Wintertime can be wonderful. There’s the holiday season, full of parties and ridiculous sweaters. There’s the magic of the season’s first snowfall. There are also mugs of hot cocoa, the year’s most exciting sports, and the amazing smell of a fire burning in the hearth.
Unfortunately, for many, wintertime also tends to deliver a few extra inches to the waistline.
If you’ve noticed your weight creeping up during the months between the holidays and springtime, you are not alone. Studies have shown that we tend to put on one to two pounds between late November and early January. That doesn’t seem like much—but since many don’t shed that weight in the warm seasons, it can really add up over the years.
While there is no scientific evidence that suggests we’re biologically predisposed to winter weight gain (in the way that, say, bears are), there a number of reasons it can occur. Now is the time to learn what they are and take action to prevent them.
1. The cold weather makes the couch seem unusually comfortable.
When a freezing wind is bearing down and the sun set hours ago, of course you want to cozy up to your favorite spot on the couch, not head to the gym to pound out some miles on the treadmill.
But the tendency to become more sedentary during winter is a large contributor to winter weight gain. This is a shame, since exercising in the cold has actually been shown to offer unexpected benefits, such as greater calorie burn and endorphin production compared to warm-weather workouts.
2. Gingerbread cookies.
Even though we aren’t physically in need of more calories during winter, we often consume them anyway. Holiday parties, hearty high-starch meals, and the decreased availability of fresh produce can all cause us to sponge up extra calories.
To combat holiday binges, remember never, ever to go to a party hungry! Furthermore, be sure to make as many meals as you can at home, using fresh, whole ingredients.
3. We get SAD.
That would be Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), a sort of depression that arises during winter’s lack of light and warmth. Symptoms include low energy, oversleeping, trouble concentrating, and increased appetite leading to weight gain.
SAD usually begins in young adulthood and affects more women than men. One remedy often suggested is getting outside early in the morning to absorb at least twenty minutes of bright sunlight each day.
4. We whip out our big sweaters.
Finally, there’s reason to believe the typical winter wardrobe is conducive to weight gain, with more clothing that’s thick, layered, and loose. Nothing wrong with keeping warm inside a giant sweater, but the absence of form-fitting clothing can make us blind to weight gain in a way that summer’s shorts and tank tops do not.
Being sure to track your weight through regular journeys to the scale is an easy way to combat this effect.
Formulate A Winter Nutrition Plan at Lyceum Physical Medicine
If you’re serious about combating winter weight gain, partner with Lyceum Physical Medicine. Our team of medical practitioners specializes in nutritional guidance, and we can determine the best diet for you to maintain a steady weight this winter—or even lose weight in time for spring!