5 Easy Ways to Beat Winter Weight Gain

November 26, 2012

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woman on scaleWinter can be a challenging time to stay motivated and stick with your fitness and weight loss goals. When it’s cold and dark by 5 p.m., it’s easy to blow off exercise time and opt to stay in cuddling your Snuggie and consuming high-calorie comfort foods. It’s time to snap out of it and shake off the winter blues with these tips:

#1 Keep Moving: Studies show that even moderate exercise daily, like walking for 15 minutes, can act as an antidepressant. So don’t let cold, wet, or snowy winter days keep you from moving. Window shop while you speed walk at the mall, sign up for fitness classes, or break out a workout video to stay active!

#2 Avoid Comfort Eating: While your body might be telling you to reach for caffeine, sugar, and carbs during the dead of winter, studies show that these foods will only leave you feeling worse. Instead, reach for some real power foods: citrus, nuts, cottage cheese, popcorn, whole grain crackers, and fresh vegetables. Be sure to watch portion size and calories even healthy foods can add up to too much of a good thing.

#3 Look for Some Light: The shorter, darker days of winter can trigger a form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder. On sunny days, take your walk outside. If it is too cold, sit and soak up some rays through a sunny window (morning sunlight works best). You can also add a full spectrum light bulb or reading lamp to your desk to help make up for dark, overcast days.

#4 Stick to a Sleep Schedule: Although bears hibernate during the winter, you should resist the temptation. Both too much or too little sleep have been linked to weight gain, so be diligent about getting your eight hours a night, but don’t overdo it. Aim to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day (even weekends) to help your body’s natural sleep rhythms stay on track.

#5 Don’t Overheat: A recent study that looked at weight gain and artificial heating had some interesting results: People who kept their thermostat high gained more weight. Why? When you are slightly chilled, your body’s own natural furnace kicks up the heat. As a result, you shiver and send more blood flow to your extremities, burning calories in the process. So turn the thermostat down and put on a sweater. You’ll save money and burn more calories to boot!

Dr. Pinto

Chief Medical Officer, CMWL


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