Many people tend to gain weight during the winter months. Some joke that they are preparing for hibernation, but we don’t get to crawl into a warm hiding place and sleep the fat away. In our sedentary culture, factors that accelerate weight gain are a real concern. The extra pounds acquired over the winter can stay year after year contributing to health problems such as obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
People gain weight during the winter for several different reasons. If you fall towards this tendency, it is important to figure out what factors contribute to your weight gain and to plan accordingly. Simple changes in behavior can have enormous health benefits. Following are some ideas to help prevent winter weight gain.
Make a holiday survival plan.
The holidays can be a time for over-consumption of food and alcohol. Try to identify barriers that keep you from being active during this time and strive to come up with creative solutions to these barriers. Schedule them the same way you do your parties, meetings, and family gatherings. If the holidays create stress for you, think of some way to reduce it.
Stay active. Exercise is the best way to reduce stress.
Rest. It is important to get enough sleep, especially during stressful times.
Eat defensively. Include occasional small portions of treats that you enjoy, but balance it with the rest of your meals. Try to avoid munching and drinking just because “it’s there”. If you drink alcohol, keep your consumption reasonable.
Winter doldrums? Get into the light.
Many people experience mild to moderate winter depression. Severe winter depression known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is marked by depressed mood, sleeping more than usual, increased appetite, cravings for sweets and carbohydrates, and weight gain. If depression is a problem for you, consult your health care provider. They may recommend some form of light therapy, which relieves winter depression in many people as well as light to moderate exercise.
Make friends with winter.
Winter can cause a decline in physical activity, as days become shorter and inclement weather can limit exercise options. If winter weather creates barriers for you, take a closer look at those barriers and strive to combat them with creative solutions. Check out recreation programs and fitness centers in your area.
If you are comfortable with colder weather, purchase some warmer clothes and hit the street or take up a winter sport such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or ice-skating.
No matter what the reason for winter weight gain, there is always a way to minimize, if not prevent it. Remember to make a plan…stay active, rest, and eat defensively.
Dr. Paul Burns is a Chiropractor specializing in pain management and sports injuries. He has worked with many college and pro teams, including the Denver Broncos, the ATP and Wrangler Sports. His multidisciplinary practice is located in the Denver Tech Center and offers the latest in evidenced based practice methodology, techniques and technology.
For more information, visit www.DrPaulBurns.com and/or call 303-694-9759.