As the weather turns colder and the days grow shorter, activity levels naturally drop and the upcoming holidays tend to involve binging on sweets and starchy foods.
A 2000 study found that holiday weight gain may be an important contributor to the rising prevalence of obesity.
The average weight gain in the 6 weeks from mid November to January 1 ranges from 1-5 pounds.
In a subsequent study, successful weight losers maintained greater exercise, greater attention to weight and eating, greater stimulus control, and greater dietary restraint, both before and during the holidays.
A few tips:
- Keep portion sizes of “bad foods” small,just a bite or two of triple chocolate cheesecake may be enough
- Increase your exerciseon the days before and after a particularly indulgent event
- Load up on cinnamon, it’s a warming herb that has been shown to keep blood sugar levels stable and insulin levels lower
- Stay well hydrated and drink 2 cups of water before each meal
- Have the soup, studies have shown that soup before a meal reduces overall caloric intake
- Get back on track. If you go overboard, don’t beat yourself up, just regroup and get back on track with your usual healthy habits.
Source: Nutr Rev. 2000 Dec;58(12):378-9 and J Consult Clin Psychol. 2008 Jun;76(3):442-8.
With the colder weather you may just need to bundle up more for outdoor activity or take your workouts inside. I love to run and generally maintain my outdoor running workouts 2-3 times per week over the winter. I just dig out the insulated winter running tights, layer on t-shirts, long sleeved t-shirts, maybe a sweatshirt on really cold days then a windbreaker, hat and gloves. Some of my running friends attach extra traction to their running shoes to prevent slips and falls and to gain speed over ice and snow. I haven’t tried them yet, but I’m thinking an investment in something like Yaktrax might be a good idea this year.
A couple of my favourite indoor workouts that don’t require a gym membership include:
- Yoga: My favourite yoga video is Bryan Kest’s Power Yoga series because I prefer a more vigorous ashtanga yoga, If you’re new to yoga you may want to try Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Beginners
- Cardio: The days that I don’t run, I do a cardio workout in my living room called Turbofire. The instructor on these is a good motivator, the workouts are fun but as challenging as you want to make them and include some high intensity interval training which has been shown to deliver great results in a time efficient manner.
Remember in cooler weather that gradually warming up and keeping muscles, tendons and ligaments warm becomes more important to prevent injuries.