Have you ever felt like you were a bit heavier during the winter? You’re not alone. Many people suffer from winter weight gain and go through the same cycle of putting on pounds, then struggling to take them off every year. The good news is that, though there are numerous factors that contribute to winter weight gain, arming yourself with information helps to combat the problem. Here are the top reasons for winter weight gain and what you can do to avoid them.
When the weather cools off, your body’s instincts are to switch into hibernation mode. You blow off your normal workout schedule in order to cozy up on the couch in your sweatpants. You don’t want to go outside as much due to the cold. In short, many people tend to be less active in the winter. Instead of falling into this trap, find fun indoor activities that you can do no matter what the weather is. Try doing at-home workouts with a DVD or treadmill if you don’t want to leave the house to hit the gym. Or, you can get into a winter sport like cross-country skiing, ice skating or snowboarding.
One of the best parts about the holidays is the great food. Unfortunately, many of our holiday favorites aren’t very healthy, and people also tend to overeat at special holiday gatherings. This year, try a new approach. Allow yourself to have some treats, but limit your portions. To avoid overeating, snack on healthy things throughout the day so that you’re not starving at meal time.
Many people crave heavy comfort foods like pot pies and baked potatoes when it’s cold out. Part of the reason for this is that the carbs in these foods provide temporary relief from a lack of serotonin that occurs in our bodies during the winter. Avoid this by finding healthier recipes for your favorite comfort foods and filing up on fruits and veggies before meal time so that you’ll eat less of unhealthy stuff.
Many people put off working out when they get sick, which happens to a lot of people during the winter. Always protect yourself against bacteria by washing your hands regularly and disinfecting commonly used surfaces. You can also get a flu shot to further minimize your chances of getting sick this winter.
Lots of people experience more stress during the winter due to holiday obligations, higher heating bills, the expenses of Christmas gifts and holiday travel, etc. High stress levels have been found to contribute to weight gain, so take steps to avoid getting overwhelmed this winter. Make time for yourself and find ways to relax, such as watching a movie with your family or reading a good book by the fire.
Do you tend to wear bulky sweaters or sweatpants in winter? This could contribute to your weight gain because it makes you less self-conscious about your appearance and about what you’re eating. Think about how much more motivated you are to stay in shape during swimsuit weather. Apply the same principles to your winter wardrobe by wearing fitted clothing even when it’s chilly outside.
Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is quite common during the winter months. Those who suffer from it often have a lack of energy, crave comfort foods and tend to oversleep. All of these factors can lead to weight gain, so it’s important to seek treatment if you think you may have SAD.
Many people don’t realize that one of the contributing factors to how much you eat may be the temperature of the room you’re in. Studies have found that people tend to eat more and feel hungrier when they feel cold than when they are comfortably warm. Insulate doors and windows to keep out the draft and use the thermostat to keep your house toasty when you’re at home.
Many people go to sleep under lots of blankets while wearing sweatpants and sweatshirts when it’s cold out. It may feel nice and warm at first, but getting hot while you sleep can keep you from getting a good night’s rest. The problem with that is that studies have found that people who don’t get enough sleep are more likely to be obese. The best temperature to keep your room at when you go to bed is between 60 and 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
There are lots of calorie-laden drinks that you might tend to indulge in more when winter rolls around. Think of all the calories in your hot chocolate or your pumpkin caramel latte. Then there are all the alcoholic drinks we tend to consume at holiday celebrations. Make sure you limit your intake of these drinks and choose water most of the time in order to avoid extra inches on your waistline.
Winter weight gain doesn’t have to be inevitable. Use the tips and tricks above to avoid the common pitfalls which often lead to adding on extra pounds in the cold weather. Just by being aware of these culprits, you’re already on your way to maintaining a healthy weight throughout the winter.