Turkey chili, pizza, vegetarian lasagna, spaghetti and homemade garlic bread, macaroni and cheese, warm, fresh brownies out of the oven, and holiday cookies. All these foods have one thing in common: what I gravitate toward, crave, and indulge on throughout the winter season. Not only am I unable to resist these foods, I seem to have a much larger appetite and an urge to eat more.
The mere taste of a hot, fresh sourdough roll smothered in creamy soup is so comforting to taste on a cold, dark day. Or, the steamy fumes erupting from a large pizza box screams coziness, when lounging around the house watching college basketball on a wintry, snowy day. I struggle to become enticed by fresh vegetables, or light, healthy meals. I tend to hearty, meatier choices, which provide me warmth contentment; exactly the opposite, in which I feel, during the hot, summer season.
I refer to these months as my time of hibernation. Between the cold temperatures, the shorter days, and the sun going down so exceptionally early, I feel compelled to cozy up on couch at home. However, as it inches closer to the spring season, and I am suddenly teased by an unusually mild day, I start thinking about and searching for my new spring wardrobe.
The satisfaction I get from new, trendy styles and outfits is motivation enough to begin my spring shopping. But, every single year I am confronted with the same issues, and the same anxieties: headed into the spring season, what size will I be, and will I be able to fit into my pants from last summer? I am just referring to tank tops and shorts; not even swimsuits yet.
I come to recognize how long I had been dressed and fully wardrobed in leggings, and oversized sweatshirts and sweaters. Thank goodness for leggings, first of all. They have the magical ability to stretch, allowing for comfort and plenty of room to grow; a perfect feature following a typical overindulgent, wintry meal. Oversized sweatshirts provide the ability to hide and cover up any excess weight that may have been added on from the many days I laid on the couch, covered in blankets, and hands deep in the potato chip bag. These habits, I swear, come and go each winter. My mind and body seem to shriek for these food items. And, as a result, it is inevitable, I fear the day the temperature rises, and skin is exposed.
How can I possibly hide my newly gained stomach rolls in a fitted tank top? How am I going to be able to fit in those adorable white crop pants I got at the end of last summer when I was at my thinnest of the year? And, finally, will I be able to lose those extra few winter pounds this year, as each year gets harder and harder? All questions which recur in my head at this time EVERY year.
The reality is that I am a victim of winter weight gain. I can’t help it. There are foods I desire and love to eat during the snow season that I would never even desire when it’s scorching hot outside and I am sweating profusely. When it’s hot, the thought of hot, meaty chili is nauseating. My salivary glands thirst for juicy watermelon, fresh fruit, and lightly seasoned grilled salmon. My stomach churns for salads, lightly dressed, and naturally flavored water. Summers are a time to feel lighter, healthier, and more active; where just going for a walk is not even a possibility during the bone-chilling months of ice and snow.
If I lived in warm weather year round, would I never have this issue or concern? If I was able to be outside and active everyday, would I only crave my summer foods that tend to be exceptionally healthier than my winter taste buds? Would I be thin and never fluctuate? Possible to be even thinner if I have the option of being outside everyday?
There is something so comforting every winter about not feeling obligated to spend every second of the day outside; and moving at that fast, summer pace. I see the winter as a time where, sure, I gain a few pounds, but, also, the time where my body gets a much needed rest, that I may otherwise not provide it. As I begin my spring season shopping, I will remind myself that each season provides me with different food choices and exercise options. As someone who has the potential to become to rigid and scheduled, it forces me to adapt and change my routines — every few months — which, for me, is much healthier than keeping a couple pounds off of me.