Lounging poolside. Toes in the sand. Ice cold lemonade.
We’ve been daydreaming about summer ever since it ended. Though the weather may not reflect it, the season of beach bumming and bikinis will be here before we know it. As exciting as that sounds, it comes with a lot of pressure. Winter is generally the time where nutrition and exercise gets overlooked in favor of cookies and cozy nights indoors. This can cause excess weight gain that goes unnoticed under layers of clothes.
Don’t go blaming yourself for any added pounds. It’s a part of our biological behavior. We have an innate sense to hibernate and hide from the cold. It’s an instinct to stock up on food, especially warm meals that will increase our body temperature. In addition, the sun sets earlier which means shorter days and less time to spend outside. The lack of sun can even affect our hormones, energy levels and metabolism.
So with the holidays behind us and the winter fading into Spring, it’s time to treat our bodies in a more mindful way. It’s not too late to get your body back into shape for the summer. Luckily, our tips don’t involve any drastic change to your lifestyle.
1. Take Your Time
Extra pounds don’t all appear within a week, so there’s no need to expect them to come off in that amount of time either. The key to getting the body you want is by adapting a healthier lifestyle. Give yourself proper time to ease back into healthy living. Don’t forget to make time to relax, meditate and focus.
2. Avoid Fad Diets
Drastically changing your diet can cause more damage than harm. Physically you may not ingest all the nutrients you need. Mentally, you deprive yourself of food you want, which could result in a binge later. Instead of fasting or cutting out complete food groups, swap out certain foods for healthier options. For example, choose almonds for an afternoon snack instead of chips. Try eating greek yogurt and fruit for dessert instead of ice cream. Focus on adding as opposed to subtracting.
3. Get Some Sleep
Take advantage of the shorter days and get to bed! It is recommended that adults get 7-9 hours of sleep per night. Sleep restores your metabolism and keeps your digestive system on track. This sets you up for success for the next day.
4. Explore the Great Indoors
Cold weather stifles exercise, but not all activities need to be outside. Try moving more indoors to supplement the exercise you may be skimping out on. You can even bring the gym to you. Work out from the comfort of your own home with portable exercise equipment.
5. Don’t Forget to Drink
When it comes to your health, stick to the basics. Never underestimate the power of hydration. Try to drink at least 8 glasses of water each day. It’s good practice to drink a glass of water thirty minutes before a meal to help with digestion.
6. Plan Ahead
The best way to guarantee a good day is to plan for it beforehand. Pre-packing your snacks and meals for the day will ensure that you're sticking to your nutrition goals. Eating every few hours will keep your energy and blood sugar levels balanced. When you wait to eat, these levels can drop causing you to overcompensate for a skipped meal later. This can be completely avoided by always keeping snacks, like almonds or an energy bar, on hand.
7. Bask in the (Artificial) Sunshine
Unless you're lucky enough to live somewhere with sun all year round, you may have to find other ways to make up for the lack of light in your life - especially during the winter. If you find yourself feeling more down than usual during these months, you're not alone. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) effects 6% of Americans. This type of depression can cause a lack of energy and an impulse to fill up on more food, especially sweets. In addition to speaking with your doctor, light therapy boxes are an effective method to combatting SAD and keeping your health in check.
8. Look at the Bigger Picture
Whether you're trying to fit into the perfect purple string bikini or dead set on sculpting a 6-pack by June 21st, your health is what matters. Focus on a long-term healthy lifestyle and the winter weight will come off naturally. By changing the way you eat, exercise and take care of yourself now, you'll be all set maintain a healthy weight well in to the next winter season.