and cover up insidious weight gain. It’s easier to be less aware of its impact until the clothes come off when the months warm up. Try using an incentive. Pick a summer article of clothing and try it on weekly to see if it still fits. Or use a smaller, newer item as incentive to loose weight in the winter and show off a svelte new body come spring!
Eggnog and hot toddies are a staple during the holiday season, but overindulging is all too easy and comes at a weighty price. Try drinking plenty of water before and during your festive get-togethers to avoiding drinking too many cocktails. Pick those that are lower in calories or add seltzer water to minimize the alcohol. It also helps to go into the happy hour or party with a set number of drinks in mind so that you pace yourself and don’t go overboard. And please, drink responsibly. Make sure you have a designated driver, be prepared to call a taxi, or use an app like Uber or Lyft- and make these plans ahead of time.
The season surrounds us with a variety of higher calorie foods. Beyond the parties outside of work, co-workers may start flooding the office with baked goods and candy that will now live at the end of your desk for weeks. That’s when willpower is more important then ever. According to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine most people do not lose the weight they put on during the holidays, which can mean packing on a significant amount of pounds as the years tick by. Rather than fight off cravings, keep healthy snacks stocked in your desk drawer as an alternative.
Sugar is everywhere
Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanza. . .you name it, most holidays revolve around food and the majority of them give special attention to dessert. The key here is to analyze options and settle on what you really can’t live without. Choose what to indulge in and stick to that. Try your hardest to think about it ahead of time and plan where you truly want to spend your calories. Or be the one who brings the low fat options for like-minded party goers. Check out these holiday recipes for some ideas- and stay posted for new recipes, coming soon!
Before the first fall leaf changed color, pumpkin spice lattes and scones had already made their return. And with each transition from fall to winter comes more sugar-filled, specialty coffee drinks and desserts. It’s hard to ignore the tasty craze, but if you can resist the fancy titles, you’ll avoid tacking on unnecessary calories to your day. If you must indulge once in awhile, go for the smallest size, low fat options and ask the barista to halve the amount of sugar in the drink and hold the whipped cream.
To combat these issues try these tips
- Stay hydrated-Drink a large glass of water before, during and after each meal.
- Eat foods with a low glycemic index so you’ll feel full faster, with less calories.
- Get outside as often as possible. Take a sun break at work, but don’t forget the sunscreen!
- Eat small multiple meals (read about the G.R.A.D.E. diet)
- Choose protein, fruit and vegetables over fat and carbohydrates.
- Don’t alter your sleep pattern. Shoot for the same 7-9 hours nightly.
- Exercise daily.
Winter weight gain isn’t a given. Not only can it be prevented, with these tips you can turn it around and actually lose pounds by the time the coats come off.