Winter Weight Gain: 7 Tips to Calorie Cutting

As the winter season sets in, people tend to hibernate more and find it more challenging to engage in activities that assist with healthy weight management.  By the end of winter, many discover that they have packed on a few (or many) extra pounds.  To add to the issues of reduced physical activity, the winter brings on holiday festivities that surrounds one with calorie-rich meals and treats.  With a little planning and discipline, you can avoid the onset of the winter weight gain.

1) Keep the calorie output flowing.

The simple rule to weight management is your calorie output (exercise and activities) must equal or be greater than your input (food).  As the weather gets cold, avoid the trap of settling in at home watching TV.  Make an effort to go for daily walks with family or friends.  Take up a winter sport like cross country skiing.  Make exercise a priority – put it in your day timer. 

2) Find ways to toss in extra calorie burning activities.

Every little bit counts.  Use the stairs when at work and when in a shopping center.  If watching TV, every commercial break, get up and do a set of exercise repetitions until the program returns (ie. simple squats/lunges, situps, plank on the elbows, cat/cow pose).   Do some winter re-organizing and cleaning – clean out the basement or garage.  Cleaning can shed a good amount of calories and is good for the soul.   Use work breaks to get in a quick workout or brisk walk (especially if your occupation has you sitting all day).

3) Create a home workout that is motivating.

Winter weather makes traveling to the gym or yoga studio less motivating.  Have a back up plan where you can easily exercise from home.  Even a small set of weights, bands and a yoga mat can provide a complete workout regimen.  Not sure what to do with your equipment or how to make an effective program?  Hire a personal trainer / private teacher for a few private sessions and make sure they provide you with a tailored program that is easy to do on your own.

4) Substitute calorie-rich food for nutrient dense items.

Replace the empty carbohydrates and calorie rich coffees with foods that promote health and help lower total calorie input.  Switch to more fruits and vegetables for snacks.  Shift to broth-based soups and hearty stews.  Curb cravings with healthy snacks like raw nuts and seeds.  Keep hydrated with tasty herbal teas.  Eat a nutritious breakfast (like oatmeal) and keep your meals and snacks well placed throughout the day.

5) Avoid the common food traps.

Always keep a healthy snack on hand when leaving the house and avoid getting to a point where you feel overly hungry.  Take healthy treats to the movies.  Eat before going grocery shopping so hunger doesn’t tempt you to buy unhealthy items (and avoid those food sample stations – they are often dishing out calorie packed samples).  And avoid taking your children with you on grocery trips (you can say ‘no’ only so many times!).  Find yourself eating while watching TV?  Then make a point to stop watching TV close to bed time– try reading or meditating instead to prevent unnecessary eating.

6) Some final food tips.

Control food portions by using smaller dishes to eat out of and eat with no distractions.  Take time to be aware of your eating including chewing food slowly and pausing to enjoy what you are eating.   Bring your own meals and snacks to work.  Plan meals in advance and make extra portions while cooking that you can freeze.  When eating out, split your appetizer and entree with your spouse or friend to reduce your portion sizes.  Eat before going over to family and friends for dinner parties – and try to skip the pre-meal cocktails (wine and cocktails are deceptive as they can contain hundreds of extra calories).

7) Reduce your stress and enjoy the season.

Chronic stress negatively affects your hormones that management healthy weight.  Enjoy stress reduction activities like yoga and meditation.  Allocate more time to spend with people that make you laugh and relax.  Take in a few good movies or books that will make you chuckle.  Enjoy regular mutual foot massages with your spouse.  Take time to pause and breath.  Create a list of enjoyable activities that you would like to pursue in the coming months and set a plan with your family or friends.

Weight gain is often attributed to a number of factors.  Explore modifying even just a handful of habits and try changing the easier life patterns first that present issues with causing weight gain.  Most important,bring your family, friends and co-workers on board so you have a supportive environment on your path to sustaining healthy body weight and wellness.

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