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Some of you reading this may find the concept of weight gain being a seasonal issue a little odd, especially when it’s a year-round bother for most of us! And that’s true! While some people are blessed with a body that seems to hide traces of any food having gone inside it (totally not jealous of you guys, not a bit!), not everyone is that lucky. There actually are reasons why people find the needle tilting towards the higher numbers on their weighing scale a few months into winter.
7 Reasons You Pack on the Kilos in Winter
It’s not just your insatiable cravings that cause you to put on some extra insulation during winter. There are scientific reasons that you’ll be quite interested to know (and place the blame on, maybe?).
1. Blame It on Evolution (or the Lack of It, Rather!)
A study suggests that in the past, during winters, it was important for animals (including humans) to pile on body fat to brave the harsh and cold weather. This ideally meant stocking up on plenty of food because eating to maintain optimal weight was an important defence mechanism of the body. While the possibility of scarcity of foods during winter has died down considerably, our bodies haven’t yet come up with an evolutionary response to curb excessive eating during winters; not to mention the amount of artificial elements in today’s foods that keep us craving for more and more. So, yes, to a considerable extent, you can blame science for making you gain weight!
2. Depending Too Much on Warm Comfort Foods
When it’s cold and you’re freezing and you see a deliciously decadent chocolate lava cake with a molten centre just beckoning you towards it, you don’t think twice; you savour that piece of heaven to feel all warm and fuzzy! Unfortunately, the piece of heaven decides to stick around in your body as extra weight, if it isn’t a one-off indulgence. Winter will have you reaching out to all the warm foods you can find, adding to your weight.
3. All Those Holiday Parties and Treats
Christmas and New Year celebrations will be in full swing mainly around December and January, which basically means a lot of hearty dinners and sugar-loaded treats coming in from every corner. You may find it hard to say no to every single cookie or cupcake that comes your way, but pretty soon, you’ll notice that every last one of those treats have contributed to your weight gain!
4. Not Getting Enough Exercise
Going for a quick run after your shower from the cold bathroom to your cold bedroom to bury yourself in warm clothes doesn’t count as exercise, unfortunately. And it’s not like the great, cold, and windy outdoors is super-conducive to work out in too! But all that great food and not a lot of exercise is just going to add to your weight gain problem.
5. Increased Metabolism…
…which may not be super advantageous, as more the energy burned to help your body stay warm, the more you may find yourself reaching out for snacks just to let the hunger tide over, and pretty soon, it’s one too many. And we all know what one too many snacks can lead to!
6. Staying in Bed for Too Long
Wanting to curl up under the covers and stay there is completely natural during winter. The days are shorter and darker, and the thought of your bed will seem more and more tempting all throughout the day – maybe a bit too much! The lack of exposure to natural light during these few months tends to confuse your body and make your sleep-wake cycle go awry with excess production of the sleep hormone, melatonin. Also, up go the kilos when you’re not up and running, and instead, are in hibernation!
7. Lesser Visual Reminders
Sometimes, a good long look in the mirror is what you need to really assess and understand your appearance. However, winters call for layers and layers of clothing, whether at home or outside, causing you to miss out on regular reminders about your appearance. This can make you a little lax towards your treating your body right and unconsciously fall back on unhealthy habits.
6 Ways to Ensure That You Don’t Fall Prey to ‘Winter Weight Gain’!
Now that you know what the main causes are, you just need a way to beat the seemingly-inevitable winter weight gain. Here are 6!
1. As much as possible, try to have the healthier and lower-calorie alternatives to your favourite foods. This may not always be feasible because your coworker may not have made batches of multi-grain cupcakes along with the refined flour ones, but you know what we mean! Try to limit your consumption of excess sugar and salt treats; if hunger pangs hit you hard, fruits, veggies, nuts, and high-fibre foods, in general, need to be your first conscious choice.
2. Don’t run out into the cold to complete your exercise quota for the day. Opt for indoor workouts like yoga, skipping, running up and down the stairs, even going on a cleaning spree at home! Not only will this help you stay active, but these exercises will help burn all those evil calories from your snacks!
3. To counter sleeping in, well, get enough sleep! That means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day with proper routine and seeing it through. Try and gain exposure to enough sunlight during the day so that your body’s circadian rhythm stays intact and can manage itself better. Another thing you can try is to keep your annoying alarm quite far away (but not out of earshot!), so that you’re forced to wake up just to shut it off!
4. Be accountable to someone. If your resolve is strong enough such that you’ll stick to achieving your goals without any extra persuasion, then by all means, plan your days and work towards your goals of not gaining weight. But if you need a little push, keep your partner or your family and friends in the know of your goals, so that you have someone to keep nudging you when you feel the winter blues getting to you!
5. A study has shown that shivering can actually help you lose weight! When you shiver for around 10 minutes or so, you actually convert your ‘white-fat’ (which is energy storing) into ‘brown fat’ (which is energy-burning) – meaning that you achieve the same benefits as a small session of moderate exercise. So shiver your way to some weight loss!
6. Opt for broth-based soups over heavy starters. Soup functions to make you feel warm and full, keeping your tummy filled enough not to gorge on calorie-dense snacks and dishes later.
Cosy and warm as your bed might seem as you snuggle in, all bundled up, with a stomach full of warm food, remember that you need to get up and stay active in winters too! This winter, let’s try and shed some pounds instead of gaining some, what say?