8 Reasons We Tend to Gain More Weight in the Winter [Episode #742]
This week’s topic is: 8 Reasons We Tend to Gain More Weight in the Winter
It’s important to understand the factors at play here, why so many of us tend to gain a couple extra pounds or more in the winter just because of different factors, both in our environment, in our home, and what’s going on outside. And once we understand the factors, we can better create real balance in our bodies, in our lives, and throughout all of the seasons.
We don’t want to feel really great in the summer and then feel really off and stagnant throughout the winter. We want to be able to maintain this real sense of vitality through all the seasons. And today we’re going to get into very practical tips and takeaways you can start implementing and start feeling good in your body.
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Note: The following is the output of transcribing from an audio recording. Although the transcription is largely accurate, in some cases it is incomplete or inaccurate. This is due to inaudible passages or transcription errors. It is posted as an aid, but should not be treated as an authoritative record.
Kimberly:00:00 <affirmative>, Namaste loves and welcome back to our Thursday Q&A show where our topic this week is why we gain weight in the winter months and what to do about it <laugh>. So it is important to understand the factors at play here, why so many of us tend to gain a couple extra pounds or more in the winter just because of different factors, both in our environment, in our home, and what’s going on outside. And once we understand the factors, we can better create real balance in our bodies, in our lives, and throughout all of the seasons. So we don’t wanna feel really great in the summer, for instance, and then feel really off and stagnant throughout the winter. We wanna maintain this real sense of vitality through all the seasons. So we’re gonna get into that today and I’m really excited for our very practical show with lots of tips and takeaways.
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And finally, please be sure to pick up our, our new book. You Are More More Than You Think You Are – Practical Enlightenment For Everyday Life, which is a really wonderful gift for yourself or for others this holiday season. It’s a practical book, it’s got short chapters, but they’re very potent with teachings and practices. So you can cozy up with it next to the fire or on the, on a plane trip or just at home and really use, take advantage of these darker winter months to go inward and create real outward change in your life as we step into the new year. Alright, all of that being said, let’s get into our topic today, why we gain weight in the winter months.
Question around the topic of:8 Reasons We Tend to Gain More Weight in the Winter: During the winter months I always struggle with my eating habits and putting on extra weight. Why is that and what can I do to eat better in the winter months?
Kimberly:02:58 And our question today, which prompted today’s show comes from Iris who lives in Nevada. And Iris writes question during the winter months, I always struggle with my eating habits and I put on extra weight. Why is that? And what can I do to eat better in the winter months? So thank you so much, Iris, for bringing this to light. I think a lot of us struggle, and we’ve heard different aspects of this, but it’s really nice to be very direct here and go into the eight key factors so we can better understand why is this happening and what can I do to create more balance When we start to feel that out of control, feeling like, oh, this is, this isn’t what I want. This feels really bad, this feels really stagnant, and then starts to perpetuate and it goes on and on. And then we just sort of <laugh>, we get have berries where we feel like we’re giving up and we just continue to eat the junk foods and our energy goes down and our focus and our creativity and our aliveness.
03:52 So it’s really important that we understand. So Iris, thank you so much. I think a lot of us and myself included, can feel that at times. I remember last weekend and into this week actually bubby, my older son has been, has been a bit sick, so he is been outta school. So we’ve all been home and we’ve been inside a lot. And I, you know, I noticed I was snacking more than usual and eating popcorn and certain things, and I just started to feel a bit heavy. And so I made a decision yesterday actually to really get back on track and to cut back on all this snacking. And it’s okay sometimes because we know that we don’t have to be perfect, we’re striving for that 80%, but we all know that line inside of ourselves where enough is enough. I’ve gone, I’ve veered off track a bit too much here and I’m excited about coming back.
