Let’s be honest, these cold weather months you may have slacked off on your health a tiny bit. In fact, it’s probable. Statistically, people gain weight in winter.
Now, of course, health is NOT about your weight. Actually, being underweight is more dangerous than being overweight when you are 80. However a healthy waistline—especially waist-to-hip ratio—is something that could benefit so many Americans.
That said, maintaining a healthy weight can be overwhelming. But with summer just about a month away, I thought of a few things to make it easier for you—no strict diet or gym required!
You can get more vitamin D.
In summer you are most likely getting more vitamin D from sun exposure than in winter when, for the short time you were outside, likely you were mummified in a coat, hat, and gloves. Pervasive research reveals low levels of vitamin D constrain fat breakdown and trigger fat storage. So getting more rays actually helps your body use calories for energy instead of converting them to adipose tissue.
Even if you are spending a lot of time soaking up sun—there is a chance that you still remain vitamin D deficient. The best way to check is by asking your doctor to do a blood test for your levels.
Spending more time outdoors in nature will help you in multiple ways.
When it’s cold, we drive more, park as close to the building as possible, and are simply less interested in spending time outside. Contrarily, in summer we are more inclined to walk or bike to our destination and park far away.
Changes in light exposure and circadian rhythms have been indicated to increase feel-good neurotransmitters, like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine as well some hormones like melatonin that regulate not only energy levels but appetite and metabolism.
Being outside, especially in nature, and especially when nature is blooming with color instead of dead and brown, has a positive effect on our mood. The days are longer and the nights are warm. You are probably moving more, for more of the day. Summer provides the opportunity for long hikes, bike rides, swimming, and playing sports among the flowers, grass, and ocean breeze.
The foods we crave actually change.
Hot weather tends to make us eat lighter and eat less.
On top of that, research intimates that people have an organic drive to eat more calories in cold weather because, historically, there was less food available in winter. And remember, with the cold comes a drop in mood, increasing appetite and urge for sugar and comfort foods.
In-season summer produce:
We crave in-season summer foods—think lettuces, tomatoes, cucumbers, and watermelon—all of which are less caloric and contain more water than denser, more comforting winter foods—potatoes, winter squash, and root vegetables.
In summer, water intake most likely increases due to thirst and those water-dense summer foods.
Study after study links water intake with weight loss. Water helps your body burn more calories, regardless of your level of activity. Whenever you eat or drink, your body has to work to assimilate whatever you ingest. Within a few minutes of drinking water, resting energy expenditure (metabolism) can increase by 24 to 30 percent. That's not insignificant!
To boot, water satiates us—so we eat less, too.
Aromatic summer herbs like basil, cilantro, parsley, mint, and tarragon are natural diuretics and heavy-metal detoxifiers—flushing excess water and waste from the body. Additionally, studies indicate their strong, fresh smell can trigger satiety hormones, prompting you to eat less of an herbaceous dish. Summer herbs bring heaps of flavor for scant calories. For example one-quarter cup of cilantro has about 1 calorie! That bodes well for pestos, infused waters, teas, and herbal salad dressings.
So get excited—use these strategies above and you can be your healthiest self this summer.