After a Summer of ice-creams, holidays and chilled wine, our thoughts often turn to that important date in December, and more specifically, to the glamorous events that we might be lucky enough to go to, and we wonder how on earth we are going to fit into a slinky (maybe even short) little black number or smart suit.
We tend to slightly regret the extra burgers we had at the BBQ, or the double cone ice cream we had at the beach, when we realise that our bellies are ever so slightly rounder than they were at the start of the summer.
I know exactly how it feels, because I’ve been there, and am there!
So, just like the leaves which fall off the trees, we turn our thoughts to the practicalities of shifting those few pounds: to finding a quick fix to the belly-bubble. A few weeks of slimming foods will surely do the trick. Eating less will surely turn the excess inches into mere millimetres of too much bum! Walking lots more must be the way forward. Just a bit more will power, and we can easily turn down the chocolate which is calling our names ever so sweetly!
Aha, but that’s just plain wrong.
You see, even though we like to think of ourselves as somehow immune to the effects of the world, we are still, physically, very much part of the seasons, just like all the other animals around us. Whether we like it or not, or even whether it makes sense to our sophisticated brains, the coming winter, to our bodies, means a whole host of preparations to do!
Even though we live in warm houses, wear clothes which look fab as well as keep us warm, and have access to all types of food, no matter what the weather, our bodies are programmed, just like all mammals, to prepare for the winter!
And the winter means, to most of us living in temperate climates:
o A potential lack of food over the winter months (yep, I know that you can just get food from the local supermarket, but your internal clock doesn’t know that. It just worries that there might not be enough grub to last you a whole Winter)
o Shorter, darker days
o Cold weather
All of these things require us to build up our energy stores (and feel free to change the phrase ‘energy stores’ to ‘fat stores’) to keep us alive over the winter.
Just like a red squirrel hunting nuts, or a bear eating as much fruit as it can, we are designed, at this time of year, to eat foods which provide us with storable energy, and at the same time, our bodies really want to hold on to the energy stores it already has.
Which means, if your goal is to lose weight in time for your work Christmas party, you have a slog ahead of you. Now, I am an optimist, and it is perfectly possible to lose weight in this period – many people do, but to be honest, you have your work cut out to do it (and seriously, who has the time to go on a traditional ‘diet’ in the run up to Xmas?), and the minute you feel you have reached your goal (ie, just about Christmas Day), and feel ready to treat yourself just a tad, you will find your hard work going straight down the drain.
So, what can you do?
What on earth can be done about the belly, the bum, the hips, the thighs, the upper arms or whichever bit of you feels like it just doesn’t look like it did when you were happy with your belly, your bum, your hips, you thighs, your upper arms etc?
Actually, there are plenty of things to do, none of which involve ‘losing weight’ as such, and all of which involve enjoying food and being healthier!
Start with bearing in mind that when it gets colder, we need more energy to keep us warm. This means we want to eat more, and if we don’t eat more when we need the energy, our bodies will just make us eat more of anything (especially the kind of rubbish which isn’t actually good for us)
In the Autumn and Winter, eat foods that our body can use, so that we feel warm, lovely and don’t start stockpiling rubbish. We will then be ready to lose any extra weight when it is a great time to lose weight (ie, in the spring – more about that later on)
So, in a nutshell, here are my absolutely top-fave nifty suggestions for not trying to lose weight this autumn, and what to do about it instead:
It takes 3 years to lose excess weight sensibly, and to keep it off. It you have visions of being a super-model by Christmas, maybe accept that this isn’t going to happen. Being realistic might be boring, but will save you from thinking you are a failure and eating two packets of biscuits to cheer yourself up.
2.Get enough sleep.
We know that sleepy-time is when your body detoxes, and that people who don’t get enough sleep find it hard to lose weight. Whatever you plan in terms of losing weight, getting enough good quality sleep is going to be helpful. Also, bear in mind that the dark nights in wintertime are nature’s way of saying ‘go to bed a bit early and have a rest’. So even if you don’t like sleeping, or going to bed early, take the hint once in a while, and catch up on some beauty sleep!
3.Get some exercise and go outside to get it.
Getting fresh air is good for your lungs, great for detoxing your body and helping you to feel good and getting some sunlight (even if it is through murky clouds!) will help keep your immune system strong. At the same time, wrap up warm. If you make sure you stay warm, your will be less likely to feel the wintery-pull of the coffee shop lattes and muffins and find it easier to eat ‘good for you in winter foods’ rather than ‘I’m cold, hungry, fed-up and bored and need a quick energy boost foods’!
Fat is good for you, especially in the winter. Fat (and I’ll explain in a mo which fat I mean!) will help keep your skin strong in the face of icy winds and central heating. It will also keep your brain cells connected properly, meaning that your brain won’t slow down as the temperature drops! It will also help you make the ‘feel good’ hormones which you need to keep you optimistic, happy and confident all winter long.
Fat won’t make you fat, unless you eat the wrong type, or eat loads and loads of it, or just do nothing for the next 5 or 6 months.
So, which fats? Good fat: nuts, seeds, fish, green leafy veg, avocados, flax oil, olive oil, coconut, organic eggs. All these fats are good for you. You can eat them! Just don’t eat them and nothing else! There are loads of other fats, some of which are ok for you, some of which are bad. Rather than worry too much about them right now, just bear in mind that eating the good fats will not only help you, but will also help minimise the effect of any bad fats. I am just trying to make it simple for you here!
5. Fresh Winter veg.
Veg keeps things moving (both in terms of bowels and body), as well as provide you with the vitamins and minerals you need to keep healthy in the winter.
Boom. Five simple starting points to help you improve your health and to feel better rather than trying to starve yourself this Autumn. If you want to lose weight, doing this will help make sure you are perfectly ready to hit the weight loss bus the minute the daffodils start to show in the Spring. Which might sound boring, but losing weight in the Spring is going to help you stay off the weight loss roundabout.
For some massive inspiration about eating better as we head from Autumn into Winter (ooooh, Christmas!), sign up to my newsletter. You’ll be the first to hear when the Post-Christmas Five Day Reboot comes out, which means not only will you get to start the New Year in the best way possible, you’ll also get my Survive Christmas without avoiding chocolate bonus too!