Winter months have always presented a challenge to all of us hoping to make it through the season without experiencing noticeable weight gain.
In reaching and maintaining your ideal weight, self-awareness can be half or more of the battle. So take the time to read and re-read these traps. The next time you feel yourself falling into one the better prepared you’ll be to resist temptation.
Trap #1: Just because the days are short and the nights are cold doesn’t mean you should eat all the comfort food in your house.
We first experience this seasonal cycle in our childhood. When it was dark by five, you came home to hot chocolate with marshmallows along with cookies. Dinner favorites always included meals like mashed potatoes with butter and sour cream along side of a slice of meatloaf. And don’t forget the dessert! Now think back to those summer nights when you wanted to stay out at least until dark and by the time you came home you were so worn out your mother had to insist that you sit down and eat your dinner before taking your bath and getting ready for bed.
There are aspects of that childhood pattern that teach us helpful lessons today in our adult years. Overeating is often a default setting. Bored, fidgeting, cold weather shut-in, and more of those things we experience during winter nights, lead us almost hypnotically toward the kitchen. Summer, we’re often too busy to bother. Most of us have had the experience where after a long, busy summer day we get home and suddenly realize that we forgot to stop and pick up some dinner.
Our own biology and psychology make for higher caloric consumption during the winter and just the fact that you’re aware of this pattern helps to alert you to a trap you want to avoid.
Trap #2: Look under your bulky clothing for the “real” you.
Heavy clothing hides winter weight gain not just from others but from you as well. How many of us know the “uh-oh summer is coming I better get rid of those extra pounds,” feeling. Let’s be honest, if we lived in the Arctic year round we wouldn’t be nearly as concerned about the approach of swimsuit season. That annual weight loss ritual keeps many of us from tumbling out of control. Even if we slip ten or more pounds in January we’re busy working to get rid of those extra pounds by May or June.
Help avoid that trap by standing naked in front of your bathroom or bedroom mirror before stepping into the shower. If you see a bulge here or there that you’re seeing for the first time, that’s fine. But know that the more self-control you can start exercising now the easier your springtime weight loss effort is going to be.
Never allow yourself to forget that the image in the mirror staring back is as much you when you’re displeased with your shape as when you’re proud. Embrace the real you and be proud of your desire to be an even better you. At the very least you’ll slow that winter weight gain and make your springtime shaping program that much faster and manageable a goal.
Trap #3: Never forget the benefits of working out—even in winter.
It starts with the busy craziness that fills our lives during the holiday season. Skip your workout one day, which leads to another and then another. It’s not as though you don’t have good reason. “To do” lists get out of control during the season of giving and then it’s January and you’re scrambling to catch up. You can easily just forget about exercise. Or worse, you get to the gym only to find it filled with newbies who have resolved that this is indeed their year to get into shape.
The reason for this winter weight trap is simple to understand. Fixing it is the hard part. For nearly all of us the numbers tell the story – you consume more calories in the winter, you reduce your activity level, and extra pounds become easier to hide.
If you find it too hard in rotten weather to add the gym to your routine when traffic to get home is bad enough, just have some simple workout items at home. From resistance bands to stability balls to workout videos, doing more movement is always the key to less weight.
Now that you know how to help yourself beat all three of these winter weight traps—by being aware of trouble ahead and getting in front of the problem rather than falling behind—remind yourself of one simple truth: Come spring, shedding three pounds is easier than dropping fifteen. When those days of sunshine and swimsuits return you’ll be glad that you beat the winter weight trap blues.
Martin Brown is the Health Editor at SingleMindedWomen.com. He’s also the author of Fit in 50 Days: Creating the Habits that will Keep You Lean for Life