Ask Yourself “How Are You?” & 5 More Tips to Minimize Weight Gain This Winter
It’s become an “auto-response” phrase. “Hi, how are you?” is a standard greeting we give each other, but it’s rarely taken literally. No one who asks really wants to hear the answer, which could include the problems you have with your flaking skin rash or the issues you have with your pain-in-the-butt neighbour.
But, by asking yourself “how are you?”, and taking the time to get a complete and honest answer, you could avoid at least some of the weight gain that many of us experience in winter.
With the holidays over and a long stretch of cold, dark days ahead of us before we even get to the next long weekend, the winter doldrums can set in. And from 25% to 50% of us report some symptoms due to those doldrums, ranging from simply feeling “blah” to full-on seasonal depression.
If your goal this year is to improve your diet and nutrition to make it easier to manage your weight, dealing with the physical and psychologic effects of winter weather poses yet another challenge. Just like the symptoms of the winter blues can range in their severity, so too can their effects. In a blog post on WebMD, Michael Terman, PhD, director of the Winter Depression Program at New York Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Medical Center, says that, “with the doldrums, it’s in the norm to gain up to 5 or 6 pounds over the winter, but with full-blown SAD (seasonal depression), weight gain can be far more than that.”
Identifying any effect winter has on your weight is the first step in dealing with it. And the first step in identification is:
Keep Asking Yourself: “How Are You?”
More challenges to your weight loss means you need to be more aware of changes in your body and mood – changes that might tell you it’s time to take extra precautions against weight gain.
So, while no one else really wants to know the details of “how are you?”, you should pay closer attention to how you are now more than ever.
The following tips will also help you spot and defeat the dark forces of winter that are out to ruin your weight management.
- Watch Out for Emotional Eating – With cold temperatures, a tough slog through snow every time you go out and days that seem to be over almost as soon as they start, it’s easy to try to give yourself a boost by cheating just a little with comfort foods that aren’t part of your weight loss plan. But that could be the worst way to try to beat the blahs. If anything, poor eating habits can make winter’s sadness worse when you have an even tougher time managing your weight.
- Bask in the Sun – Okay, it might be a little chilly for actual basking, but lack of sunlight is a major cause of your winter blues. It’s why only 1% of Florida residents report winter-related symptoms, compared with up to 50% of Canadians. Without sunlight, your brain produces more melatonin, the hormone that regulates your body clock and sleep patterns. Higher levels of melatonin have also been linked to depression. So even if it’s cold outside, try to get out in the sun.
- Get Active – Another thing that getting out into the sun will help you with is to increase your activity levels. Any physical activity burns calories, but we are much less active in winter than summer. So get active to help maintain your weight – and stay in shape for when spring and summer finally roll around.
- Get Your Flu Shot – Not only will it help you to avoid getting sick, but it can help you defeat the doldrums. Viral illnesses, like colds and the flu, upset your immune system’s balance, which has been shown to be a risk factor for depression.
- Take Off, Eh – Not everyone has the luxury of flying south, and even those that do might opt to stay home this year because of the low Canadian dollar. But if you get the chance to visit a warmer, sunnier place, take it. You’ll get more than a blast of sunshine. Simply looking forward to a vacation can boost your mood – and keep you motivated to drop the pounds. While you’ll have to keep an eye on what you eat and drink when you’re away, you’ll also be more active.
Whether winter has no effect on you or you now understand a bit more about what you’ve been going through at this time every year, the more help and support you get to balance your diet, improve your nutrition and manage your weight, the more success you will have. The nutritional consultants at your local Herbal One Centre are ready to help make it easier for you to get through the winter in great shape for springtime