Tips to manage your weight and health during the winter months
During the summer, your body is like burning coal, ready to consume more fuel. Your inner heat is alive and you are much more active so you tend to release that internal fire. Many people naturally lose weight in the summer due to increased activity and energetic release, only to put the pounds back on as it gets colder, when holiday confections and feasts often become the norm — and an excuse for unhealthy eating.
Balanced and healthy eating involves being mindful of how your body is reacting and interacting with the external environment.
It isn’t about suddenly switching gears when the season changes. Your body doesn’t need a jolt of cayenne pepper and spicy meals every day just because it’s chilly outside at night. Instead, your body needs to move with the change slowly, gradually adding spicier, warmer, and often darker foods. To ease into this transition into cooler weather, lower energy, and reduced body temperature, consider the tips below:
- Instead of a cold breakfast, eat a warm breakfast of yogurt, organic grain cereal, and fruit, with super foods like flax seed, chia seeds, or goji berries.
- Trade cold salads for meals like veggies sautéed in turmeric, garlic, and other highly aromatic, health-benefiting herbs.
- Increase lean protein intake so your body isn’t fighting too hard to hold onto nutrients.
- As the desire for decreased physical activity sets in with the cold, instead of closed doors and premature artificial heating, continue to plan activities outside, like biking through parks or walking in the woods.
- Allow your body to cool with the environment by slowly adding warmer clothing to your daily attire instead of quickly adding thick fabrics, coats, and layers.
- Make sure to stretch your body every day so that your muscles, blood, and bones stay warm, activated, and flexible.
- Slowly reduce your carbohydrate, sugar, and yeast intake if you haven’t already. You might have been able to eat unhealthy meals and confections in the summer without weight gain, but your body isn’t going to burn off as many calories in cold weather. Choose whole grains, natural sugars, and flat breads. Plus, if you cut down the carb intake before the holiday gatherings begin, the occasional increased intake of high carb and high calorie foods will be easier to digest and balance throughout the season.
- Practice self-massage at least three times per week and get a professional massage at least once per month. Massage increases blood flow and keeps fat deposits from being stored. Mahanarayan oil, an ancient Ayurvedic oil for muscles and joints, is an excellent choice for warming and healing.
- Once you feel your inner coals becoming cold, it’s time to add that cayenne pepper to your meals, and to make meals like spicy vegetarian chili a regular part of your diet.
- Keep the air cleansed and humidified with an essential oil diffuser. Cold, stale air only adds to lethargy and ‘comfort food’ cravings. Choose essential oils with enlivening aromatherapy scents like cinnamon, frankincense, and bergamot to uplift your spirits and perk-up your home space during colder months.
- Most importantly, push through decreased energy levels and make (or keep) cardio activity a part of your life throughout the year — even if you need to spring for that nice elliptical machine before spring comes around, or travel to a yoga class in the snow. Every time you touch your toes, squat, or do an arm rotation, your blood flow and inner warmth activates.
Slowly shifting your food choices to be in tune with the season isn’t about restriction: It’s about enjoying the benefits of moderation and communing with your body over time. Mind-body awareness is essential to making good seasonal food choices. During the winter, your body gives you signals to let you know you’re in conservation mode. It’s your job to let your mind receive these messages so you can adapt to them in a culture of plenty. This awareness is key to healthy eating and activity that will lead you to mindful weight management — whatever the weather is outside.
>You may also enjoy reading Beliefs, Behaviors and Body Fat, by Dana James