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June 8

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How to Avoid Winter Weight Gain

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At the time of writing, we're just entering winter down here in Australia. With the colder temperatures, dark nights and adverse weather, people tend to become less active. Winter weight gain is a common problem, but how can we avoid it?

The more we do to tackle weight gain at the start of winter, the less we'll have to worry about when the warmer weather reappears.

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Is winter weight gain normal?

Research shows that, on average, people tend to gain between 2-to-3kg over winter. That being said, this obviously varies from person to person.

In some cases, people gain weight due to Seasonal Affective Disorder, a type of depression caused by short days and lack of light.

For the most part though, we can't blame this for those extra kilos we collect during the colder months.

So, why do we tend to gain weight during winter?

Well, when the weather's colder we tend to eat more and move less.

The classic formula for gaining excess weight.

However, we should look on this as good news. Since we know what causes it, we are better prepared to do something about it. By the time Spring comes around, we can be in better shape.

All it takes is a little discipline.

Dictionary definition of discipline - a sytem of rules of conduct. We can use this to avoid winter weight gain.

The first step to avoid winter weight gain - pay attention to the words you use

For the next few months, don't allow yourself to use "just this once" as an excuse. Similarly, phrases like "oh I've been good" or "one won't make a difference" are equally banned.

Once you think about it, you'll be surprised at just how often this pops into our head each week.

Someone brings cake to the office. It's a friend's birthday party. You're celebrating a promotion. There's leftover dessert from a family meal. This list of reasons we tell ourself "just this once" is endless.

The trouble is of course is that rarely, if ever, it is just once.

Once we've made an excuse one time, it's easy for us to use it again.

We can avoid winter weight gain my remaining strict with ourselves, or 'disciplined.'

All you have to do is politely decline, and resist temptation. Continue to make good food choices and healthy diet amendments.

Let's not kid ourselves, it won't be easy. But it is necessary. And it will be worth it.

Have a plan for an occasional winter diet deviance

However, stick to the plan.

Banning all of our favourite junk foods and 'bad' treats rarely works. Often, we'll crave them more which leads to binges and diet regression.

Instead, plan for how and where you will deviate off your plan.

Be intentional about it - decide on the date, time, place and the food that you are going to splurge on.

Decided you're going to treat yourself to that favourite takeaway? Okay, deal.

But you have to be disciplined in the two weeks leading up to it. No cheating, or deviating from your plan. No extra treats or excuses.

Then, when the time comes, have the takeaway. Really enjoy it knowing it comes guilt-free. You've put in the work. The real payoff will come in time for Summer.

Once the treat is finished, get back on the plan. Set your next goal and decide again when, where and what you're next deviance is.

Having dietary discipline in this way will ensure you really enjoy your treats and you'll be less likely to waste your 'spare' calories on something that won't hit the spot.

It might be hard, but force yourself to keep moving during winter to avoid the weight gain

So far, we've tackled the 'eating more' side of winter weight gain.

Now we need to consider our movement, or lack thereof.

Exercise isn't optional. We should be moving regularly at all times throughout the year. The same is true for Winter as it is for Summer.

You probably know already, but exercising and moving around more is very effective at keeping excess weight at bay.

Furthermore, you don't even have to think in terms of losing weight. All you need to look to is avoid gaining weight. Maintain as you are.

If you can do that, you'll be in a much stronger position after winter.

Aim for some heart raising cardio 5 to 6 times per week, lift some weights if you can too.

Spring is around the corner and will be here before you know it. Let's face Winter together and tackle the weight gain head on, before it starts!

Paul Stokes Perth Personal Trainer Sports Nutritionist Group Fitness Instructor Massage Therapist

About the author

Paul Stokes

Paul Stokes BSc (Hons) is a Certified Personal Trainer, Accredited Sports Nutritionist, qualified Exercise to Music Instructor, Precision Nutrition coach, Massage Therapist and teaches 8 of the Les Mills Group Exercise programs.

He currently works in the Oil & Gas industry as a Wellness Coach, imparting his vast knowledge and experience to improve the quality of life of several hundred offshore workers.

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