Monday, September 23, 2013

How to Combat Seasonal Weight Gain

The days are a little cooler, the leaves are beginning to show their brilliant colors, it’s Autumn in New England, my favorite time of the year. It’s time for football games and the World Series. Halloween is just around the corner and before long it will be the holidays with Thanksgiving dinner and Christmas treats. What’s not to love about this time of year? It’s the extra 5 lbs. of weight gain, that’s what’s not to love! Come New Year’s, it’s resolution time, the time to get rid of the extra weight. 

So what is behind this seasonal phenomenon? Some people blame it on darkness, some on cold, and others on SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Seasonal changes have been demonstrated in levels of Melatonin, Serotonin, Tryptophan, and Vitamin D all of which may play a role in tilting the balance of “calories in” over “calories out” - the driving force behind weight gain. Whatever the underlying causes, the end result is less exercise and more food consumption - especially carbohydrates. Cookies, cakes, and pies are loaded with carbohydrates, so is alcohol. Tired of having to loosen your belt? So am I. So this year, let’s try something different. Let’s not gain those extra lbs.

Here are five easy ways to prevent seasonal weight gain:

  1. Let’s talk about food. We know carbohydrates lead to obesity and in the fall we seem to crave them more and there are plenty more of them around than at other times of the year. So try to eat more protein, whole grains, fruits, and vegetables especially early in the day. A healthy breakfast will keep you satisfied all morning and help prevent weight gain. For an afternoon snack, try an apple, they are in season this time of year and they are both healthy and delicious. If pasta is calling you for dinner, try a whole grain brand such as Barilla Plus and make a sauce with more olive oil and less sugar.
  2. Exercise or lack thereof is perhaps the biggest cause of seasonal weight gain and therefore the solution. When you get out of work and it is cold and dark all you want to do is snuggle up with a blanket and some comfort food but you can resist this if you are proactive and establish a routine. Just insert 30-40 minutes at least 3 times a week to strength training and fill in the rest with some cardio and problem solved. Strength training increases muscle mass, which bumps up the metabolism and burns more calories. 
  3. Change your routine to burn more calories. Try taking a fast walk at lunch that will get you outside and exposed to more sunlight. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Park your car on the far side of the mall parking lot. Go for a stroll after dinner. Every little bit counts. Remember, an extra 100 calories burned or saved each day will result in 10 lbs. of weight loss in a year. 
  4. Let’s talk about alcohol. A glass or two of wine, especially red wine is considered healthy but after that it just piles on the calories. If you normally drink two glasses a day try to nurse one glass longer. That will give you that 100 calories all by itself. When you are tailgating or attending a holiday party, have a glass of water in between cocktails. It will help you to pace yourself. 
  5. Embrace the outdoors. There is so much to do in spite of the cold and the dark. Bundle yourself up and head for the hills and mountains. Hiking, skiing, and snowshoeing will invigorate you and burn calories. Most ski areas now have night skiing under the lights or buy a headlight and off you go. Find someone you care about to join you. There is nothing more romantic than a moonlit walk on freshly fallen snow. 
Try these five tips and you will be amazed at how great you look and feel. Remember, the choice is yours: get heavy or get healthy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

6 Reasons to Lift Weights NOW!

Lifting weights can improve your health, no matter your age or gender. In fact we are constantly learning new benefits of weightlifting. And you don’t have to bench press 350 pounds to see those benefits. You can see results in lifting a 5 pound dumbbell! 


Weight training will:

1.) Help you lose more fat… even at rest. Muscles burn more calories than fat. So even at rest you are burning more calories to help you keep the weight off for good.

2.) Your clothes will fit better. One pound of fat takes up more space than one pound of muscle (18-20%)… so even though pound for pound muscle weighs more, it’s lean, tight and takes up less space!

3.) Curb the effects of Sarcopenia ( age related muscle loss) and help protect your heart while also preventing type 2 diabetes!

4.) Improve your balance… you may not notice it… but as you age you start to lose your balance and it is largely related to muscle loss. Gaining back muscle strength means you are less likely to fall and injure yourself.

5.) It will strengthen your bones. All adults, but especially women need to protect their bones from osteoporosis. Exercising with weights is one of the best ways to maintain strong healthy bones.

6.) Improve your self-confidence and motivation. You can see results in just a few weeks which can impact your self-image and motivate you to get in shape and stay in shape.

Weight training 2-3x per week on alternating days is all it takes to see real results. Even light weights will have a dramatic impact on how you look and feel! So grab some dumb bells today and get started. What are you waiting for?