So, there I was in my advanced nutrition class, and the teacher was justifying why it is normal for people to gain 5-10 pounds during the winter months. Interestingly, it usually starts with the cooler days of fall, and then progresses as the cold deepens (er, gets worse) and the extra fat provides much needed insulation.
Ri-i-i-ght. Not that I didn’t get the reasoning. Why, it sounded such a plausible explanation, albeit thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, that I should welcome such fat padding on my hips, thighs and bottom.
Unfortunately, the fat did not sit well in my mind as happily as it should on my body. Not to mention that meant having 2 sizes in my closet, including underwear, pants, tops, workout gear, pjs, and even sport bras. Plus, that meant storage was needed, and really, did I need two sets of sizes? Maybe I could just squeeze into the smaller size with my muffin top and jiggly thighs?
I had to sit down with myself, and really figure out why it was, that daylight savings time now over meant it was perfectly acceptable to be a pleasantly fatter version of my slim-summer physique.
Let’s be clear: it’s not that I really fall off the bandwagon during winter and end up overweight. I mean, we’re talking 5 pounds here. Maybe as much as 8. It’s happened!
But 5 pounds can be such a pain when those little chubs just make you feel so heavy. And yes, heavy is how I feel during the winter.
Why is that?
Well, let’s see. Gee, it’s dark out most of the time. Sunup isn’t ‘til around 8ish and by 4pm, it’s back to dark mode.
Now sunup can mean one of two things: 1- It’s grey out, which means it’s snowing or there’s a storm en route or 2- It’s sunny out, but the -20C usual weather with the added -10C wind-chill factor means that -30C weather is certainly not suitable tanning weather, but good if you’re into frostbite. Oh, you can take your gloves off, for all of 30 seconds, and yes you can bare your face to the sun if you like glued-up lashes. Alas, the sun is not on warm mode, and while light therapy lamps are all en vogue, my experience with them has meant 2 hours wearing SPF 50 sunscreen to make me feel all of 10% better.
Ah yes, that down feeling, as if I had suddenly gone into cave mode.
I chide myself, and drag my wooly feet and windproof body complete with snow pants and ski attire en masse to the gym. The warm-up takes about half an hour before I can fully move without it turning into a grade 2 or grade 3 tear. Hammy ones are fun and common, but I’d rather not.
Then comes the issue that I’m all sweaty from a good fartlek run on the treadmill, but it’s freaking cold, and thankfully I’ve brought a change of clothes with me. Head home quickly now, as the water evaporation continues to leave my body feeling clammy and under the weather. Just leave all at the door, strip, and get to the shower ASAP to wash it all off, unless you really need that electrolyte drink and can get away with gulping it down in lickety-split time. Drinking while showering sounds reasonable in theory, but practically doesn’t do so well.
Ah yes, and what to say about jogging in winter weather? Well, I’ve written a post on that one, as whistling wind and cool breath can be excellent meditations bar none, excluding the appreciation meditations on slush, black ice, freezing rain, hail, and that slippery powder called snow. Good times, indeed!
What, leave the house at all? Well, no, if I can, I try to stay in, where there’s, you know, lots of things in the pantry called food. I do work from my computer, you know, but those breaks come pretty fast! Opening and closing the pantry is a great obsession that, by the way, can turn into compulsive behavior. I try not to keep anything carby around, but somehow popcorn and sweet potato seemed so innocuous at the grocery store. Yep, the worst is carbs AND fat, and for some reason I bought into the whole cassava-chips-with-avocado-oil thing, thinking they were a healthy alternative, and it was okay to eat half a bag a day.
I guess my need for comfort came in the guise of food, yet what was this comfort that I needed? Summer was so sassy and fun, with hot sun, the outdoors, and great weather to just hang out in, and winter…? Yeah, gardening is ground to zero. I mean it’s literally way below zero, and trees seem pretty, but rather frigid with large icicles hanging from them.
Hm, sitting down and reviewing the facts, I see that my nutrition teacher left out a whole slew of details in the form of psychology. Well, in Chinese medicine winter is a time for turning in, and is all about adrenal health. Apparently, mine don’t do too well, despite taking extra supplements during those deep, dark days. Turning in seems more like hibernation to me. And while glistening snow is nice and pretty during the first snowfall and maybe on Christmas day, the rest of the time the bitter cold and hailing winds seem to be a good reason to sit on my a** all day.
Does mobility training burn a lot of calories? I guess those hip openers and clam shells, touted as all the rage from pilates and yoga, aren’t so burn-worthy after all. Certainly nothing like that high yahoo feeling I get with met-con or cardio training.
I can tell when I gain weight, too, because I always grab the same pants. You know, those flowy pants that are supposed to be fashionably harem-esque, and those loose-fitting workout tops that give lots of space to breathe around your body? Of course, all that space needs to be tamped down and covered up with thick wool socks, two more oversized tops, and even a fluffy robe with monogram stitching.
Fashion, you ask? Why, fashion has gone plumb out the window, because really who wants to see flyaway hat hair with smushed bangs and racoon mascara eyes (it’s waterproof, not ice proof), and just how many snowflake-happy sweaters and different colored snow pants can you wear before feeling rather drab and dowdy? Not like you own 50 pair of boots, either. Nope, just a good solid pair that gets you from here to there, plus cleats for those times when ice and snow demand something extra special. Sorry, I haven’t tried blinging them with Swarovski crystals, but it’s worth a smashing try!
Yep, the more I mull it over, the more I can see why polar bears are a fashionable symbol of the true great north. Indeed, my bearish behavior seems to match perfectly with my extra insulation, as it is really my body’s loving wisdom gone into bear mode.
I guess I’ll have to embrace that animal totem spirit, and be more mindful about hibernating bears.
Good news is that winter only started in November (technically fall) and it’s only -15C out, which means we’re having a mild winter. I should thank my lucky stars that I can count how many snowstorms we’ve had on two hands, and that my toes aren’t needed for counting this time around.
I guess Canadian winter isn’t so bad after all, given that I’ve been X’s the days countdown-style until spring shows up. Technically that’s in March, but a mild winter means that winter gets extended until April, and the weather will be hovering around -10 until then. Gee, what was I complaining about all this time, when I realized that summer really didn’t start until June, and was over by August? I guess that 3-month hiatus really stuck in my brain as what great Canadian weather is really all about!
Good thing I sat myself down and sorted it all out. Besides, there’s only 90 more days left until the frost warning is over, and salads, smoothies and BBQing will be all the rage again! Until then, my fatter body and I have come to a peaceful truism: that every winter is yet another another opportunity to fall in love with myself all over again!