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End Your Winter Weight Gain Cycle

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Controlling your weight gain is a series of never-ending adjustments. Some of these adjustments might be needed due to age, pregnancy, depression, thyroid malfunctions or your genetics.

The winter weight gain cycle can be broken if you make smart adjustments each year. It becomes a cycle when you continue to put on a few more pounds every winter.

If you’re not careful, you will put on a few more pounds every month. You make adjustments by monitoring your body fat percentage and weight gain about once a week. This will tell you if your workouts (or lack thereof) and eating plan are getting the job done.

Be prepared to make adjustments to control weight gain or to continue to burn fat and lose weight--whether its winter, spring, summer or fall. And, remember this: you will usually gain weight over an extended time period. That explains how you weigh 35 pounds more at age 40 than you did at age 30. The winter weight gain cycle was probably partially responsible for your weight accumulation.

"Although seasonal weight gain varies from person to person, there have been surveys that show an average of a five to seven pound gain in weight in winter," says Lawrence J. Cheskin, MD, founder and director of the Johns Hopkins Weight Management Center and associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

"A small percentage of people in winter may develop seasonal affective disorder, which is clinical depression brought on by winter's short days; many of these people may have trouble overeating," says Cheskin. "But that is due to the depression itself, and people with this disorder are just as likely to undereat as to overeat, which is true of all people who suffer clinical depression.

For the rest of us, winter weight gain is largely the result of reduced exercise and increased eating, Cheskin says. "Research studies show that the 'hibernation theory' of winter overeating does not hold up for the vast majority of us who do not have seasonal affective disorder."

Here are my tips to control your weight during the winter months:

--Adjust your caloric intake during the cold months.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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