The Winter Blobs

It’s very late winter and we are all anxiously awaiting spring and the warmer weather to appear. We may be dancing and exercising but our bodies feel tired and padded with a little extra cushioning. We aren’t eating too badly, we are sleeping fairly well and we are, hopefully, drinking a lot of water. Why is this extra padding appearing? This is the common condition known as the “Winter Blobs”.

I’ve had several people ask for advice about this condition recently. Why aren’t they losing the weight they have gained? They are restricting their calories and diligently following their exercise regimen but nothing is changing on the scale’s dial. They have been at it for weeks, even months. I see the “winter blobs” creeping up on my own body as we approach spring, even after successfully negotiating the temptation filled holiday weeks of early winter.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind as we view ourselves in the mirror with dread and berate ourselves when our clothing feels a little tight. We are, after all, animals that are subject to the same genetically programmed inclination to store more fat in the winter as, for example, bears do. Food sources are scarce in the late winter and early spring and our bodies are trying to help us to survive the cold and lack of nutrition historically found at this point in the year. We may also have less motivation to move because our bodies are trying to conserve fuel. Our bodies haven’t dropped this evolutionally developed survival tactic.

Furthermore, our hormones change as the light decreases during the winter months. Many people experience depression and low energy due to SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). We crave more carbohydrates for quick energy boosts to combat the low energetic levels we feel. So we may err on the side of sugary foods for energy.

Finally, we humans interfere with our natural sleep patterns by instituting daylight savings time. Just as our bodies begin to come out of the winter “coma” and we start to wake up more naturally to the timing of the sunrise, we change our clocks. We are thrust back into the dark in the morning and our internal biological timing is thwarted.

We are tired because our bodies have to make an unnatural transition which affects our hormonal functioning as well. Exhaustion makes us less vigorous in our exercise routines and the desire for easy bursts of caloric energy is increased. Even if we don’t uptick our caloric intake, the sudden shift of time makes our bodies protective of our food source – it’s as if our bodies think we are back in the throes of mid-winter. Extra padding is put on so we can survive what seems to be a longer winter genetically speaking.

The “Winter Blobs” are frustrating and can make us feel defeated. We can change our exercise routines making them longer and varied and we can restrict our intake of calories. But ultimately, maybe we need to stop being so hard on ourselves which only adds to the stress our minds and bodies are feeling at this time of the year. If we understand some of the hard-wired genetic programming that our bodies are using to protect us from the winter season, we can gain some perspective. If we stay true to our healthy regimen despite these challenges, come spring we will emerge ready to shake off the “Winter Blobs” and get rid of the extra padding that nature has provided us.