My weight loss has stalled, I go up a pound or two and then down. I feel like I’m losing my grip on the battle. I keep asking myself why has this gotten so difficult, a few months earlier I felt like I had it all under control. This time of year has always been a struggle. It all starts with Halloween and continues through New Year with all the celebration centered around food, and I find myself asking why and searching for answers. After doing some research I feel like I have found an answer.
The average person gains about 2 to 4 pounds during the winter months. Well, I’m not average because I have been known to put on a good 20 pounds or more during the winter. We are genetically programmed to increase fat storage in the fall to survive through the winter of feast or famine. For our ancestors this was important for survival, but for us the famine never comes. This phenomenon is known as thrifty gene hypothesis.
As the days become shorter and we live in so much darkness the hormone melatonin increases and we feel sleepy and it also plays a role in our appetite. That explains why I just want to hibernate during the winter and eat comfort foods. In the winter it’s cold, wet, dark and we tend to develop lower levels of happiness, it’s called ennui. We use comfort foods for a pick-me-up. Well that pretty much describes me. The researchers suggest to increase Vitamin D by eating oily fish, get 20 minutes of sunlight exposure on our skin. Keep a food journal, think about everything you put in your mouth and ask yourself why you are eating, and exercise throughout the winter.
It was such a help to discover this. I think I have always known this and have used it as an excuse, but the research put it all into perspective. Because knowledge is power, I know how to combat this battle and survive the winter months without my usual weight gain. I will eat to live, not live to eat.
Of course I will celebrate all the holidays, but I can make better choices, like no seconds, chew gum so I will not snack while I’m cooking, and send the leftovers home with my guests. I will try some new tricks to stay motivated. Go to my meetings for accountability and support. Continue to exercise and I might purchase a happy light and see if that helps with the lack of sunshine that prevails during the long winter months in the Northwest.