Winter can be a cold and miserable time for most people, when the ground outside is sludgy, wet or slippery and you feel damp and frozen to the bone every time you step outdoors. It makes getting exercise hard, and people are likely to retreat indoors for the season, hiding under blankets and waiting for the first signs of spring to arrive to venture outdoors again.
Since the holidays overlap with winter, many people associate the time period with seemingly inevitable weight gain. But winter doesn’t have to be a time to pack on the pounds—in fact, the cold weather may be an excellent tool to kickstart your weight-loss goals, since cold weather releases a hormone in our bodies that burns fat at an accelerated rate. Winter is a great time to try to drop the pounds. Get on your New Year’s resolutions with these five rules for losing weight in the winter.
1. Take Advantage of Indoor Gyms
When the weather is miserable outside, you don’t have to cancel your workout for the day. Take it indoors with a local indoor gym. Many gyms are currently hosting New Year’s sales to entice new customers, and the middle of winter is a popular time for great deals. An indoor gym will give you a variety of equipment you probably don’t have available to you at home, and it’ll be heated for the winter, giving you a warm place to exercise without worrying about freezing in the snow or rain.
2. Don’t Binge on Comfort Foods
After the holiday season, many people fall into a short period when they are unable to resist cravings and urges for foods they may have consumed during the holidays. Or they may be more inclined to curl up with a hot bowl of mac and cheese, and sip creamy hot chocolate as they watch the snow fall. Unfortunately, most comfort foods that people like to turn to in the cold winter months are packed with calories and fat that you don’t need on a regular basis. Limit the consumption of these, and prioritize eating healthy, nutrient-filled foods on a daily basis.
3. Track Your Diet and Activities
One of the best ways to ensure you know what you’re doing with your body is by tracking information diligently. This means using a pedometer to track your steps and activities, and a food diary to track how many calories you’re consuming, when, and what nutritional value they have. Luckily many restaurants these days are diet conscious and show their calorie content up front; which means you can dine out without feeling guilty. Tracking your diet like this can show you where you’re lacking, where you’re overrepresented, what your activity level is and how you can improve. Establish a baseline level—what your daily activity level is, what your typical calorie intake looks like—and then work on improving the content of your diet and attempting to improve your activity level.
4. Incorporate Daily Outdoor Time
Since cold weather is a natural fat-buster, the best way to take advantage of that is to spend time outdoors. It can’t just be a few minutes, either. Plan an outing, or a daily walk, or spend your lunchtime outside when possible.
Just being in the cold can encourage fat-burning activity in brown fat cells, which burn white fat cells and help stimulate weight loss, making it a helpful resource to exploit in the colder months when you’re trying to maximize your weight loss efforts.
5. Drink Hot Green Tea
While the cold weather keeps you shivering, you’re probably going to want to turn to something hot to warm you up. Rather than drinking a latte or hot chocolate, however, you could brew a piping hot cup of green tea. The plant’s weight-loss benefits are well-documented, and can provide an extra kick to any weight-loss goal. As a bonus, the drink will also keep you warm and hydrated through the rest of the cold, dry winter, which is great for your skin as well as your weight.
Winter doesn’t have to mean packing on the pounds. Take advantage of the cold weather and shake up your exercise routine to keep your body moving and the weight off.
Featured photo credit: Dan Zen via c1.staticflickr.com