Motivation Monday: winter weight gain

Now that the air is getting cooler, days are getting shorter and oversized hoodies and sweaters are becoming clothing options again and you may find it increasingly difficult to stick to your health and fitness goals.

Instead of abiding by your 6:00 am “gym time” alarm, it is easier to roll over and snuggle back into your warm, comfy blankets. You may find comfort in hiding the results of those extra cheat meals underneath many layers of clothes. And by the time Thanksgiving and Christmas time rolls around, fruit pies, stuffing and an infinite amount of gravy appear as staples in our kitchens.

Autumn and winter are the two months in which we typically put on pounds. Scientifically, there is not any biological evidence that influences the weight-gain in humans, according to Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, medical director of the Bariatric Institute in Ottawa, Canada. However, it is our behavior when the temperature drops and the skies become grey that lead to the increasing number on the bathroom scale.

The true medical phenomena known as SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder, could also be to blame for extra pounds. Scientists believe SAD is caused by the little sunlight we receive during those cold months.

Vitamin D is a nutrient that we receive directly from the sun that helps fight depression, but when temperatures begin to dip, we seek warm shelter indoors for most of the season. Therefore, we become defecient in the physically important vitamin.

This condition causes mild to severe depression in millions of people during the winter. It also causes an increased appetite and cravings particularly for sweets. This is how SAD can lead to weight-gain.

We all know when Daylight Savings time comes around in the fall, the days get shorter. That means walking to an 8:00 a.m. class or leaving a 6:30 p.m. class occurs in the darkness. Because the sun rises earlier and sets later, our biological clocks want us to sleep more. Did you ever realize that you tend to spend more time in your bed during the fall and winter?

It is this constant inactivity and tendency to sleep more that also causes winter weight-gain.

So we have learned why our favorite jeans fit so snug in January, the science behind why we crave homemade apple pie and sugar cookies in the winter, and why we are likely to miss our alarms in the morning. But the real question is you may be wondering is “how do I stop the winter weight-gain before it starts?”

Here are few tips to continue your health and fitness journey during the fall and winter months:

1) Reschedule your workouts

Some of you have set a routine to hit the gym or pavement early in the morning and late at night. These times, however, are the chilliest and darkest of the day. If possible, schedule workouts for the afternoon. This is the warmest time of the day for those that exercise outside and you will receive plenty of sunlight while walking or driving to the gym.

2) Healthy twists on holiday food

The stuffing, gravy, fried turkey, and pumpkin pie may be the traditional comfort foods that we know and love during Thanksgiving and Christmas, yet they are also very high in carbohydrates, fat, calories and sugar. Tweaking holiday recipes is great way to spare you and your family from the extra pounds and still enjoy the meal.

Slow bake your ham, turkey, or chicken in the oven instead of frying them. Create a pumpkin pudding instead of a pie just by omitting the crust. It has the all of the taste of the pie without the calories and carbs from crust. Make mushroom gravy instead a thick, fat-loaded, gravy based on meat drippings.

3) Soak in the rays

The Sun is very important to our health and vitality. In order to ward off depression during the winter months, you must utilize the rays as much as possible.

Grab your boots, coat and scarf and take a walk outside during high noon. Aim for at least 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure a day.

4) At home workouts

Let’s face it, some days, it will be impossible to leave your house during the winter. Snowstorms, below zero temperatures and sleet are all reasons to stay indoors. But, you should have planned workouts that you can do in your home. is full of half-hour exercise routine that you can complete in your own living room. Wii Fit and exercise DVDs are also good choices.

5) Tea

Warm drinks are popular during the winter months, obviously. However, the amount of sugar in coffee drinks and hot chocolate can expand your waistline quicker than you expect. Hot tea is the best choice for those subzero mornings. Whether it is herbal, black or green, tea can be sweetened with honey, stevia or drank plain and still have more nutrients and benefits than other hot drink choices.

So you see, it may take a bit of adjusting, but you can conquer the fall and winter months. With enough determination in your health and fitness goals, a seasonal change should do nothing more than switch your routine around and give you more motivation to succeed. While many people are overindulging in comfort foods and skipping workouts, you are creating your summer body, in the winter.

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