Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Don't be a Victim of Seasonal Weight Gain

Fall is definitely in the air: leaves are falling, as are the temperatures, and our motivation to get in shape or stay in shape may be waning as we opt toward sleeping in and eating comfort food.

If you're prone to seasonal weight gain, changes in mood and motivation levels, fall is the perfect time to give yourself a pick-me-up in the form of fun, exhilarating exercise. If you start your day with coffee and a donut and get discouraged by your mid-morning energy crash (and mid-winter weight gain), you'll be amazed by the difference in the way you feel when you engage in regular exercise and are vigilant about your food choices.Here are a few foods you might add to the diet as they may help to promote serotonin production in the body:

Bananas, brown rice, cottage cheese,
almonds, walnuts, chicken, and figs.

According to the experts at Web MD, up to 3% of the U.S. population may suffer from “winter depression” or “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (SAD), and those who suffer from year-round depression often find their symptoms become worse when the days are shorter during the winter months.

While many sufferers may seek medical help to deal with their symptoms, self-treatment may be as simple as starting or maintaining a sensible diet and exercise program.

SAD sufferers often crave carbohydrates as a way to cope. But sugary sweets provide a quick, temporary fix that may also pack on the pounds. A sensible, balanced diet consisting of fruits, vegetables and proteins can help alleviate cravings, and choosing complex carbohydrate foods such as whole grains and starchy vegetables is a better option than candy or caffeine.

Another great way to head off the blues is to exercise, and working out with a friend helps keep you from “cocooning” and avoiding others – another symptom of SAD. Plus, when you have a workout partner, they'll hold you accountable and you'll be less likely to skip a day.

Physical activity can help alleviate symptoms of depression, according to staff reports from the Mayo Clinic. Just a 30-minute walk or a planned workout at the gym can relieve stress, and may leave you happier and more relaxed than those who don't participate in an exercise regimen.

Get a jump-start on your winter workouts by starting your fitness routine today. Just think, you'll be that much more prepared for your 2011 summer swimsuit body as well!

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