Winter Weight Gain
Did you know that research shows the average winter weight gain to be five to seven pounds? Some people gain this extra weight because they have Seasonal Affective Disorder—a type of winter depression. But most of us can’t blame winter depression for our tendency to pick up extra weight during the winter months.
What causes winter weight gain?
According to Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center, it happens because we eat more and move less during the winter months1.
This is bad news and good news. It is bad news because it would be kind of nice if we could blame our cold-weather corpulence on something exotic like the jet stream cycle and waddle off for another espresso.
But it is good news because we can do something about it. We don’t have to greet spring with softer middles and tighter clothes. So let’s take control through discipline.
Hour of decision
According to Merriam-Webster, discipline is a “rule or system of rules governing conduct or activity2.” This is perfect. In order to fight winter weight gain, we have to discipline ourselves to follow some rules.
Here we go…
1. Banned language: For the next several weeks, do not allow yourself to say, “Just this once.” If you pay close attention, a ‘just this once’ situation comes up practically every day. You go to a retirement party. You take your spouse out for a birthday dinner. Someone brings a meal by your house because you’ve been sick. Your co-worker brings in the leftover pizza from last night’s party. Your child has leftover Valentine’s Day candy. You have to say no every single time. Otherwise, you will never get ahead.
Just grit your teeth, resist what others are having and make good food choices. I’m not saying it is easy. I am saying it is necessary.
2. Plan your occasional splurge, and do not deviate from the plan. Unending deprivation is never a good idea, but you have to be intentional about the time, place, and food that you let yourself splurge on.
Love the hot wings at your favorite restaurant? Then follow your nutrition plan for the entire week. No cheating. No comfort foods. And then on your planned day to cheat, enjoy the wings! No guilt. Then set the next goal and follow the same process.
3. Keep moving. Exercise is not an optional activity. Now more than ever you have to get your body in motion. Physical activity is very effective at preventing weight gain—and that is what we’re after right now. Don’t even worry so much about losing pounds; just work to keep the winter scale-creep from happening to you. Try to exercise at least 5 days a week. Stay active.
Remember: Spring is coming. Let’s be ready for it, and leave winter weight gain behind.