Summer is still months away, which means many of you haven’t begun thinking about your summer body yet. But if you’re the kind of person who realizes every April that you have mere weeks before beach season hits, and then hit the gym in a desperate flurry of cardio and weightlifting to drop those love handles before you break out the bikini, then it may be time to consider a new tactic.
A short, month-long burst of exercise and portion control will not transform your body, and if you have loftier goals than losing an easy five to ten pounds, then you’re going to need much more time to get the results you want. Fitness is developed through lifestyle changes, not short challenges or temporary diets and fitness regimes. If you want to get that rocking summer body, you need to get started several months in advance. You need to start in winter.
Cold weather helps you lose weight faster
The colder weather may encourage bundling up instead of swimsuit season, but it turns out cold weather encourages your body’s fat burning ability to kick into gear. The chilly temperatures force your body to expend more energy to preserve your body’s internal temperature, which means your body is burning through more calories just to stay warm in the winter.
Your body has white and brown fat tissue. The two have different purposes; white tissue is stored energy, and it’s the fat you accumulate from consuming excessive calories. Brown fat tissue, on the other hand, functions more like muscle and actively burns white tissue. It’s found more prominently in babies than adults, but as an adult you still have some brown fat in your body. The cold weather encourages brown fat to kick into gear and start burning white fat tissue.
Temperatures don’t have to be very low to activate brown tissue. Even a brisk 66 degrees can produce significant fat-burning activity, which means exercising outside in the winter, even for the friendlier climates, can help your fat-burning goals more than hot weather.
Exercise can beat the winter blues
Colder weather is likely to bring about the winter blues. Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD, is a common diagnosis around this time, a depressive episode caused by gloomy days and a lack of sunlight. However, exercise has mood-boosting properties that can ward off the negative vibe that winter may bring you. Exercise releases endorphins that help give you a short-term mood boost, but it also helps stabilize your mood long-term, making it a natural antidepressant that’s beneficial to your mental and physical health.
Rather than letting winter get the best of you, start a regular fitness regime that can help you sort through emotional stress and struggles in the coldest time of the year. It will also help your immune system and cravings for food, making it helpful to keep you healthy and keep your portions and meals controlled and balanced.
Weight loss is a long-term commitment
The most important reason to get started on your summer body in winter is because quick weight loss is notoriously temporary. Just like your bikini wax or that fancy laser hair removal you got, you will have to continue to maintain your body in the months ahead. A regular, gentle introduction to a fitness regime and new diet can help you lose 1 to 2 pounds a week, generally accepted as the most reasonable and realistic amount of weight you can lose without resorting to unhealthy habits or dropping weight that will come right back as soon as you slack off.
Most people regain the weight they lose, regardless of how they lose it, but those who adopted a gradual lifestyle change versus a sudden dive into a fitness program are more likely to succeed in losing weight and keeping it off long-term.
Rather than a pre-summer hustle, get your fitness goals ready now, before the cold weather transitions into spring. The head start will give you a better chance at success and help you rock that bathing suit with confidence in July.
Featured photo credit: Jakob Montrasio via flickr.com