As the weather starts to get colder, let’s face it, it does become harder to stick to a weight loss programme. We bunker down, exercise less, drink more and seek comfort in food. Gone are the days when we’re motivated by summer salads, evening walks and the fear of getting into those togs!! With shorter days and colder nights; the temptation of high calorie foods, more forgiving clothes, less social functions and more nights on the couch, can all contribute to derailing our weight loss journey.
Studies have even found that not getting enough Vitamin D (which is found in sunlight) can also add to weight gain.
But, don’t panic. With the right preparation, winter can still be a great time to lose weight.
Here are 8 tips for losing weight over winter...
1. Resist Comfort Eating
As the days get colder, it's tempting to reach for comfort food. But we all know from experience that what makes you feel good in the short term, can actually leave you feeling worse. Calorie rich food like pasta & apple crumble might seem comforting, but are full of empty calories. Carbohydrates do release serotonins, (which send happy signals to our brains), and sometimes carry pleasant childhood memories, so it makes sense that we crave them, but, after the high comes the crash and we actually end up feeling worse.
When you are tempted to reach for those high calorie foods remember the comfort they bring is fleeting. Instead seek out foods that are low in calories, but high in flavour. Avoid white carbohydrates (like rice, potatoes and bread) and instead choose food that nourishes your body - lean protein, winter fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices. You can get as much comfort from a vegetable tagine as you will from Mac and Cheese, but without the calories or the crash - so seek out some new recipes and plan ahead with your shopping list.
Also, brainstorm ways to comfort yourself that aren't food. A hot bath, a cosy rug, candles, a brisk walk through Autumn leaves - write down things that bring you comfort and try and do these things each day - especially on the days you are tempted to seek comfort in high calorie foods.
2. Enjoy Winter Vegetables
The onset of winter does mean fresh fruit and vegetables become a little scarcer and more expensive. But, there is still wonderful produce available and now is the time to explore new flavours and recipes. Don't forget that frozen vegetables are available all year round and are great in stews, soups and stirfries. They can lose some of their flavour during freezing, but add some extra herbs and spices and they can be a great, cheap addition.
Try to stay away from starchy vegetables (like potatoes and kumara) and instead try hearty winter greens like kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts.
3. Enjoy Soup
Soup is an amazing way to bring you comfort on a cold day but with very few calories. Soups are great on their own, but can also be used as a starter to help fill you up so you don’t overeat your main meal. Studies have shown that eating low calorie soup before a meal reduced total calorie intake by 20%.
A big batch of soup can also be made and frozen. A great alternative to takeaways on the nights you're too tired to cook.
Avoid creamy soups (which have lots of calories) instead try roasted pumpkin, cauliflower or tomato soups. Add lots of seasoning, salt and pepper, garlic, cumin or chilli to keep it interesting and flavoursome. A bowl of homemade tomato soup contains only about 200 calories - so great for filling up and keeping warm.
Check out our two gorgeous Soups - Tomato and Pumpkin. These are Formulated Meal Replacements, and can be used to replace your Smoothie when you need a change or warming up. You can also buy Essentials, nutritional powder to add to your homemade soup.
4. Keep Exercising
As the weather turns, it gets harder to get to the gym or go for a walk. The couch does look so warm and cosy. But, as we all know, keeping moving helps burn calories, but it also boosts your metabolism and your feelings of joy, which both help with weight loss. So, it’s important to find ways to keep exercising, even when it’s cold.
You don't have to head outside - there are great Youtube workout videos. A skipping rope, sprints up and down the stairs or some hallway lunges are also great ways to get that heart rate up and burn a few calories. Or put those headphones on and do some vigorous cleaning (60 minutes of moderate cleaning will burn 160 calories!!)
If you dress warmly it can actually be gorgeous to go for a brisk walk. So rug up and head outside. Not only is walking in the cold invigorating, but studies have shown that walking when it’s cold can burn 34% more calories than in warm weather. It helps if you can find a walking partner - having someone waiting for you on the corner of the street will really help your motivation.
5. Enjoy Hot Water & Herbal Tea
It can be hard when it gets colder to keep up the water intake. Water helps fuel your metabolism and to keep you full. Try drinking hot water with a slice of lemon, grated ginger or a few mint leaves. Herbal teas are also a great winter hero. They have very few calories and help warm you up and fill you up. Green tea and Rooibos tea have shown some links to weight loss and Camomile, Peppermint and Liquorice teas can help satisfy those mid afternoon sweet cravings.
6. Head to Bed Early
Make the most of the earlier morning sunlight by heading to bed early but getting up earlier. Morning sunlight has a great effect on your sleep cycle. Studies have found that waking up early means you are more productive and less stressed in the day. It also gives you more time to make a healthy breakfast or to exercise.
Heading to bed earlier also means that you are less inclined to late night snack.
7. Remember your WHY
Winter is the most difficult time to keep motivated with weight loss. This is why it’s essential to explore your personal reasons for wanting to lose weight.
If you haven’t already, check out our blog on discovering your WHY. Pinpointing your specific reason for wanting to lose weight is what will get you through when your motivation drops. Reminding yourself that you’re doing this so you; can play with your kids, feel good about yourself when you go out, look and feel great on your wedding day, tackle a health issue, for example, helps keeps you on track. Work out your WHY and write it down. Stick it up around your house - on your mirror, on the fridge, on the back door.
During winter it is especially important not to lose sight of your WHY.
8. Use the Time to Prepare for Summer
It might feel like winter will last forever, but summer is actually only a few months away. So today is the perfect time to start preparing your body for summer. Use this time to refocus your weight loss goals, develop new habits and start your journey towards the new you.