How to Avoid Winter Weight Gain (Or: How Not to Panic on Memorial Day!)
Ever wonder why we seem to get the "automatic" weight gain in winter? Those extra winter pounds can really creep up on us, in some very hidden ways. Here are five sneaky ways your weight can be sabotaged, with solutions for you to keep it in control.
- Stress and More Stress: One trip to the mailbox can send the heart racing, what with heating, electric and purchases-come-due bills--and that floods bodies with those waist-thickening "fight or flight" hormones, like Cortisol.
Solution: Get plenty of Vitamin D, because it has a positive effect on the hormones and immune system, says Naturopathic Physician Dr. Laurie Brodsky, ND. You can also try other stress-busters, such as meditation or yoga.
- Holiday Indulgence: Easter and Passover really isn't that far away.Soon, there will be treats and groaning buffet tables.
Solution: Practice the "Rule of One." Dr. Brodsky explains that this means you fill your plate with one of everything, such as a protein and a green and then have one drink. "That way, you get to taste everything and don't feel deprived, but you're still practicing portion control," she says.
Try to squeeze in an extra workout or two if you know a big party is imminent. And, by the way, please remember this when next Thanksgiving rolls around--remember, the period from Thanksgiving to New Years is 45-days with three holidays mixed in--not a 45-day holiday!
- Exercise Derailment: It's tempting to go right home after work when the days are short and cold.
Solution: Establish a set routine and then mark it in your calendar so it becomes a habit. Habits usually form in 25 to 30 days, says Psychology Today. Other ideas include partnering with a buddy, or creating exercise routines at home.
- Seasonal Depression: It can make you irritable, moody and sad, says WebMD. The shorter, colder days can negatively impact you--and let's face it, we don't exactly make the best food choices when we feel that way.
Solution: We tend to crave warm, comfort foods, so keep healthy ones, like a vegetable-laden soup, in easy reach. Protein-rich foods and snacks will balance blood sugar, alleviate mood swings. Brodsky has a great recipe for a pumpkin granola (see recipe in sidebar on the right of this page). "Pumpkin seeds also contain tryptophan so they'll help you sleep if you have a handful before bed," she said. A small piece of chocolate IS okay as long as it contains at least 75 percent cacao.
- Sleep Disruptions. Our sleep can actually be disturbed by too-warm rooms, and sleep has a direct effect on three hormones that regulate stress, energy balance and appetite. When you don't get enough sleep, cortisol, the stress hormone, elevates glucose and appetites. Ghrelin, which increases appetite, becomes elevated; Leptin, which suppresses appetite and moderates energy balance, is decreased. Lack of sleep also affects your exercise routine."It's a negative cycle," explains Dr. Kathia Roberts, Ph.D., ND, D.PHYT, "Some of my patients tell me they can't sleep without exercising but then, again, they're too tired to exercise."
Solution: Keep your room at 68 to 70 degrees