Easy ways to ward off winter weight gain

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With winter on the horizon once again, the familiar retreat indoors is in full swing. With the colder weather comes less time spent outside, and more time spent on the couch.

While it’s difficult for those who live in areas with particularly harsh winters to do much of anything outdoors once the temperatures begin their annual descent, it’s not that difficult for cold-climate dwellers to continue emphasizing their health during such months. However, the colder climes coupled with the holidays make it easy to ignore healthier habits during the winter. As a result, many people pack on extra pounds throughout the winter months, taking advantage of all those holiday goodies while also using the bitter weather as an excuse to avoid daily exercise or healthy habits.

Just because the weather outside is frightful doesn’t mean the attitude inside should be an unhealthy one. In fact, there are many ways for those stuck inside to stay healthy this winter, no matter how many feet of snow have piled up outside.

* Brown bag it. Instead of visiting the office cafeteria or the nearby food truck for lunch, pack your own lunch instead. Doing so gives individuals complete control over their own diets, enabling them to eat healthy foods instead of the often processed foods available at cafeterias or other locales that cater to the office lunch crowd. When packing lunch, choose foods that won’t be energy drainers for the afternoon. It’s often difficult enough to maintain energy after lunch when the weather is cold and leaving the office isn’t an option. Choose foods that will boost energy, such as fruits and vegetables.

* Avoid missing meals. Perhaps due to the often hectic holiday season, many people find themselves eating whenever they can and not necessarily when they should once winter arrives. Though it can be difficult to make time during the holidays, it’s imperative to stay on a meal schedule. Skipping meals often leads to overeating, as it’s human nature to overcompensate for a missed meal by eating more when the chance presents itself. The side effects of overeating are well known and, if coupled with the more sedentary lifestyle many people live during the winter, can result in serious physical problems before the season is over.

* Change eating habits. Competitive bodybuilders call it “grazing,” eating several smaller, healthier meals throughout the day instead of sitting down to the more widely accepted three meals per day. Such a schedule might seem radical, but it’s highly effective if done correctly. Grazing effectively helps keep blood sugar levels stable throughout the day, so people won’t get the hunger pangs they otherwise might. However, when grazing, it’s important to limit calorie consumption. It’s very easy for beginning “grazers” to overdo it with each meal, as they’re used to eating meals with lots of calories. But eating six meals per day with too many calories will likely prove disastrous. Instead, limit meals to between 200 to 300 calories and stick to the schedule of eating every 2 to 3 hours. While it will likely prove a difficult adjustment at first, the results will begin to show and energy levels could rise as well.

* Say so long to sugar-laden drinks. Most people would admit they eat too much sugar during the holidays. But even when the holidays have come and gone, chances are there are plenty of ways for health-conscious men and women to reduce their sugar intakes. Perhaps no way to do that is more effective than to say so long to sugary beverages, including sodas and seasonal beverages like hot chocolate. Even everyday drinks like coffee and tea can be enjoyed without sugar. It’s easy to find non- or reduced-sugar hot chocolate, and those who like sugar in their coffee can either enjoy it without sugar or simply reduce how much sugar they put in their morning cup o’ Joe. Oftentimes, what we drink is far more sugar laden than what we eat, so be on the lookout for beverages that are high in sugar.

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