Do those sneaky kilos appear over the winter months?
Maintaining your healthy weight can be a bit of a challenge over winter. The weather is cold, it requires more motivation than you might have to get outside and exercise (or even just go about your day). You just want to stay indoors where it’s warm and cosy. You might find you are craving warming soups, casseroles, creamy curries and hot desserts. All these types of dishes might be a bit heavier and higher in kilojoules compared to a fresh summer salad.
Physiologically, our bodies have a tendency to “hibernate” and store fat to keep us warm over the colder months.
I get it. It can be tough to keep your weight on track over the winter months. However, the principles of weight management don’t change. They are the same, regardless of the weather.
You need to maintain your exercise and activity
Are you a warm-weather exerciser? Swimming, walking or running, tennis or golf? It’s so much easier to find the motivation to exercise outdoors when the sun is shining. To help combat stagnation, get these things happening:
Put your exercise sessions in your diary
Just like your other appointments, set aside specific times in your diary for some form of exercise and stick to them. Whether it’s an exercise class or a 30-minute lunchtime walk or something else, it doesn’t matter, as long as it is in your diary. In my experience, if it’s not in the diary the chances of it actually happening aren’t good. So this is your first step. (And if you can’t find 30 minutes a day for some form of exercise, we need to talk about your priorities).
Get the right gear
Being cold and miserable really puts a dampener on outdoor activity. If you enjoy bike riding or running, make sure you have warm and waterproof clothing. Even if you are out for a walk, invest in gloves, a jacket and a hat to make it a bit more enjoyable. Maybe even a light/lamp could be helpful.
Find a way to be accountable
If putting the time in your diary and getting warmer clothing isn’t enough, then perhaps you need an accountability buddy.
There are a few ways you can do this. Maybe you can find a friend or family member to exercise with. Or, if that’s not possible, perhaps there is a group you could join. Telling someone you will be there is a great motivator to help get you moving. And, if you are a client of mine, tell me and I will be your accountability buddy. Or maybe you could do something visual like putting a piece of paper in a jar every time you exercise and when the jar is full you’ve earned a pre-determined reward (not food).
Take it indoors
If living through a pandemic has given us anything it is the opportunity to exercise indoors. Many of us now have exercise bikes in our homes or we’ve acquired our own yoga mats or maybe resistance bands or weights. And we’ve discovered thousands of workout videos on the internet for all sorts of exercise. There are now countless classes being offered online and they are here to stay. You can join a live class at any time of the night or day from all over the world. And you don’t have to look the part or be a natural talent. You can just turn up and have a go.
There’s really no excuse for becoming a sloth over the winter months.
Keep up your healthy eating plan
It just takes a little planning and creativity to maintain a healthy diet over the colder months.
- Sticking to a healthy eating plan, as you do in summer, is vital. Plan out your week’s meals (at least the main ones) and have the food on hand. Stick to your usual style of eating and avoid fried foods and refined carbohydrates.
- Swap summer fruits and salad vegetables for winter fruits and vegetables.
- Make salads more appealing in the colder weather by adding warm food to them. E.g. warm chicken, lamb, fish or falafels.
- Soups, curries, casseroles do not need to have extra or “hidden” calories or be laden with cream. There are lots of recipe options to choose from.
- Don’t overdo that warming pasta. Make the sauce the main part of the meal.
- Warmed (frozen) berries or stewed fruit with yoghurt make a delicious and healthy dessert or treat and will be much lighter than apple pie and cream or chocolate puddings.
- Porridge for breakfast or warm milk (of your choice) on your muesli or cereal are great winter alternatives.
- Watch your portion sizes. Adjust your food intake to reflect your exercise output. If you aren’t as active over the winter months then you will need to reduce your calories.
- Earn your treats. If you know you have a special dinner or celebration coming up, that is all the more reason to get moving.
Does winter get you down?
For some, winter can increase your propensity to depression (seasonal affective disorder) which may then affect your food choices and your motivation. If this sounds like you, some added herbal or nutritional support over the winter months may boost your mood and help you avoid the winter blues. (And try to get out in the sunshine whenever you can. That helps your mood too).
Remember, it’s only a few months of cold weather and then the days will get longer and the sun will be out again.