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February 2015
The Winter Blues and Weight Gain
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Rebecca Pierskalla, CPT
The holidays have come and gone—that craziness is behind us. January is
almost over (and maybe by the time you are reading this, the calendar is
saying February). This winter has not given us much snow so we having
nothing to play in. Though the temperatures have been a bit more mild than
last winter (remember all of the polar vortexes that came through), the days
still get dark earlier and we may find ourselves a bit more sedentary. Here
are a few simple shifts in our behavior that help to keep us active and thus
preventing the typical winter weight gain.
We get less vitamin D in winter.
Solution: Our body needs sunlight to synthesize vitamin D, so try eating
foods such as fatty fish, nuts, and eggs. Studies show that low levels of
vitamin D reduces fat breakdown and triggers fat storage, so the calories
we consume are stored in fat cells rather than used for energy.
It’s cold and miserable outside.
Solution: Change your mindset—what is the reality? The reality is that it’s
not miserable outside, just cold! We need to stop complaining about the
weather! If you go into anything thinking that it will suck, it will. But if
you choose to see the refreshing, clean air, and the beauty of a crisp
morning, winter is a great season. People often complain about the
weather because they are not prepared for it. When not properly dressed
and outside for a length of time, yes, we will get cold and feel miserable.
Winter makes us feel “blah”.
M-F 5am-9pm
Sat 7:30am-8pm
Sun 9am-8pm
Solution: Because winter brings shorter days and the cold, we can feel a
higher level of dissatisfaction. We then tend to reach for comfort foods
as a pick-me-up. And these foods are often more energy dense, calorific
foods, which tend to have higher fat and sugar content. Instead let’s
plan more social gatherings with friends and schedule activities we enjoy.
Maybe now is the time to learn a new hobby or work on other projects
that we don’t get to in the summer months. These activities will bring us
more enjoyment and sense of well-being than any junk food we could
The media and our culture tell us it is normal to gain weight in winter.
10081 County Road 138
St. Cloud, MN 56301
Phone: 320-251-3965
Fax: 320-251-4042
Solution: In ancient times, the winter months were associated with famine, so one
theory that has arisen says we are genetically programmed to increase fat
stores to help us survive the winter months. The problem is that we no longer
need to store fat because we have an abundance of food available all year
round. The famine never comes. Fight the tendency to stay indoors or on the
cozy couch. This can be done by creating schedules and routines. If we have a
strong workout routine in place for other times of the year, it is this power of
consistency that will see us through the challenging times (such as in winter
when it is dark and cold).
Living in Minnesota is not about surviving the winter, it is about appreciating and
enjoying each distinct season. Winter weight gain does not have to be your reality—stop blaming yourself and instead start working against the factors that
promote it. Be ready for spring both physically and mentally. Give yourself a
head start!!
The Super Bowl Fitness Challenge (Give it a try)
1. Celebration Touchdown Dance
Each time one of the Super Bowl teams scores a touchdown, the same team in your living room does a Celebration Touchdown Dance, and (here’s the best part) the opposing team must copy the dance! Go all out!
Chant your team's name, make arm movements symbolizing letters of your team's name or dance it up.
Then kick the competition off the couch and have them copy it. (No shortcuts allowed!)
2. Field Goal Squats
Each time your team scores a field goal, get up from the sofa for 10 body weight squats. The opposing team
then performs 15! Guests who have (or say they have) joint pain with squats can do seated leg marches
3. Fumble Ball Push-Ups
For each fumbled ball, the retrieving team gets down on the floor for 5 push-ups; the opposition team does
10 push-ups! (Push-up-challenged guests can do wall, table or from-the-knees push-ups.)
4. Interception Arm Circles
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For each interception, the retrieving team stands up and spreads out for 15 forward arm circles; the opposition gets up for 15 forward and 15 back arm circles! (For the arm-circle-challenged, any pain-free range of
movement using the arms will do.)
5. Foul Marches
For each foul that results in a penalty of yards, the non-penalized team stands and marches in place for one
minute. The penalized team hoofs it for two minutes! Seated leg marching is fine for those with ambulatory
challenges. (Alcohol-induced challenges don’t count!)
6. Quarterback Sack Crunches
For each quarterback sack, the team delivering the sack falls to the floor for 10 abdominal crunches; the
opposition then drops for 20 abdominal crunches. (Crunch-challenged teammates can do seated straight leg
7. Half Time Whossiers
At half time, the team that's winning dances to a Who song ("Awesome band for us baby boomers," laughs
Coach Scott). The losing team dances to two Who songs. If the game is tied, everyone dances two songs!
During half time, everyone takes a few minutes to stretch and enjoy healthy snacks to fuel up for the second
8. Grand Finale Celebration Dance
At the end of the game, the winning team performs a rousing Grand Finale Celebration Dance that the losing
team -- yep, you guessed it -- must match!