04:46 So we don’t beat ourselves up, <laugh>, we don’t, you know, fall into that mindset of guilt and self-punishment and, you know, I’m so bad I didn’t use my will. We just notice, we create that awareness and that awareness is what brings us, guides us back to center. So we just wanna be aware, we wanna wake up more to how we wanna be feeling, and then we notice there’s a gap today in how I wanna feel in my body with my food choices, in my digestion, and so on and so forth. And then we make that inner decision to make a shift. So the beating up, the excess on top, the self-talk, the mean self-talk, none of that is necessary. We just direct our power back into making a shift today. But first, let’s go into these eight factors so we can start to shine this light of awareness on our own experience on our own lives.
It’s cold outside and the days are shorter
05:46 So first of all, number one, it’s cold outside and the days are shorter. We are coming up into winter solstice, which is December 21st for those of us on the northern hemisphere. So the days are shorter up until this point, and then the light will start to expand. But what’s interesting is that 53% of moms revealed that they gained 10 to 20 pounds last winter. Okay? So <laugh>, you are not alone. If you feel like you’re struggling with weight, there is a lot of, um, weight gain going on all around. And the first factor is just in the environment. It’s cold and it’s dark. And so it’s very easy to not move as much to look to foods for comfort. And so we need to understand that, um, okay, this is, this is a, a harsher set of circumstances than we’re probably used to in the summer when there’s this gentle sun or stronger sun in the midday, but we can go outside, it’s cold. And so we need to recognize that and we, when we get into our, our takeaways in just a moment, what else we can do to bring that heat into our bodies.
The comfort factor
But the second factor is the comfort. Warm comfort foods are easy to reach for, and a lot of comfort foods have higher calories. So because it’s so cold, because we’re looking for coziness and soothing, we tend to go for the heavier foods, whether that’s nuts or milky coconut, um, fatty foods buttery, and that could be vegan butter, of course, but the comfort foods, um, are such an easy, tangible, physical thing for us to reach for.
Number three, it’s evolutionary. Many animals hibernate in the winter. And remember that we are mammals. So according to researchers at the University of Exeter, it is part of our biological makeup to reach for instinctively to, to for more foods as the winter comes to sort of burrow up and, and make sure that there’s plentiful resources literally within us and around us so that we stay safe in the winter.
08:03 So there’s a bit of an evolutionary aspect of this as well. Of course, we can all go overboard, but understanding that this is, there’s a natural thing happening here.
Changes in physical activity
Number four, changes in physical activity. So it is normal that when it’s summer, when it’s spring, we’re doing projects outside of the house. We tend to be more active in the yard fixing things up, gardening more, playing outside with our kids. And when winter comes, we are a bit more stagnant. I’ve noticed this of course in my own family. We are outside a lot. We are blessed with a nice big yard and fruit trees. And one of our favorite afterschool activities when bubby comes home is we’re just picking fruits and we’ve got a fruit picker. So whether it’s pomegranates or apples or oranges, which tend to be sort of, um, in cycle all the year, we noticed that some of our trees have two different plant, uh, two different fruiting.
09:05 But now that it’s freezing outside, we’re inside and we’re building a lot with Legos and wooden blocks, which is amazing and fun. But it is a shift. There is less physical activity, which means we just need to be aware of that and see where we can insert more, more, um, opportunities to be active in different ways, which we’ll get to in just a moment.
Wintertime affects our hormones
Number five, wintertime affects our hormones so there’s less sunlight, and this means that we can be more groggy, we can be more susceptible to seasonal effective disorder. There is just a, a shift light is an activation. Vitamin D is a type of hormone in our bodies, even though we think of it as a vitamin. So this shifting of the light is going to also have a, have an effect on our bodies, and it’s important that we understand that.
We hide under layers of clothing
10:02 Number seven, we hide under layers. This is one I know very well when I am overeating, when I’m snacking, when I’m in home in my pajamas all day and my clothes feel really baggy and big, I don’t feel as self-conscious about the snacking. It’s sort of all hidden away. And so obviously we are more self-conscious. In the summer, we may be wearing bathing suits and shorts and tank tops and tighter clothes and our belly show more. And so we are more aware and, um, you know, just cognizant of what we’re putting in, in terms of food nutrition. But when we’re, when we’re baggy and we’re hiding underneath all these layers that can, that can definitely play a part. So it’s important to be aware of that as well.
