Studies have revealed that more than 80% people gain weight during autumn and early winter, which shows that obesity has a definite link with the weather. In this article, we take a look at the causes of this seasonal variation in a person’s weight and also list out a few effective ways to avoid getting obese, particularly during autumn and winter.
Obesity – Increased Vulnerability During Autumn and Winter?
Some weight loss gurus believe that on an average, an individual gains about 5-7 pounds of weight during the winter vacations. While winter holidays do play a part in the weight gain of many children as well as adults, it’s not apt to put the complete blame on the break time. It’s how you utilize your free time that matters.
In addition, just like any other time of the year, the amount of physical activities or the lack of them is a deciding factor in your fitness. However, in order to control your weight and fight obesity, you need to be aware of the likely reasons for weight gain during winters. In this section, we’ll go over the five most common factors that lead to obesity during the autumn and winter break.
1.1. Holiday Partying and Unhealthy Eating Habits
Who doesn’t like to enjoy delicious recipes and cuisines such as a pot roast beef, barbecue or a deep fried bacon? Holidays without social and family parties are like food without spices. Feasting once in a while is alright and the body can digest the extra calories with a bit of additional workout or physical activity.
However, what hurts is an overdose of unhealthy foods that you take during your winter breaks. The studies indicate that an average person tends to take in over 40% extra calories in a party as compared to home. A continued overeating in the winter holidays leads to storage of large amount of fats in the body, thereby increasing your weight.
1.2. Inactivity Due to Laziness
Due to a lack of work and school pressure and in the absence of any compulsion to wake up early during the winter holidays, you tend to oversleep. The warmth of your cozy bedding and the cold and chilly temperature outdoors adds to your laziness. This increased inactivity is perhaps the biggest cause for the rise in obesity cases.
Coupled with the previously mentioned overeating and drinking habits, this lazy lifestyle aggravates your overweight problem. It’s also important to know that laziness and obesity almost always go hand in hand, one increasing the other and vice-versa.
1.3. Snow/Smog Reduces Outdoor Workout
Even if you wake up early and want to do some exercise, many a time, the weather plays spoil sport. The winter season brings with it either the nippy morning breeze or snow making it practically impossible for you to go out for a jog or a run. It’s a scientifically established fact that there’s a sharp increase in air pollution in cold climate. This pollution results in formation of smog, which greatly hinders the outdoor activities
1.4. Winter Clothing Hides Your Obesity
You tend to wear multiple layers of clothing and woolen pullovers, jackets etc to protect yourself from the winter cold. As the clothing keeps your body completely covered at almost all times, your weight gain goes totally unnoticed. Neither can you realize the aggravating problem yourself, nor can anyone else point it out to you till the next summer.
Alertness about a problem is the first step towards attempting to get rid of it. Since your obesity remains hidden, your alertness about the issue is also not there, which further enhances the complication.
1.5. Slowed Metabolism
In addition to all of the above mentioned causes, which are external to the body, there’s an internal reason for your weight gain during winters. It may sound a bit incredible, but it’s a scientifically proven fact that just like many other animals, even human body prepares for hibernation. It’s a process that’s ingrained in the genetic memory of all vertebrates through the evolution of 400 million years.
As the winters approach, the human brain signals the body to switch to fuel conservation mode in order to survive for longer periods with lesser food intake. This is achieved by reducing insulin production and storing fat; this insulin resistant state of body commences at the fall of winter and continues till the arrival of summer season.
With reduced metabolism, the body burns less calories, liver produces higher quantity of fat and stores it in various tissues for use during the perceived lean period; however, as the lean period never comes, this fat doesn’t get used and leads to weight gain and subsequently obesity. The decelerated metabolism combined with an increased intake of calories worsens the problem further.
How to Stop Weight Gain and Maintain Your Target Weight?
If you’ve been trying to lose weight, you’ll agree that maintaining a healthy weight after achieving it is more tough than losing weight in the first place. Most people who lose weight, find it almost next to impossible to maintain it and as a result, regain it back after some time. This is mainly because of the unsustainable regime that they followed to reach their target weight.
However, it’s possible to maintain a healthy body by inculcating a good exercise regimen in your daily routine, managing your diet and keeping the right frame of mind. Each of these factors play an important role in losing weight and keeping it in check. While diet restriction reduces your calorie intake, regular physical exercise increases calorie burning thereby shifting the energy imbalance in your favor. Lastly, it’s your mindset that decides whether you’ll regain the weight or not.
Remember that the primary reason for weight gain is energy imbalance in your body. A few of the most effective, time-tested and scientifically proven methods to lose weight and avoid regaining it are discussed in this section.
2.1. Diet Control
As mentioned already, it’s the energy imbalance in your body that’s the main cause of weight gain. This implies that the amount of calories that you’re putting into your body is much higher than what you’re utilizing. So, in order to lose weight, the first step is to restrict the energy intake by controlling your diet and cutting out unhealthy junk foods.
It doesn’t mean that you’ve to starve yourself or start any some super-restrictive diet plan. Having a number of small meals mostly consisting of high fiber vegetables and fruits and avoiding consumption of high-calorie food particularly just before bedtime can go a long way. Don’t indulge yourself very often and be choosy about your snacks.
2.2. Leave the Comfort of Your Room and Exercise Regularly
This is the other half of solution to energy imbalance issue. Regular exercise is necessary at all times, but its importance during winter break can’t be overemphasized. As seen already in the previous section, winter season brings with it additional fat as you tend to eat more and your body goes into energy saving mode. However, one of the challenges is to move out of your comfortable and cozy room to enter into the cold and at times excruciating winter.
It may sometimes not be possible to go outdoors due to the weather conditions. The best way to deal with the situation is to devise an exercise regime consisting of indoor workout. Start with light exercises and gradually increase the intensity and difficulty; it’s important to have a goal and to make it interesting so that you can maintain your focus. Although morning physical training is the best, you can choose another time of the day, which fits into your schedule.
2.3. Focus on Aerobics, Cardio and Supplement Them With Yoga
Your exercise schedule should include a minimum three hours of physical training every week, which could be 30 minutes each for six days. To further break it down, you must practice aerobics and cardio exercises for the optimum results. Winter may not allow you to undertake continuous rigorous physical activities, hence you should incorporate short bursts of rigorous exercises in between moderate aerobics, running or cycling.
The sudden bursts of exertion also assists to kick-start your slowed metabolism. You can also follow power-yoga to add variation to your regimen. Although the normal yoga training is not known to have a great impact on weight reduction, it can still be useful as it not only enables you to control your desires and stress levels, but also gives you a heightened awareness about your body. An ideal exercise schedule will combine aerobics or cardiovascular exercises with yoga.
2.4. Improve Your Blood Circulation by Using Massages.
Sometimes a blockage or an obstruction in the blood vessels can lead to problems in circulation. Blood circulation has an important role in the metabolic activities of the body. A good massage goes a long way in relaxing the muscles and tendons so that any constraint on the blood vessels gets released. Hence, a massage helps in improving the metabolism of your body.