Winter is an inviting season for sedentary habits. Think about it: it’s cold outside and warm inside. Plus, it has festivities that encourage you to indulge — we’re looking at you, Christmas. After all, who doesn’t like to seek comfort and curl up watching a TV show while munching on holiday cookies?
One of the main reasons behind this issue, believe it or not, has to do with evolution. And, if you think about it, it makes sense. Our ancestors never had to deal with being overweight and being underweight was dangerous. That explains this in-built urge to eat during this cold season. There’s also something else to consider here: our ancestors need to stack up food for winter. The freezing temperatures outside made life impossible, which means that, just like plenty of animals, we as a species needed to have food in hand during this period.
Speaking of cold, temperature also plays a crucial role here: eating is one way that your body warms itself because it’s looking for more energy. Plus, the days are shorter. Lack of vitamin D can contribute too to weight gain. Colder temperatures are also associated with less water consumption, and we know how much water can help one lose weight.
Despite this being a festive season, winter is linked to depression, unhappiness. Studies show that we tend to eat more sugary food when we’re unhappy. We also tend to eat more when we’re stressed. That’s because of something called cortisol, a stress hormone. Think of it as nature’s built-in alarm system. This season can be stressful, and high cortisol levels will make you eat more.
Finally, during the festivities, we tend to put a halt to physical activities. That, as we know, can also lead to weight gain.
Why are you actually eating? You’re already a step further than most by knowing that overeating during winter is an evolutionary tendency. You can go a lot easier on yourself and become more self-aware of your body’s innate desire for All Of The Gravy over Christmas. It’s just your primal mind trying to look out for you – say thank you, but you’ll survive absolutely fine without that extra pudding.
We might be a little biased — just a little though— but joining a gym is the most effective way to keep your training flowing during this winter season. We have a state-of-the-art fitness club with innovative equipment, an app with plenty of workouts and personal trainers who’ll help keep you on track through winter and beyond. If, after this compelling effort, you’re still not convinced, we offer plenty of free exercise videos & articles on our blog that you can use to stay in shape.
As mentioned above, the stress hormone (cortisol) influences our food intake and expenditure of energy. They’re shown to increase the chances of us reaching for something fatty and sugary, as well as adding weight to our mid-sections. Working out and meditating are great ways to reduce stress. A walk in the park can also do wonders for it. The lesson here is taking the time out when you need it, asking for help, and getting plenty of sleep.
Another way to increase your cortisol levels is by depriving yourself of calories. Your body is under stress when it doesn’t get the intake it needs (which can lead to weight gain anyway – see above). So, instead of obsessing over calories, fill up on hearty, healthy whole foods. More protein (to prevent muscle loss and help keep weight down), less sugar (often a trigger for fat storage), and fibre-rich foods to keep hunger at bay.
The infamous “cheat day” is a good idea because you can use them for festive events and parties, indulging without guilt before getting back on track with your fitness routine the day afterwards. If you keep point 1 in mind at all times, you’ll most likely have that holiday cookie if you want it – you just won’t have six of them. Food doesn’t have power over you. Stay present. Commit to your goals. And have a wonderful worry-free winter.