Our metabolism changes in the winter
And lastly, our metabolism can change in the winter. We, um, wanna stay warm in the winter. This is part of our natural evolution, evolution again, but our bodies aren’t burning as much energy.
11:06 We’re, we’re more stagnant. Our bodies are tuned to keep ourselves warm and to keep ourselves safe. And so we may, uh, generally notice that there’s a bit of a slowdown, but don’t worry, there’s things that we can do to balance all of this. But I just want you to be really aware of all these different factors so that we can work to balance them.
What we can do to reverse the negative impact that winter can have on our weight
So let’s talk about what we can do, um, specifically with these eight reasons that people are gaining weight, including ourselves. Number one, it’s cold. Number two, comfort food feels warming. So one of the things that we can do is to bring heat into our bodies in the sense of comfort in different ways. Number one, drink hot elixirs all day. <laugh>, starting with your hot water with lemon in the morning, and you can add ginger to it. So hot elixirs are something I’m really passionate about sharing about because the, the heat of elixirs is very traditional type of medicine used in our Aveda called decos and all the different forms of that where we’re boiling down, we’re heating up different compounds, different plant medicines.
12:21 It could be the root, it could be the flour, it could be the stem, all these different herbal practices, but there’s something powerful about heating it into water and then drinking that water. Number one, these nutrients and these elements go into us more easily. Number two, the heat and the hot water bring a sense of stability to your body, a sense of presence when it’s going inside, you can feel that fullness inside of you. This, it, it’s great for your agoni, for your digestion, and it just feels so warming and comforting to have this heat. So it doesn’t always have to be, you know, a bowl of mac and cheese or some of the things that we’ve been used to being comforted by in the past. Of course, um, there, there is room for, for, for warm meals, which we’ll get to in a second.
13:10 But when we’re really seeking that comfort, I encourage you to get familiar with three or four very simple elixirs, both watery and milky. So number one could be just the hot water with lemon. That’s been such a big part of our practice for years. Number two, hot water with lemon and ginger. Number three, something simple like tulsi tea and then the milky elixirs. And we have lots of recipes firstname.lastname@example.org. It could be a golden milk, it could be a hot chocolate, it could be a cinnamon, um, uh, cinnamon clove sort of warming spicy drink that feels a little bit heavier because of the non-dairy milk that you introduce or you bring, you create with. It could be hemp milk, coconut milk, whatever. So use elixirs to your advantage. And then number two, find comfort foods that are stabilizing and fulfilling and nutritious and delicious, but not necessarily difficult to digest.
14:07 So here’s where we rely on our baked sweet potatoes, our kitcheree, our one pot meals. We’re cooking with coconut oil, which digests really well. So please again, go to myna.com for lots of these different recipes. Warming, comfort food does not have to be heavy, overly heavy. It can be heavier. There’s a recipe from, um, my two books ago, recipes for Your Perfectly Imperfect Life, uh, which is a pesto stew. So there’s some ground up cashews and that beautiful basil and chickpeas, and it’s a very comforting stew, but it’s not overly heavy. When we, when we go into overly heavy, we don’t feel good, we don’t feel that aliveness in our bodies, and that is not what we want. We still, there’s a naturalness to eating heavier in the winter, but again, we wanna still avoid excess sugar, excess gluten, dairy, excess animal products, processed foods, all the things that lead to stagnation.
15:11 So there’s aliveness and there’s stagnation. We wanna know which one will we choose. So encourage you to choose a aliveness. But this naturalness of, you know, from the evolutionary standpoint, we do seek more calories. We do want keep our bodies warm. So please go over to to the website and find again, three to five recipes that you can rotate in the kitie, the soups, the stews, the sweet potato dishes, the casseroles. There’s, um, the stuffed portobello mushrooms with pesto, which is really wonderful in the winter with the portobello mushrooms. So, so check some of those recipes for sure. And then some of the other, um, you know, factors we talked about the evolutionary aspect, changes in physical activity. Winter affects our hormones, our metabolism is affected. So one of the things that we can do to combat that is number one, just stay really hydrated.
