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8 Tips to Halt Winter Weight Gain
Use these simple steps to help prevent unnecessary weight gain this holiday season.

It's in our DNA to want to pack on pounds for the winter—resist the urge.

Sip hot herbal tea before a big meal to fill up sooner. Also, because you can’t gulp it, sipping hot tea will slow you down—a relaxation cue.”
Fall, the season of the harvest, is the time when winter weight gain creeps into our lives at a steady pace. Primal evolutionary survival mechanisms urge us to store fat when the temperature drops to keep warmer. With the days shorter and less sunlight to make vitamin D on our skin, Seasonal Affective Disorder can set in, with varying degrees, causing sadness and low-energy which trigger a desire for carbs and sweets. Then the holidays arrive to cheer us up around the winter solstice, ironically bringing more stress and oh, the dinners and parties replete with rich, calorie-laden cuisine, pastries and drinks (soothing that stress temporarily)—clearly, all the ingredients of a conspiracy.

We step on the scale in spring when we remove layers of clothing, naively expecting the pounds to have melted away. This whole cycle will repeat while perhaps some of the weight remains—next fall you might be starting with more weight!

Emotionally, all this weight is playing havoc with our self-esteem. We start feeling fat and unattractive, sucking in our abdomen when we pass by a mirror. It is hard to be romantic in the bedroom with our honey when we feel self-conscious and unhappy with our bodies saying things like, "Oh, no! Don’t turn on the light!" Soon skirmishes set off our daily conversations with passages such as, "Does my butt look big in this outfit?" No butts about it, we grow more sensitive and irritable when we pack on the pounds.

It is always easier to prevent than to treat. Here are eight tips to prevent winter weight gain:

1. Move your body. Exercise will generate core heat when you feel cold. Either get out there for a brisk walk, partake in winter sports or take your workout indoors. You can always turn on the music and move. Exercise raises your body temperature and releases happiness chemistry to warm your heart. You won’t need food to soothe.

2. Have more fun in bed with your spouse. Like exercise, sexual energy burns calories depending on how athletic you are, heats up the core and is better than chocolate.

3. Sip hot herbal tea before a big meal to fill up sooner. Also, because you can’t gulp it, sipping hot tea will slow you down—a relaxation cue. The warmth permeates your body and different flavors contribute to aromatic relaxation. Find your favorite.

4. Create a bedtime ritual to improve sleep. Quality sleep will facilitate weight loss because your body releases an appetite-suppressing hormone to thwart overeating. Also, don’t override your natural rhythm with light and technology. A warm bath with a cup of chamomile tea added to your bath water is a great muscle relaxant and stress-reducer.

5. Try a candle light meditation to infuse your spirit with fire and heat. Many couples like to meditate together for synergy. Sit comfortably and stare at a lit candle for one minute; then close your eyes for 3-5 minutes to see what heart-warming images come up for you. Perceived reality becomes reality.

6. Eat with the season. Switch to winter meals of rich stews, hearty peasant food made with beans and root vegetables, and chunky, thick soups to give you extra energy as well as keep you warm. You will feel full longer.

7. Get your omega. Eat salmon, walnuts, omega 3- enriched-eggs and other omega enriched products. Omega 3s lift your mood. Happy people don’t fill empty hearts with junk food.

8. Help your mind anticipate spring instead of dwell on winter! In the midst of winter you can plant some spring bulbs in colorful pots and watch them bloom in your house: tulips, crocuses, hyacinths, narcissus and daffodils. Or you can buy bulbs already in bloom at your local supermarket or garden center. Don’t forget the stress-relief of fresh cut flowers, which are always available and inexpensive.

Debbie Mandel, MA is the author of "Addicted to Stress: A Woman's 7 Step Program to Reclaim Joy and Spontaneity in Life," "Changing Habits: The Caregivers' Total Workout" and "Turn On Your Inner Light: Fitness for Body, Mind and Soul," a stress-reduction specialist, a radio show host and has been featured on radio/ TV and print media. To learn more visit: www.turnonyourinnerlight.com.

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