November 10, 2016

It’s that time of year. From Halloween through New Years’ Eve, many people have a tendency to pack on a few pounds—or more. Perhaps it’s the candy and sweets, or maybe it’s the cold weather, which makes it difficult to head outdoors for exercise. Whatever the reason, it’s easier to prevent weight gain than it is to take off the excess pounds. These six tips should help.

1. Get a fitness tracker and set it for 10,000 steps a day.

I’ve found that goal so easy to achieve in summer and so difficult in winter, but having a tracker definitely adds to my motivation. Whether that means walking the dog rather than letting it out in the backyard, visiting the mall more often, making many trips up and downstairs at home, or just putting on a coat and walking around the block, your steps will all add up. You can also head to the gym or hop on the home stepper or treadmill. Seeing the actual numbers and going for the goal of 10,000+ steps a day will keep you moving!

2. Make portions smaller.

Nothing like good hearty fall and winter meals, right? But it’s easy to go for seconds and add on hundreds of calories. Try limiting yourself to one portion, skipping dessert, or eating a large green salad before the main course.

3. Switch up the ingredients.

We all know vegetables have less calories than meats and pastas. So try some zucchini noodles for a change (you can make your own with a low-cost zoodler), or add steamed veggies and reduce the pasta portion. Same things with soups and stews and crockpot meals—add in more carrots, celery, onions, beans, etc. It’s a great way to get your vegetables in and cuts out some of the calories.

4. Take the long way.

I’m sure you’ve read it before, but parking further from your job or stores, or taking public transportation when possible, helps you add steps to your day. We’ve all seen that person waiting for the front row spot at the mall —don’t be her! Save the waiting time by parking at the first spot you see, no matter how far, and walking in. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Walk the long way to the lunchroom at work. Walk your child home from the bus stop instead of driving. There are many little ways to fit in some more activity, and more activity equals more calories burned.

5. Watch the alcohol.

Heavy drinks like eggnog pack a calorie punch, as can beer, wine, and mixed drinks. December is party season, so you’ll likely be offered drinks more often. Remember to drink water in between heavier cocktails, or just have one drink and sip it slowly. Drinking too much can also lead to mindless eating (appetizer tray anyone?)

6. Consider a winter sport.

There’s nothing like skiing, snowboarding, or skating to get you up off the couch and outside! If you don’t like snow, what about joining a local club that has a swimming pool? Or try a gym with a varied choice of classes and weight machines. Most towns also have centers where you can take yoga, pilates, adult karate, or kickboxing. If you sign up for a class with a friend or family member, you’ll have more motivation to go, and keep on going.

Winter makes us want to get cozy, but you’ll feel better if you get some exercise every day. So try these tips and then, sure, turn on Netflix, curl up on the couch, and watch a great movie!