16:10 When we’re hydrated, everything functions better in our bodies. Our organs will function better, we’re able to detoxify better. So even though it’s wintertime, keep that, that water on your desk in your car. I always have water when I’m driving bubby back and forth to school because even the heater in the car, I feel like my mouth gets dry. It’s just a reminder that hydration is so important. And we’ve done some specific shows around hydration lately for this reason. And when our hormones and, and, and hormonal balance will everything functions better when we’re really hydrated. So the next thing is to try indoor movement. It may be really freezing where you are with snow and ice. So I encourage you to check out some good old yoga videos. There’s so much online on YouTube. I’ve offered some series on there if you wanna practice with me.
17:03 We have our Beauty Detox Power series as well, which you can download or try. Um, if yoga isn’t your thing, you can try some dance activities or anything, you know, you can even grab a stroller for your child and walk around an indoor mall <laugh>, right? If you just need to get out sometimes and just be creative, find different ways to move your body. Um, just, you know, if you’re used to playing with your kids, uh, you know, indoor play can, can feel a little bit more confined, but there’s still different ways. We use softer, um, balls and balloons inside to play volleyball, to play different things. You wanna keep moving your bodies
Kimberly: 17:48 Inside. For me, stretching is a really big thing that we like to do at home. A little bit of light activity with the asus. So try that out for yourself. The next thing is to stick to set meals and minimize snacking. So this is really important because a sense of regularity will keep us in check. We don’t wanna throw everything out the window. So yes, it’s cold, yes, it can feel a bit harsh, but still start with your hot water with lemon. Take your SBO Probiotics every day. Drink your glowing green smoothie at room temperature. Keep a sense of normalcy. This is when I eat lunch, maybe I’ll have a snack and then dinner. So remind yourself that there is a rhythm to the day so we don’t go completely off track. And my last tip is to constantly give away treats and leftovers. When you have parties, when you have get togethers, when you get goodies, that’s when it adds another wrench into our plan.
18:53 Of course, things can start to feel harder because there’s all this abnormal stuff lying around. So give it away, donate it, give it to someone in need or homeless person or share it at your kid’s school or at work. But don’t keep treats and leftovers around long because that will add to the stagnation. It will add to everything that we’re, that we’re trying to balance. So these are some of the takeaways for today. Be sure to, number one, as I mentioned, use, lean on the elixirs as a beautiful source of warmth and comfort. Number two, um, stay hydrated at all times. Number three, seek, uh, comfort foods that are warm and nourishing, but not overly stagnant. Number four, try indoor movement different forms, but stay active in your body. You’ll feel great. And also try putting on some workout clothes so we’re not drowning in the baggy clothes all day.
19:58 Get out of your pajamas. Next, stick to set meals and your morning practice to minimize snacking, give away treats and leftovers. And next, the last thing I wanna leave us with today is to stay connected to the light within. So what I mean by that is to really, um, put an extra emphasis on meditation and breathing. Do your practices. We have lots of free meditations that we offer you online, on the website. So when we stay connected to this really stable place within, even when it’s cold, even when the weather shifts, even when we feel a bit stagnant in our bodies, we have this inner source of nourishment which will reduce the over-reliance on outside sources of pick me ups. So hope all of these help and please do continue to check out all of the many resources that we have for you on the website over at mysolluna.com
21:01 Everything from the meditations to the, uh, food recipes, other podcasts that will keep you inspired and motivated, articles just so much is on there. So please be sure to check everything out. I’m sending you a big warm, cozy hug wherever you happen to be. And so much love. So much love. I’m so grateful for our connection here. Truly, we are here to support each other and our souls found each other for a reason. So please let me know how else I can support you. You can also, while you’re over there on the show notes, you can write in questions of anything that you’re wondering about. And I can guarantee that other members of our community will also have the same question as you. So I’ll see you back here Monday for our next show. Till then, take great care of your precious self and Namaste, light and love.