Fall, the season of the harvest, is the time when winter weight gain creeps into our lives at a steady pace. Primal evolutionary survival mechanisms urge us to store fat when the temperature drops to keep warmer. With the days shorter and less sunlight to make vitamin D on our skin, Seasonal Affective Disorder can set in - varying degrees - causing sadness and low-energy which trigger a desire for carbs and sweets. Then the holidays arrive to cheer us up around the winter solstice, ironically bringing more stress and oh, the dinners and parties replete with rich, calorie-laden cuisine, pastries and drinks, soothing that stress temporarily: All the ingredients of a conspiracy.
We step on the scale in spring when we remove layers of clothing, naively expecting the pounds to have melted away. This whole cycle will repeat while perhaps some of the weight remains Ė next fall you might be starting with more weight!
Here are 7 tips to prevent winter weight gain:
- Move your body. Exercise will generate core heat when you feel cold. Either get out there for a brisk walk / winter sports or take your workout indoors. You can always turn on the music and move. Exercise raises your body temperature and releases happiness chemistry to warm your heart. You wonít need food to soothe.
- Sip hot herbal tea before a big meal to fill up sooner. Also, because you canít gulp it, sipping hot tea will slow you down, a relaxation cue. The warmth permeates your body and different flavors contribute to aromatic relaxation. Find your favorite.
- Create a bedtime ritual to improve sleep. Quality sleep will facilitate weight loss because your body releases an appetite-suppressing hormone to thwart overeating. Also, donít override your natural rhythm with light and technology. A warm bath with a cup of chamomile tea directly added to your bath water is a great muscle relaxant and stress-reducer.
- Try a candle light meditation to infuse your spirit with fire and heat. Sit comfortably and stare at a lit candle for one minute; then close your eyes for 3-5 minutes to see what heart-warming images come up for you. Perceived reality becomes reality.
- Switch to winter meals of rich stews, hearty peasant food made with beans and root vegetables, and chunky, thick soups to give you extra energy as well as keep you warm. You will feel full longer.
- Eat salmon, walnuts, omega 3- enriched-eggs and other omega enriched products. Omega 3s lift your mood. Happy people donít fill empty hearts with junk food.
- Help your mind anticipate spring instead of dwell on winter! In the midst of winter you can plant some spring bulbs in colorful pots and watch them bloom in your house: tulips, crocuses, hyacinths, narcissus and daffodils. Or you can buy bulbs already in bloom at your local supermarket or garden center. Donít forget the research-proven stress-relief of fresh cut flowers always available, inexpensive and awaiting your creative touch.
Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life
, Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout
and Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul,
a stress-reduction specialist, motivational speaker, a personal trainer and mind/body lecturer. She is the host of the weekly Turn On Your Inner Light Show on WGBB AM1240 in New York City , produces a weekly wellness newsletter, and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com