Top Five Ways to Avoid Cold Weather Weight Gain

It’s no secret that people tend to fall into less than healthy eating and fitness habits as the weather turns colder. Motivation to hit the gym wanes and tempting treats seem to be everywhere. Between halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah and all the social events that surround these there are plenty of excuses to indulge.

The truth is it’s much easier to prevent weight gain than to be in a position where you have a few extra pounds to lose. Plus, who doesn’t want to look good and feel confidant in their halloween costume and during the holidays while catching up with family and friends?

Studies show that adults tend to gain one or two pounds between November and January. This doesn’t sound like much but the issue is that many people don’t lose that weight and it accumulates over time.

Whether you’re a professional who’s job is to help others stay healthy, or you’re trying to manage your own weight here are the top five ways to avoid cold weather weight gain:

1. Treat exercise like an appointment. Leaving work after sunset is a reality for most people after day light savings time rolls around, and we turn the clocks back. The shorter days combined with lack of sunlight can be demotivating. It’s tempting to skip the gym and head home to the couch but do that enough and it’ll certainly add up. Treat your planned workouts like any other can’t-miss meeting or appointment and you’re more likely to stick with a routine. Write them in your day planner, iPhone calendar or whatever is most likely to help you commit.

2. Sleep more.  It make seem counterintuitive to rest when your to-do list is mounting, but sleep is a key component to maintaining a healthy weight. Research shows that sleep deprived people are more likely to indulge in high calorie and fattening foods. In fact in one study when subjects were lacking quality shut-eye potato chips and sweets stimulated stronger responses in a part of the brain that helps govern the motivation to eat.  Food is that much more tempting when we’e overtired and lacking willpower.

3. Be Picky. Decide which indulgences are worth it and what you can do without. Enjoy the special treats but avoid developing a decadent dessert every night habit just because it’s cold out. At parties skip the stuff that you can have anytime, and choose the special once-a-season treats. For me, I enjoy my mother in law’s rich chocolate, caramel covered pretzels once or twice a year around the holidays and enjoy every bite. The candy bars and packaged stuff that’s available all year just isn’t worth the extra calories.

4. Weigh yourself regularly. Unwanted weight is less likely to sneak up on you if you’re tracking it. You don’t need to be obsessive but a weekly weigh in is a good idea. 

5. Wear fitted clothes. Oversized sweaters, roomy pants and changing into your sweats after work can leave you feeling… well, relaxed. Sure, it’s nice to unwind and get cozy but your comfortable clothes make it easier to overeat, and gain weight without realizing it. Ladies, this isn’t the time to put away the skinny jeans. And guys should keep tabs on that belt buckle. Assessing how your more form fitting clothes feel is a good strategy to make sure you aren’t gaining unwanted weight.

These small efforts can add up to big results and help prevent cold weather weight gain.


Beth Funari is a Sports Performance and Personal Trainer with a passion for helping people meet their goals and feel their personal best. She enjoys creating delicious & healthy recipes, designing quick & effective workouts for her busy clients, reading in bed and traveling with her husband.