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Fun and Fitness: Winter weight gain

Rick Melo | Interrobang | Sports | October 17th, 2011

Last weekend was turkey weekend, and we were blessed with a sunny average of 27°C! Everyone got to see his or her families and we're all a tad plumper.

Thanksgiving is the ultimate eating holiday. You eat, and then you sleep. You wake up from your nap, and then you eat dessert. You watch TV for a bit and then you eat again. The next day, you either go to a relative's house or your boyfriend/girlfriend's family's place to eat more. Then you take home Tupperware full of leftovers and have turkey sandwiches for what seems to be the next month.

After Thanksgiving we've got Halloween — it's almost time for little Oh Henrys and Kit Kat breaks. After that, Christmas is just around the corner. This is the time for giving and the time for eating random foods and treats at multiple parties. Just to add insult to injury, it's almost wintertime, which leaves many of us playing video games and lounging around more than we normally would. We're all doomed or then again, maybe we're just in for a challenge that we face every year.

People usually have small seasonal fluctuations in weight. Although it's difficult to estimate, this may translate to about a three- to fourpound increase on average. Climate has a lot to do with it. Climate is literally in our faces and is always one of the most important environmental barriers to being physically active. Physical activity helps control weight gain, and the majority of people are less physically active during winter, particularly we poor chaps here in the "Great White North." Put simply, weight gain is about energy in and energy out. We take in energy with our diet and expend energy through physical activity. Physical activity and diet should balance each other out, and an imbalance can result in weight gain. So how can you prevent the pounds from packing on?

In winter, try not to change your diet. The winter season often leads people to eat more comfort foods rich in sugars and starches, further increasing the potential to gain weight. People may also feel less concerned about this weight gain during the winter months when public displays of the body are less likely. A loose sweatshirt, for example, easily conceals a few extra pounds. However, when the summer season kicks in, bringing along more opportunities to reveal the body — such as in a swimsuit or during a day at the beach — people tend to refocus their concerns about body image and as a result, refocus their outlook on nutrition. Of course, being active and having a good diet contributes to making the weight control game a hell of a lot easier.

If you think you're less active than you should be, look at how to build more activity into your winter days. Look for what will stop you from being physically active and how you can overcome those barriers. Take small opportunities to increase physical activity. Get into purposely making active choices such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator or taking a walk around the office instead of emailing people.

The key is getting into the habit of being active without really knowing it. It's not about doing anything drastic; it's about adopting a mentality of simple steps. All this winter talk may seem a little early, but we all know it's going to get cold real fast. With the cold comes more opportunity for excuses. Remember, moving your body for the sake of health and fitness only takes effort until it becomes habitual.
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