Winters seem to be the worst season for someone trying to control their weight! And I speak for myself too!
Although many might debate that one’s weight stays more or less constant, there is a large part of people who experience the winter weight challenge. Many find themselves heavier at the end of the winter, by a couple of kilos at least.
In India, and in most western countries, winter is the season of festivals and merriment. While we celebrate Diwali, Christmas, Thanksgiving and New Year holidays contribute a lot to the topic of discussion here. With festivals, come the rich, calorie-dense snacks, the family get-together, the parties and events celebrating the holidays. Besides, in the earlier days, the fried Chaklis, Karanji, and Anarase were a ‘once in a year’ treat, when you had toiled away in the hot sun all year through. But today, these snacks are available throughout the year, without even the effort of making them at home. We still gorge on these foods, not actually out of need, but partly due to customs, and partly for the memories associated with them. Same goes for the Ladoos and dry fruit preparations traditionally made in our households.
Lots of holidays mean a lot of staying at homes, and less of the daily commute to work, less of physical activity and more of sleeping late in the mornings. This directly means that we end up spending less than what we consume. Simple mathematics!
Our body works in miraculous ways and is constantly trying to maintain a balance. The most popular notion is that the human metabolism rate decreases in the winters. There are conflicting thoughts about this, however, what seems logical is that, along with the atmospheric temperature dropping, the body temperature may go down. Our body realizes this as a threat to survival and possibly speeds up metabolism. Now, the simple equation would be if metabolism is high, how does one gain weight? Don’t we try and increase the metabolic rate to lose weight? Unfortunately, that is not the way the human body is designed. There is a very fine tuning between the metabolic rate and the energy intake or output.
So, if the metabolic rate is high, obviously, the body will start using more energy stores. This is when the body gears up for stocking up on the lost stores and prepare for any further requirements. Without going into too many details, what may happen is this overdrive of energy storage results in extra storage, over and above the actual output or expenditure of calories. So this extra storage shows up on the weighing scale, triggering many a gym memberships on the First of January every year!
Thanks to global warming though, all our seasons are haywire, and we no more need to stock up. So it’s time to stop blaming the poor winters for our faulty habits, and understand the real hunger cues!!