Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain

by Katie F. Boltuch Contributing writer

Photo by Lana K/Shutterstock.com
Photo by Lana K/Shutterstock.com

The fall season is in full swing with winter rapidly approaching. The desire to stay put in your warm home on your comfy couch probably sounds more appealing than going out in chilly weather. Less daylight and colder temperatures tend to have most of us retreat inside accompanied by the latest Netflix series with some warm cocoa or Gluehwein. Sounds nice, right?

Let’s face it, it’s just harder to get motivated and stay motivated this time of year. The sun rises later and sets earlier, which leaves most of us with either a dark morning workout or a dark afternoon workout.

If you’re like me, waking up on cold mornings is not exactly your idea of a good morning, especially when it’s still dark. The sun isn’t awake, why should I be? I also hate leaving a perfectly warm bed. Add in the fact that the holiday season brings an excess of everything food, drinks, etc. and you’ve got yourself a perfect recipe for weight gain.

So how can we avoid those dreaded extra pounds? Have no fear, some good ideas are here!

Make time for your best time. At some point in the day, make time to exercise. According to the American Heart Association, it is best to not only make the time to work out but to also find the best time for you. Some people prefer to get moving first thing in the morning because they don’t have to sit around all day thinking about working out later. Others prefer that extra hour of sleep in the morning because they just can’t function until they’ve had their coffee. Either way, as long as you’re making time to get moving, you’re on the right track.

Bonus Tip: If you do want to be an early morning exerciser, try adjusting the temperature in your bedroom a few degrees warmer to make it easier to leave the warmth of your bed.

Brave the elements. Go outside! According to research published in Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise, in cold temperatures race times are actually faster, and the quicker your pace, the more calories you’ll burn. Additionally, that harder, faster workout can spike your endorphin levels, which, according to a review in Environmental Science and Technology, are already increased just by you being outside.

We’ve all heard that the best offense is a good defense, so prepare yourself for whatever is happening outside. Wearing layers is your best offense. The American Osteopathic Association recommends starting with a thin synthetic material, such as polypropylene, to draw sweat away from your body. Your second layer should be an insulating layer, preferably a fleece, which will keep you warm but also allow water vapor to pass through. Your final layer should be a waterproof, breathable outer layer to protect you from the winter elements.

Use technology. My father is a gadget guy. He always has the latest gizmo. So when he bought a step counter to track how many steps he was taking on a daily basis, he said it encouraged him to do more. Not only can technology be cool, but it can also hold you accountable. It will also help if you make your goals known to friends, family, strangers, etc. Tell people you are going to work out on Facebook, Twitter, a blog or even an online community. This should strengthen your resolve, especially since you already told everyone your plans to workout. Can’t back out now, right?

Additionally, technology can help motivate you through your workout. Many phones offer a variety of tracking and pacing apps. Tracking apps help keep a schedule that will give you something to look forward to.

Music to move to. There are times when I just do not want to go out during the winter. It’s cold. It’s usually damp. The couch is comfy, and those episodes of “Friends” are not going to watch themselves! One thing that always gets me motivated is putting together a playlist with music that makes me want to move. Can’t think of any good music? Ask friends or family for suggestions. You can also turn to the internet for playlist ideas. You are sure to find plenty of suggestions.

Turn your home into a gym. If you can’t get yourself to the gym, you can always exercise at home. Between DVDs, MP3s, TV, online workouts many of which are free and podcasts, you really have no excuse. Starting small with just a few pushups, lunges, squats and crunches can help get you going. If that doesn’t work, try to recruit your family or spouse to workout with you. Having someone else to motivate you can also give you that extra push. You can also get your whole family involved by challenging them with fitness-focussed video games.

This for that. During the holidays, I tend to follow a rule that usually helps to keep me in check with my eating and exercising. It basically goes like this: If I eat these three slices of pumpkin pie which, believe me, I can and will do then I have to do something to get myself moving later or tomorrow. It sounds silly, but it definitely keeps me from overindulging, especially when I know I don’t want to workout the next day.

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