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Winter Weight Gain - What to do about it!

Okay so you've put on some weight during the Winter - especially around the Xmas Holidays.

But now it is February and its time to start thinking Spring - and Summer is mere months away!

Isn't it convenient how the holidays are right before New Years? Not really, because most people break their New Years Resolutions in the first 2 weeks - and a bunch of people will never even start! After indulging for a few days they eventually just forget about any resolutions they might have had... and then in March they start to panic when they realize the weather is getting warmer and they've gained 10 or 20 lbs during the winter and have done nothing to shed it.

If you are one of those people who gain weight every Winter and then - hopefully - lose it by Spring/Summer then I have a little advice for you - Start exercising now! Because the older you get the more difficult it will be keep up that routine. Yes, the idea of resolutions are quite motivating, but if you don't actually DO them whats the point?!

So its time to accelerate your weight weight loss - start thinking in terms of the following: Exercising 1 hour per day is only 4% of your day. And that is all it takes to make a huge difference in your waistline.

TIP #1. Increase time and/or intensity

If you have already been exercising, and your calorie intake has been greater than expenditure, then your usual workout routine will not speed up the weight loss process because you're eating too much junk and not exercising enough. You need to pick up the pace for a week or two.

Ways to do this? Keep the amount of workout time the same, but increase the amount of reps you do by taking less breaks between exercises. If you're lifting weights, decrease the weight but increase the reps a lot. eg. Lets say you are usually lifting 20 lb weights during your exercises and you do 30 reps at a time. Decrease the weight to 15 lbs, but lift 50 reps instead. Doing the math that is 20 x 30 = 600 Vs 15 x 50 = 750. That simple change increases the intensity by 25%. You won't build muscle as quickly, but you will burn fat faster by increasing the reps dramatically. (Weightlifting doesn't really work to burn fat that well unless its more like aerobics with weights added.)

Alternatively, if you have the extra time to exercise longer, then do so. Increase the amount of time you exercise by 25 to 50% longer than your normal workout and use that time to do more cardio / aerobic activities.

TIP #2. Change Your Workout

Many personal trainers (including myself) advise that surprising the body into sudden changes is something to be considered all year around. Sticking to the same routine every time you work out results in plateaus wherein you end up maintaining a specific weight and you aren't challenging yourself any more. If you want to see progressive results then you need to be constantly changing and progressing your workout to a higher level.

This works with sports too. Someone new to boxing won't be able to do 15 three-minute rounds - they just won't have the stamina for it. That is something for professional boxers only. Amateur boxing matches for teenagers start at 3 rounds, with 1.5 minutes per round... and depending on their age can go for up to 4 rounds at 2 minutes per round. (Amateur boxing has a lot of rules.)

TP #3. Detox Time!

Cut out smoking, alcohol, caffeine and anything containing toxins. At least until you achieve your weight loss goals.

Nutrition plays a big role in accelerating your weight loss and intaking toxins will only slow down your progress. Your body stores toxins in fat cells and then refuses to use those fat cells because your blood toxicity is too high - thus making "Stubborn Fat" that refuses to go away no matter how hard you exercise. The only way to get rid of it is to detoxify.

It is not simply a matter of avoiding sweets, rich cheese, crackers and big dinners, the weight will start to drop if you can watch your calories and remove your intake of toxins. Start by going on a "mini detox diet" wherein you stop eating junk food and avoid cigarettes/alcohol and caffeine for at least 5-7 days. If you can go longer than that, do it. The first three days will be the hardest if you are a cigarette smoker / alcoholic, but once you get over the three day hump you can do it.

To help you detoxify faster eat more green vegetables, as the alkaline in the greenery will help neutralize the toxic elements in your blood. Go lighter on carbohydrates too and aim for more protein (eggs, lean meat) in your dishes to make up for it. Drink plenty of water and green tea, and don't wait until you are starving to eat. Instead eat lots of healthy snacks as often as you can.

eg. I never get tired of carrot sticks. I am eating some right now.

TIP #4. Open the Window Drapes and Go Outside More

Vitamin D from the Sun kickstarts your metabolism, gives you more Happy hormones and causes your body to stop storing so much fat. The simple act of opening the window drapes really wide so you get more sunlight on your skin helps you to lose weight. Going outside and getting more sun helps even more.

You can also get more Vitamin D by eating various foods like fish, eggs and mushrooms - or take Vitamin D supplements. See my post Vitamin D, Essential for your Winter Diet.

TIP #5. Take Up a Winter Sport

Get ice skating lessons in Toronto, take up snowshoeing, snowboarding, cross-country or downhill skiing, go tobaggoning with friends, go jogging on any day that it isn't snowing, do volunteer work, shovel snow from your driveway AND your neighbours driveways - basically do anything that gets you outside and exercising so you get both more exercise and more Vitamin D in your system.

TIP #6. Get a Part Time Job that gets you Exercising Outside

Nothing is more motivating than getting paid to exercise. It might be simple like holding a sign and directing traffic around construction workers on the roads, or you might be painting houses or moving furniture. Either way if it gets you outside more often and gets you working hard you will see the benefits both in weight loss and muscle growth.

TIP #7. Go for Walks with your Camera

Snow is beautiful. So is ice. Take your digital or old manual camera and go for a walk. You can make art and get exercise at the same time.

TIP #8. Become an Ice Sculptor

Another way to get exercise in the winter (and make art) is to make ice sculptures. It doesn't have to be fancy or professional. It might be a funny looking snowman or Lady Godiva on horseback... it doesn't matter so long as you have fun doing it.

TIP #9. Hire a personal trainer!

Seriously. If you live in Toronto and you have $30 you can spend on a personal trainer once per month, hire one so you can an once per month session which will help keep you focused, exercising and motivated. Think of it like a monthly checkup and in 3 months you will be seeing results from the extra advice and motivation.

TIP #10. Get your Bicycle out of the Snowbank ...

And clean it! No time like the present. Get it cleaned up and ready for Spring so the first warm day you can go cycling ASAP. You can even take it to your local Toronto bicycle mechanic and they will clean it, repair it and store it for the rest of the winter until you are ready for it again.

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