Avoid winter weight

It’s February. The month of love. The short month. The month of cold temperatures, last minute snow storms and just plain miserable weather. With the nasty conditions and biting cold, people are almost forced to stay inside. When inside, most people will find themselves sitting on the couch watching TV and snacking.

Sitting and snacking can be detrimental, especially to those who have a weight loss New Year’s resolution to uphold.

“Although seasonal weight gain varies from person to person, there have been surveys that show an average of a five to seven pound gain in weight in winter,” founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center Dr. Lawrence J. Cheskin said.

Cheskin said that the majority of people gain weight in the winter largely due to reduced exercise and increased eating.

But do not lose hope. There are ways to prevent, or offset, winter weight gain, and the best part is that avoiding the gain is a good way to stay entertained during the cold weather months.

The number one tip to avoiding winter weight gain, according to John Casey of WebMD, is to exercise, exercise, exercise. Exercise is a great way to lose that unwanted winter weight and a good way to stay active and amused.

“Setting a regular fitness schedule is the key to keeping weight off in winter,” Assistant clinical professor at Duke Medical Center Dr. Lisa Giannetto said. “Come 5 p.m., when its pitch black and cold out, you are a lot more likely to go to your warm home and watch TV if you don’t have a regular fitness schedule that includes a variety of types of exercises.”

At Liberty, there are plenty of ways to stay active during winter months. Intramural sports are just starting up, and signups are going on through this week. There are plenty of indoor sports, like basketball, volleyball and soccer, to stay active and still out of the cold weather.

There are also classes at the LaHaye Student Center each day of the week. Some of these classes include cycling, yoga and pilates. These classes are great to take with friends, and the best part is that they are all free as a student.

Another tip Casey had for avoiding winter weight is to practice calorie damage control, meaning making up for overeating.

“If you do overeat, don’t ‘fall off the wagon,’” clinical instructor of medicine at Emory University Dr. Scott Issacs said. “Make up for it by cutting your calories for a few days and adding extra exercise.”

Some ways to get some extra exercise without setting up camp in the gym is to walk from DeMoss to Campus North instead of taking the bus, or taking the stairs from the ground floor to the third floor instead of the elevator.

Cutting calories can be difficult, especially for college students, but it can be done. Watch the calorie intake of each meal of the day and eat foods like celery to fill up without increasing calorie intake.

Cheskin said that the main thing to remember when avoiding winter weight is to have fun. Exercise with friends, keep workouts fun and interesting and learn to cook healthier foods. And when celebrating during the winter months, fun is the best reminder to not overeat.

“The main reason you’re at a party is to see people and celebrate, not to eat a lot of high-calorie foods,” Cheskin said. “So be aware of why you’re there and make that your focus.”

Do not lose hope when it feels as though the winter weight will never leave. Winter will be over soon, and avoiding the winter weight gain can be a lot of fun.

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