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How can I avoid winter weight gain?

The winter months can bring on new challenges in staying motivated to work out - shorter days, colder temperatures, snow, rain etc., can make it harder to get outside. It can also be tempting to overindulge in food and drink when attending holiday parties.

Here are some tips to help avoid gaining weight during this winter season:

  • Get outside regardless of the weather - dress in layers, hats, gloves, waterproof jacket - getting out into the elements can be invigorating!
  • Take a lesson in a winter sport… skiing, ice skating… or even playing in the snow with the kids!
  • Stick to your routine - join a class at a gym, walk the mall, use workout videos if you prefer staying indoors.
  • Take a good look at the food options at parties before you start filling your plate - being mindful of making healthy choices.
  • Fill your cocktail glass with water and lemon after the first drink.
  • Make hearty low-fat soups with lots of vegetables that become available during the winter - pumpkin, yams, sweet potato, zucchini, squash.

Ruth Frechman
Nutrition & Dietetics
With less hours of daylight in winter, some people will get less physical activity and gain weight. When it's cold and dark, 7 pm may be pj time. Avoid the temptation to snuggle under a quilt and watch television. If it's too cold to go outside, find other ways to be active. Try a dance dvd or buy a ping pong table for the basement. As long as you are motivated, there are many ways to stay active in the winter.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)

In addition to holiday parties, winter brings a host of other temptations that can ruin your diet plans. Even more, the cold weather deters us from exercising. So outside of parties, here are some more tips to prevent winter weight gain.

First, think before you drink. Don't waste all of your daily calories drinking that fancy pumpkin spice latte or peppermint mocha topped with whipped cream. To warm up on a cold day, stick to the basics like regular coffee, tea, or a hot dark chocolate made with skim milk.

Second, don't forget to sleep! With a busy schedule of holiday shopping and parties it can be easy to forget to squeeze in time for some night time Zs, but research has shown that men and women who got a full night's sleep (eight hours) were generally thinner than those who didn't.

Finally, maintain your exercise routine. I know it's difficult in the cold, dark weather, but it's the key to keeping off those winter pounds. Better yet, take advantage of the snow and add some fun winter sports to the mix, like cross country skiing, snow shoeing, and even ice skating.

If you live where it's cold, it can be difficult to include enough physical activity and may be prone to overeating when you naturally want to stay indoors more.

Here's what you can do to stay on the weight-loss track:
  • Play in the snow. Varying your workout with wintertime activities is a great way to beat exercise boredom. Try cross-country skiing, ice skating, or snowshoeing.
  • Change the terrain. If you walk in your neighborhood, try reversing your route or take the trails at a local park. If the weather keeps you indoors, try a new class at the gym.
  • Switch your snacks. A salad may satisfy in the summer, but consider a hot, hearty bowl of vegetable soup for winter.
Weight Watchers offers a comprehensive approach to weight loss that can help you reach your goals.
Judy Caplan
Nutrition & Dietetics

Find other ways to comfort yourself than hibernating inside. Think of fun outdoor activities like snow shoeing, skiing, or walking. If the cold bothers you, walk the mall. Instead of baking, experiment with fun, vegetable laden soups. Limit your carbs each day and find an indoor exercise class you love.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.