Thursday, October 31, 2013

Staying Paleo During Holidays

   Every year halloween officially heralds in the holiday season. As October rolls by the air turns cooler, the days get shorter, and our bodies can sense the impending winter around the corner. The seasonal changes also trigger hormones and clocks in our bodies to store fat for the upcoming long least that is the excuse most of us use when we put on 10 pounds over the holidays. So the question is---does winter makes us fat? This needs a bit of exploration.

   The winter does bring many challenges to the fitness equation. People tend to put on more clothes in winter, so showing their flesh is not a priority. Whereas, in the summer people do wear tee shirts and swimwear and showing flesh is common. When showing flesh people are self conscious and taking care of their body is a priority. The weather in the summertime also permits people to be outdoor where winter in most regions of the country takes this option away. There have been many studies conducted on seasonal affective disorder (SAD). In the colder regions of the country many people do suffer from a mild form of depression. I lived in Boston for several years and some winter mornings getting out of bed was a chore. One explanation for the winter gain is that we eat more to fight off the depression due to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). This could be true for many people, but across a wide spectrum does not tell the whole story. Another explanation could be that we need to store more fat in order to stay warm and provide the necessary calories to keep our bodies warm. Let's face it when the outside temps fall, our bodies must burn more calories to maintain a core temperature of 98.5 degrees fahrenheit. This makes perfect sense, but once again there are flaws in this explanation. We live in heated houses and have plenty of clothes to keep us warm. Most importantly we are not trekking in the snow and clod weather toiling for our daily living. I go to work in a nice heated building and sip few hot cups of coffee in a normal eight hour day.

   The real problem with winter weight gain is the abundance of wrong food and the license given to us to eat it by the holiday season. As holiday season trumpet is blown loud and clear by halloween, the candy and the decorations appear everywhere. Corporate office buildings and many public places will have candy bowls in the open inviting us to help ourselves to that nice piece of snickers or almond joy. No matter where you go that bowl of candy is staring at you inviting you to take a piece. And yes, most of us would succumb to this unfair temptation and will reach for few or perhaps more than few helpings of the sweet concoctions. My workplace has a cake decorating contest where many creative employees will bake a halloween themed cake and bring in to the office to share with the co-workers. There is also always a kind soul that brings in the baked cookies and some other baked concoction to share with the coworkers. People simply don't feel guilty during the holidays...the rational is that I will work this off with exercise in spring. Or whatever, abuse I do to my body, I can always fix it with exercise later.

   Of course, most of us don't follow up with our exercise goals and regimens and the weight acquired during the holidays simply stays with us. The other option to fight off the holiday weight is to avoid those bad foods that make us fat in the first place. And that is where the struggle is. Paleo lifestyle naturally requires us to stay away from the foods that make us fat. I have read many blogs, heard advice, and seen techniques for staying on a diet....folks there is really no short cuts in life. One must take the first step towards taking care of the self and it all begins with the self. I wish I could give you a simple advice or an anecdote that could make you stay on Paleo for the future...unfortunately, no such thing exists. The only way that I know of to fight the winter weight gain is to go Paleo. Avoid these 5 food groups and you shouldn't have to worry about putting extra baggage this winter:

  1. Grains
  2. Legumes
  3. Sugars
  4. Rice
  5. Dairy

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