HOW TO AVOID PILING ON THE POUNDS THIS WINTER
Hands up who's got a few spare pounds hidden under the winter woollies?! It's easy to pretend they aren't there when you've layered up to keep warm....but the tightening waistband is probably giving it away. Or have you undone the top button, because no-one else will know?! Been there, done that!
It's actually normal for our weight to fluctuate with the seasons, though - so don't beat yourself up about it too much. We do enough of that when it comes to our weight, without adding to it.
If you think about it, laying down some reserves for a lean winter ahead was a smart move. Until 24/7 food availability made it pretty much impossible to go hungry.
In fact, sweet and delicious fruit, harvested in the autumn, was a way of laying down fat reserves, as I explain to those many women in my clinic who can't understand why they just snack on fruit but can't lose weight. So, accept a bit of a weight fluctuation as normal and cut yourself a bit of slack.
But not too much or you'll have more work to do as the layers come off...and, more importantly, your health won't thank you for it.
What can you do to keep the winter insulation at a sensible level?!
I know I bang on about it, but getting outdoors, in daylight and in the winter cold, has huge benefits for mental and physical health...and weight too. There are at least 3 good reasons to head out the door...
Reset your body clock
Dark mornings and evenings mean we rely on artificial light for much of the day...and that does nothing for our body clock and our sleep. That has health consequences, and makes it harder for your body to manage your weight due to higher cortisol levels, increased appetite and a craving for high fat and high sugar foods. Getting outside wherever possible, ideally early in the morning, gives more light than your standard office, even on a winter's day, helping to re-set your body clock for the day (and night) ahead.
Boost your brown fat
And don't use the cold as an excuse to stay on the sofa - use it as a reason to get out there! Exercising in the cold is a great way to boost our brown fat...a type of fat that burns rather than stores energy. Apparently too, according to a cosmetic surgeon I know, it can help preserve contours, keeping wrinkles at bay. Not sure I've seen enough scientific evidence on that one...but hey, it's certainly worth a try!
Lift your mood
Plenty of studies show that exercise, in whatever form, can improve your mood. Even a short burst of exercise was enough to raise self-esteem in women in one study. And, given that many women with weight struggles have had their self-esteem destroyed by years of failed dieting, that's another good reason to get out for a brisk walk. Being surrounded by green spaces is also a mood booster, according to science. So is the increased light that is otherwise lacking indoors. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD), which is made worse by the long winter nights and dark days, can be helped by getting out of the door. And a lift in mood and self-esteem can help you avoid the emotional eating call of the biscuit tin.
So, simply making a habit of getting outdoors, whether in rain, shine or snow will help keep the winter pounds at bay. But if you need more help getting back in control of your weight then sign up for my 12 weeks online Weight Loss for Life programme. I can show you how to lose weight and keep it off for good.