by Krystal Hawks, ETC blog contributor

Even though the days become shorter and the temperature drops, don’t make winter synonymous with weight gain. On average, Northerners can pack on more than seven pounds throughout the winter. That’s insane! Don’t let this be you…you can keep your summer body all year long with just a couple of tips and tricks!

First, let’s tackle the food!

 

Focus on eating whole, unprocessed foods. These foods will be nutrient dense, and will help you ward off hunger! For help finding whole foods, look at the ingredient list, the shorter it is, the healthier the food. Additionally, consider how much processing that food had to go through in order to be at the store? The closer it looks to how it was when it was picked off the plant or grown in the field, the healthier it will be!

Let yourself enjoy those holiday favorites, but keep MODERATION in mind! You can always have that secret recipe homemade cookie, but don’t let one turn into one pan. I know this is easier said than done, so try to pre-plan your foods for the day in the morning (when you have the most willpower), and prevent those blackout binges!

Treats and once-a-year casseroles are everywhere! Let others know your goals and keep them in constantly on your mind. Studies have shown when we eat socially, we mimic what others are eating. When going out to dinner, order first! That way, you’re less likely to add a side of fries, macaroni and cheese, AND a soda to your meal.

Drink water! Generally, women should be drinking a total of 2.7 liters (91 ounces) and men should be drinking 3.7 liters (125 ounces) of water a day from both beverages and foods combined. Fruits and vegetables have a high water content.  Choose these often to boost your water intake and help prevent illness and chronic disease!

Quick Tip: Try drinking a glass of water about 20 minutes before each meal, so you don’t mistake hunger for thirst.

Along with food at social events, there will, inevitably, be alcohol. Keep this in mind as you are planning out your day. Set a limit ahead of time.  Women should limit themselves to 1 drink per day and men should stick to 2 drinks per day.

Quick Tip: Try drinking a glass of water in between each drink to keep you hydrated, keep you from drinking too much, and help you avoid a nasty hangover.

Before going to all the festivities winter brings, make sure you fill up on fruits and veggies! That way, you won’t be starving and tempted to eat all those appetizers before dinner is ready.

Quick Tip: Eating fruits and vegetables while you’re hungry helps them go down more easily!

Besides overcoming all the food, winter poses a huge threat to our workout routines.

 

With the day becoming night earlier paired with the colder temperatures, being outside can be almost unbearable! It doesn’t have to stop all the progress you’ve already made!

Get creative indoors! If you aren’t a member of a gym or don’t want to become one, there are many other things you can do! Look up videos online, browse the home workout DVDs at the store or the library, get the kids (and their toys) involved and challenge each other to ‘Just Dance’ or Nintendo Wii Fit.

Try to venture outside anytime you can possibly stand it! The sunshine will boost your mood and being outside just might give you that alone time you’ve been needing. Looking for some family fun? Go ice skating, sled riding, hiking, or to the ski slopes; take advantage of the snow instead of dread it!

Don’t let the chaos of the holidays affect your sleep!

 

Sleep deprivation sparks cravings for high-calorie and high-sugared foods. Anticipate cravings ahead of time and plan your meals in advance before your willpower wears off.

Prioritize your to-do list. These babies can get longer than Santa’s nice list! Recognize that everything on your list falls into two categories: (1) they are all important and (2) more importantly, not everything has to be done that day! Pick the most time-sensitive ones to tackle first, and try your best on the rest!

Start your day with fitness, if at all possible! If you schedule it into the end of your day, life has a tendency of getting in the way. Do it as early as you can to prevent your workout from being disrupted, or worse, skipped.

 

At first, eating healthy and working out…while getting enough sleep…along with the rest of the things you already have to do…on top of the extra “holiday stuff” seems impossible. It will be hard (it’s supposed to, or else everyone would be doing it)! BUUUTT, it is manageable! Create a schedule that you will be able to regularly follow and constantly remind yourself why you started this lifestyle shift in the first place! Put reminders on anything and everything; seeing them daily helps with motivation.  Recognize your slip-ups and move on! There will be days when you can’t make it to the gym, you forgot your packed lunch, you feel sick and vegetables are the last thing you want to eat, and that’s okay! Remember, this is a lifestyle change that you will have for life, not a diet you will force for a couple weeks and then forget about and give up on. At the end of the day, we are all doing our best. Don’t give up. Love yourself. And #eatthechocolate.

Krystal is an undergraduate student at Kent State University studying Nutrition and Exercise Science. She has a passion for working out and making healthier alternatives to her family’s recipes. Her ultimate career goal is to become a Sports Dietitian and show active individuals the importance of a balanced diet, that it doesn’t have to be boring, and all the benefits of well-being and health!