Society has conditioned us to believe that there are ‘acceptable’ time periods in the year in which human beings can gain weight without being ridiculed profusely. One such time is… Da da daaaaaaaam, WINTER! Now, although I do have my own opinion with regards to the social construction of weight appropriate/inappropriate behaviours (note to elf: future rant post!) there is some truth here.
Many years ago human beings would eat more in the Winter months in order to protect themselves from the risk of famine. However, things have changed significantly since then as there is more than enough to go around at present! Therefore, this primitive need of ours is no longer an appropriate means to help us get through Winter. HOWEVER, that does not mean that the evolutionary microchip has disappeared, it is still very much ingrained into our brains.
It’s no surprise then that when Winter strolls in we get hungrier, more tired and a touch more lazy. The comfort foods seem far more appealing and that extra layer of fat doesn’t look too threatening hidden under 3 layers of warm clothing. This survival mechanism is no longer being used for survival but rather for indulgence and ultimately fuels our (funny enough) deeply ingrained self-hate speech when Summer rolls in. Reason being? We are no longer programmed to behave this way so when the season changes we do not simply ‘bounce back’ and return to how we were before. Most of the time most people will stress out about their weight gain AND comfort eat in order to ease that stress. This inevitably turns into self-loathing which turns into…. COMFORT EATING! And so the sick cycle continues…
Society has simply used this once adaptive behaviour as an excuse to gain weight in Winter. However, when Summer returns we are expected to just drop the weight. Not surprisingly, that does not happen.
Now, I wish I could just say ‘let’s fight our primitive instincts and NOT eat all the warm deliciousness that tempts us everyday.’ It is a bit harder than that unfortunately. However, we can adjust the way we respond to this instinct in such that we will nurture our bodies and our souls rather than force ourselves to by a new ‘voluptuous’ wardrobe.
1) Set a goal NOW! Don’t wait until Summer comes along to get into the gym to lose the ‘extra’ Winter weight or (for some) the excess weight from the previous Summer! Make a promise to yourself that you will do something that will facilitate that goal, hmmm maybe there’s a nice bikini/pair of jeans you’d like to show off sooner than later? Even add an incentive: ‘When I reach my goal by X date I will by myself those shoes/jeans I’ve been eyeing out.’ Feeling a bit more daring ‘When I reach that goal I’m booking myself that holiday I have been saving up for!’
2) Eat carbohydrates. Your natural instincts to eat more carbohydrate foods WILL kick in, so be prepared. Opt for healthier carbs. Try sweet potato, butternut, pumpkin or rye bread. Wanting more of a comfort meal? No problem, mash the sweet potato up for mash and if you add some hot water, stock and a blender you have soup! Slightly more indulgent? Go grab some whole wheat/rye pasta and have a tasty tomato based pasta dish loaded with veggies and protein. You can’t go wrong there, but just be careful of portion sizes.
3) Eat enough proteins. This Winter opt for the leaner cuts (chicken breast, ostrich, pork fillet, fish). Your body will be working overtime to keep you warm and energised and it will love you for the extra protein that you will give it. Vegetarian? No problem, try chickpeas, lentils, tofu and my favourite egg whites!
4) Your body is a fat burning machine in Winter! Seriously, it has to work like a beast to keep you warm which means that it burns more calories than usual. So, take advantage of this by giving it the right fuel to burn. By eating low G.I carbs, lots of proteins and the right types/amount of fats your body will ultimately go to your fat supplies and burn them as fuel! Overindulging only gives your body more excess fuel to burn. Of course, be careful not to overdo it here as calories are still calories.
5) Be aware of the difference between being hungry and being tired. Due to the shorter days and longer nights the body releases melatonin earlier. When we are tired we are likely to eat more/crave energy boosting foods as we may be feeling lethargic. Listen to your body and learn to tell the difference.
Set yourself up for success this Winter! Imagine how great you will feel when you reach that goal and believe that you can achieve it, the only one who will stand in your way is yourself.
~ Every possibility already exists ~