Do you notice your waistband feeling a little snug this time of year? Much attention is given to avoiding weight gain during the holiday season, but I personally find the blah months of January and February to be a much larger nemesis when it comes to staying fit.
While we’re not biologically predisposed to weight gain in the colder months, our habits tend to change, making weight management a challenge. A number of factors contribute, from the availability of baked indulgences to reduced motivation to stay active.
But more subtle factors are at play as well. We tend to feel down during the winter months due to reduced light, which may cause us to lean on food for comfort. (“Comfort food” is aptly named, no?) It’s also easier to hide weight gain under baggy clothes and jackets, whereas bikini season holds us more accountable for our physiques. (I’m convinced that’s why there are so many trim people in Florida and California).
So what can we do to ward off winter weight gain? Or if we’ve packed on some pounds, how can we turn our act around before the warm weather hits?
My recent article offers healthy modifications of comfort food favorites like mac & cheese. Making smarter choices about fats – for example, using avocado, squash, or olive oil for creaminess instead of butter and cream can go a long way.
Marjorie Korn, SELF magazine’s associate editor of food and nutrition, explains that while we may be disinclined to go outside when it’s chilly, doing the opposite can go a long way.
In an interview with the Huffington Post, she recommended,
“Get yourself some cute workout gear and take it out for a spin! Whether it’s running, cycling, or oh-so-festive ice skating (which burns 450 calories an hour and tones your butt and thighs), being active in nature is simply more fun than battling crowds at the gym.”Research also shows that the refreshing burst of air will keep you coming back, and sunshine can help combat the winter blues. Plus, don’t you feel like a total badass when you’re the only one jogging outside while those other mere mortals curl up by the television?
Avoid the “banking for later” or “I’ll be good tomorrow” approaches. Skipping meals with the intent of giving yourself permission to gorge during a holiday meal later will likely backfire. Eat breakfast every day and have small snacks and water throughout the day so you’re never entering a meal ravenous. The same goes for exercise. On the flip side, instead of telling yourself you’ll burn 500 calories on the treadmill tomorrow so it’s okay to eat a giant meal today, work out before the meal so you’re reminded of the hard work you’ve put into looking good. It’s much harder to eat that cookie when you know how long you spent on the elliptical to burn its calories.
Think about how you want to feel when the warmer months approach, and visualize how you want to look. And if you really need a burst of motivation, book a trip to a sunny locale!