Winter Warriors

Road Less Travelled

By Terri Windover, Connect Contributor

Local personal trainer Andrew Bambury and his dog Jessie. Supplied photo

Local personal trainer Andrew Bambury and his dog Jessie. Supplied photo

Every year, it’s the same, winter hits, our activity level drops off and “all of a sudden” it’s spring and when we try on our summer clothes we immediately start weeping as we frisbee the scale out the window in despair. Here are a few ideas to help you prevent that seasonal weight gain that haunts so many of us.

Your carb cravings skyrocket when the days get short.
How to fix it: Snack on healthy carbs in the afternoon before the sun goes down to prevent binging later. Winter can trigger cravings for comforting, sweet carbs because less sunlight during the season makes serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin is a mood-lifting chemical, and if you have too little this leaves you feeling tired and hungry. In response your brain makes you crave carbs because after you eat them, your serotonin level rises.

Put yourself in a good mood during the dark days of our northern winter by eating low-fat, healthy carbs, such as sweet potatoes, oatmeal with a sprinkle of brown sugar or Way Better Chips. Because cravings tend to grow stronger as the day goes on, try to eat protein, dairy products, and vegetables for your early and mid day meals.

Then have a low-fat carb snack with protein, such as popcorn, healthy crackers, or cereal, along with a protein shake in the afternoon. Another slimming strategy that may help put the brakes on binges is to spend at least 20 minutes a day outside or near a bright window to amp up your serotonin. This will help you avoid S.A.D symptoms, a real issue in the north with our lack of winter sunlight.

‘Tis the season for big sweaters
How to fix it: Choose layers that leave a little bit of your silhouette intact. The first thing I tell people who are trying to lose weight is to avoid baggy clothing, as you won’t be able to see the changes in your body. It’s no surprise that your comfy sweater may increase the chance you’ll skip your workout, since it keeps soft spots under wraps. There’s also a subconscious association between baggy clothes and lounging. To help break the lazy spell, pick sweaters in bright colours. Some research suggests that these colors zap your senses and energize you.

You’re too comfy on the couch to break a sweat.
How to fix it: Don’t settle on your sofa until you’ve done your workout that day. It’s a motivation killer. Change from your work clothes directly into workout wear when you get home. Let’s face it, if you change into jammy pants, wild horses won’t get you off the couch later. Still can’t peel yourself off the cushions? Stash small weights, a mat and resistance bands under the seat to remind yourself to get active during commercials. Or try this simple at home, equipment free routine below. Do these moves during commercials rather than fast-forwarding and repeat the circuit until your show starts up again.

10 squats
10 push-ups
15 crunches
15 seconds of high knees

Your body’s chemical switch has flipped to storing more fat.
How to fix it: Get your motor running. In cold months your production of ATLPL, a chemical that promotes fat storage, can almost double through no fault of your own. But you’re not doomed to don fat pants all season. 30 minutes of exercise may increase SMLPL, the muscle enzyme that promotes the burning of fat, to offset the fat-promoting effects of ATLPL. Getting that 30 minutes of exercise on most days, whether it’s spinning, snowshoeing, or building a snowman will be a huge help at keeping off the winter weight.

A snowfall derails your usual outdoor workout.
How to fix it: Don’t be hating on old man winter so much. Snow increases the calories burned for each step you take. Example: A 30-minute moderate walk on an even surface burns 106 calories for the average 140-pound woman. Snowshoeing for the same amount of time more than doubles the burn, to 256 calories. Runners can safely run through the winter season by employing these strategies from the pros.

1. Invest in a trail-running shoe with deeper tread as they have better traction or buy a set of winter cleats, such as Yaktrax which slip on over your running sneakers.

2. Listen to your body: Run slower and take shorter strides. If you use your normal stride, your calves will be sore the next day, as you tend to claw the ground with your toes to keep your footing. Not much is worse than having to walk like the keep on trucking dude.

3. Skip the hills. More falls happen on downhills, because you naturally tend to pick up your pace, making it harder to stop when you hit an icy patch. The good part about this is that there are plenty of flat areas in our city to choose from.

Cool ways to torch calories for 30 minutes in the winter:
Calories burned are based on a 140-pound woman.
Building a fire: 80
Having a snowball fight: 96
Ice-skating: 176
Shoveling snow: 192
Skiing (cross-country): 256
Skiing (downhill): 192
Sledding: 224
Snowboarding: 192

I hope this helps you enjoy your winter and stay active. For more fitness and nutrition information, visit

– Connect Weekly –