winter weight

by erin

Remember when I said that I was really proud that I had finally learned how to eat right and maintain my weight, blah blah blah?  Well, it turns out that's really easy to do when it's summer and you're working full time and planning a wedding and have the motivation of said wedding to keep you on track.  In comparison, when you're in your last semester of law school and are incredibly unmotivated in general, and when it's cold out and all you want to eat is macaroni and cheese and popcorn, it's not so easy to maintain those healthy eating habits.  Huge SIGH.
(photo courtesy of njweightdoctor.com)

I was in the midst of developing my new Lose the Winter Weight plan (it's all about the plan, people) when it occurred to me that some of you might be in the same boat: stuck in endless winter, tired, unmotivated, but not happy with those few extra pounds.  So here are my tips for losing weight through these cold winter months - and yes, I will be taking my own advice.

Go Outside
Trust me, I know.  When it's 30 degrees out (or 0 or -30...) it is damn near impossible to willingly put on your winter coat, hat, scarf, gloves, boots, etc., and go outside for an extended period of time.  So you have to make it fun!  Take part in activities like ice skating, skiing, tubing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or have an good old fashioned snowball fight!  If you have a dog, take him out for long walks or to the dog park- he probably needs the exercise as much as you do (as mine does).  Or grab your significant other or kids and take a photo walk - wander your neighborhood and capture the winter scenes.  Winter makes for beautiful photo opportunities!

Stay Active
If you can't get yourself to go outside (again, I completely understand this), then find ways to stay active without leaving the house.  I'm planning on diving into my workout DVDs (my favorites are Biggest Loser Yoga and, of course, the 30 Day Shred) and downloading a few new workouts (this one is amazing if you have a little extra weight around your midsection.  I wouldn't have fit into my wedding dress without it!).  If you have OnDemand, there's usually a good selection of workouts there.
Or just stay busy in your house - tackle those deep cleaning/organizing/renovating projects you've been meaning to do for months.  Bonus points for turning up the music and dancing around your house while you clean!

 I recently discovered that I wasn't drinking nearly enough water as I should be.  As a result, not only have I gained a few pounds, I'm also tired, sluggish, and my skin is definitely not clear.  But when I'm cold, the last thing I want to do is drink cold water.  Solution: hot water with lemon.  Squeeze the juice of half a lemon into a big mug (more or less, depending on taste), and throw a slice in there for good measure.  Add hot water, sweetener if you'd like (I put stevia in mine), and there you are.  Bonus: this will also decrease any bloating you might have going on.

Take Your Vitamins
My doctor recently said to me, "basically, if you were to lay outside naked all day during winter, you still wouldn't get enough vitamin D."  Interesting imagery, but her point was that there is a serious vitamin D deficiency going on in winter, and it's hard to overcome.  Vitamin D is important for bone health, but it's also essential for mood.  Winter blahs = lack of motivation = weight gain = winter blahs.  It's a vicious cycle.  There's new research that it is essential to take vitamin D with calcium for proper absorption, so get yourself a calcium/D supplement (there aren't many foods with vitamin D) and take it every day!
Other important vitamins: B complex (for energy), and Zinc and vitamin C (for the immune system).
Disclaimer: I am in no way an expert on vitamins or health.  I just spend a lot of time on the Internet.  If you feel that you might have a vitamin deficiency, talk to your doctor.

Comfort Food in Moderation
In the wise, wise words of Michael Pollan: Eat food, not a lot, mostly plants.  It's so simple, but it's true.  Processed foods - anything where you can't pronounce the ingredients - aren't food.  My new goal is to eat plants 75% of the time: fruits, vegetables, beans, whole grains.  I'm not going to give up chocolate or pasta or cheese, but I'm going to try to eat lessNo fast food, no soda.
Eat FOOD, not a lot, mostly PLANTS.
(photo courtesy of healthspablog.com)

Tea Time
It seems like someone discovers a new benefit of green tea almost every day.  I know, it's difficult to believe the hype (my husband and I joke that, pretty soon, green tea will be able to walk our dog and clean our bathroom and do our laundry, ha ha ha ha ha).  But green tea is very incredibly healthy: it helps with weight loss, it keeps your skin in check, and I just read that it makes your hair thicker (so naturally, this is what motivated me to step up the intake dramatically).  Of course, the best part of green tea is that it will help to prevent against cancer.  Superfood?  I think so.

Fake It
Winter is the season for paleness and dry itchy skin and breakouts and static-y hair.  It's difficult to feel good about yourself when you basically feel like a mess 99% of the time.   Therefore, indulge in a few look good treatments: self tanner (NOT tanning beds, unless you have a strong urge to give yourself skin cancer), manicures and pedicures, hair and face masks, etc.  Drink a lot of water and run a humidifier at night.  And speaking of night - get enough sleep!  This alone will help you look (and feel) so much better.

So, there you have it.  These all may seem like common sense, but sometimes you just have to write things down, you know?  If you have any additional tips for losing/maintaining weight in the cold dead winter, leave them in the comments!  And good luck!


Jessica F. said...

I feel fortunate that I haven't gained any actual pounds (which is pure luck because I haven't done anything and generally eat crap on a daily basis), but I am definitely getting less toned/slightly flabby, feeling bloated and generally very blah as you described.

Tonight I decided that I must wake up just 15 minutes earlier tomorrow a.m. for a short jog on the treadmill and slowly... very slowly work my way back to my pre-wedding workout routine. Also completely agree about whole foods. Kind of tough to do, but so important. Thanks for this article. I'm clearly not alone in feeling not that great in winter.

Janel Hurtado said...

I <3 30 Day Shred AND Michael Pollan. I will definitely be taking a look around and subscribing. Thanks for the great article!

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