Just because the holidays are upon us does not mean you need to accept the all-too-common problem of winter weight gain. Instead, why not make it your mission this year to prevent winter weight gain and maybe even get a little head start on those New Year’s resolutions?!
It turns out you don’t just have to go with the flow this holiday season. You really can take some easy steps that will help you prevent winter weight gain. The key to preventing winter weight gain is to start now, take things slowly, don’t go to extremes (so you can still enjoy yourself over the holidays), and get a running start on your fitness come January.
10 Ways to Prevent Winter Weight Gain
#1 Have a Strategy When Attending Social Events
You’ve most likely heard the old adage, “failing to plan is planning to fail.” With all the fun socializing, family festivities, and events around the holidays, it stands to reason that if you eat everything in sight, it’s going to add up, and you may start out the New Year quite unhappy with the way your clothes are fitting. So, what can you do to avoid this type of situation?
Deciding in advance that you’re going to make healthy food and fitness choices this season will go a long way toward keeping you fit.
It’s also important that you not give yourself an option to do otherwise. If it’s not a scheduled “cheat meal,” don’t let yourself make it into one. What can you do to keep yourself on track? Try some of the following strategies:
- Keep yourself satiated by eating small whole-food healthy meals at regular intervals throughout the day.
- When you’re socializing, be social and don’t make it all about the food. Instead, focus on catching up and enjoying time with family and friends. (Hint: you are not obligated to eat the food at events! Most people won’t even notice whether you eat or not. Instead, you can carry a drink around or pile on the veggies on a plate as a prop or to nosh on if need be.)
- If you do decide to indulge, first go for the healthy options (proteins and veggies, spritzers, and low-calorie or no-calorie drinks). If you just must partake in the higher fat and higher calorie items, limit your portions and get right back on track as soon as you can.
#2 Don’t Stop Moving
The next few months are not the time to slow down on your workouts. If anything, it’s time to ramp up your exercise regimen to avoid the winter weight gain. Try hitting up the weights at least three to four times a week, and throw in a few good high-intensity interval training sessions to boost your metabolism and keep burning off those calories.
#3 Minimize Your Levels of Stress
Winter can be a stressful time with all the social events, the changes in weather, and the holidays. You might be tempted to skimp on your workouts while at the same time being constantly tempted with high-fat, high-calorie foods.
Mindful eating can help you stay cognizant of what you’re putting in your mouth while practicing active stress relief like yoga and meditation can have you all Zen when it’s time to deal with relatives or that oh-so-fun office holiday party.
#4 Use Intermittent Fasting to Keep Yourself on Track
Intermittent fasting can be your best friend during the winter months and help you diet and be able to enjoy yourself responsibly during festivities while staying on track. Try moving your first meal back until about noon each day, and then keep your feeding window between six and eight hours. The rest of the time, allow your body to burn through the calories and body fat so come January, you can feel fit and healthy.
#5 Stay Hydrated
Don’t forget to drink up.
Staying hydrated can go a long way toward helping you stick to your diet plan over the winter months. Besides helping you feel full and keeping your body and tissues soft and supple in the dry winter months, drinking plenty of water can also help flush fats and toxins from your body, fight off winter weight gain and is absolutely necessary for good health.
#6 Take Your Fitness Indoors
With the temperatures outdoors dropping, it’s a great time to take your fitness fun indoors. Try some new group fitness classes, swimming, basketball, or martial arts to switch things up a bit and take advantage of the many indoor fitness options available to you.
#7 Schedule an Important Event to Keep Yourself on Track
Just imagine if you had to do a photo shoot in the beginning of spring, attend a wedding or your high school reunion, or go on a vacation. Wouldn’t you want to look your best?
Go ahead and plan something that is going to keep you motivated to keep going when you don’t feel like leaving the house, going out in the cold, or skipping that party at the all-you-can-eat buffet. Keeping your upcoming event (goal) in front of you at all times can really help you stay focused on what’s important to you and will help you make good choices throughout the season.
#8 Stay Accountable
Join friends, a weight-loss group, or an online community to keep yourself accountable. When you have to report to others on your progress, it won’t be quite as easy to skip your workouts or overindulge on foods you know aren’t helping you reach your goals.
Giving, and getting, support in groups of like-minded people is priceless and can help you (and others) prevent winter weight gain and maybe even get ahead with your health and fitness goals over the winter months.
#9 Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Now is also not the time to skimp on sleep. As tempting as it may be to burn the candles at both ends, it’s more important than ever during the winter months to get enough good sleep. With the extra stress the holidays can bring, keeping your cortisol levels (stress hormones) in check is important. Plus, you’ll be a lot more fun to be around with a sunny smile and a cheery disposition when you’re well rested.
#10 Focus on Fun
Just because the winter months can be dreary doesn’t mean you have to be dull, too. The bottom line is it’s time to enjoy the changing seasons and the upcoming holidays. Finding some activities you enjoy can keep you busy during the dreary winter months and away from snacking.
You may want to try some fun outdoor activities like skiing or ice skating as well as some indoor fun like bowling leagues or healthy cooking classes. Use your imagination and gather up your friends to get out of the house and focused on fun.