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David Barton

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Does a Bear S*&% in the Woods?

Posted: 01/29/10 03:24 PM ET

Yes. He does everything in the woods. Not us. We do everything in cozy houses. Our diet evolved over 30 million years, but diets evolved over the last 50. We evolved so simple in the woods and have a metabolism that wants us to eat as much as possible, whenever possible, especially in the winter. Self-sufficient cavemen who dieted died before they could pass on their DNA.

Like bears, who eat fruit in the fall intuitively knowing that the sugar will make them fat before they hibernate, we also have an intensely strong instinct to get fat in the winter. Nature pushes us to crave heavier foods that are carb and fat-driven. That combined with cultural traditions, like Christmas dinners and New Year's party events, intensify the winter fat storm.

I have four suggestions to control this:

1. Avoid Seasonal Habits
I apply this in my own life. I work out and eat the same consistently throughout the year. Apply your summer eating habits year round, turning to lighter, nutrient-rich food. Don't fall into the trap of what's made culturally popular for each season, particularly heavier winter trend dishes. By staying consistent, you avoid the panic mode and yo-yo dieting synonymous with New Year.

2. Look Better Naked Year-Long
Don't let the winter layers keep you from being the best version of yourself. Yes, winter fashion can hide the weight if you skip your ab work or lunges, but put things in perspective by slipping on a bikini or swim trunks once a week. Keep your body awareness as heightened as you would at prime beach time.

3. Combat The Cold
Cold weather can make it tough to hit the gym. Create new reasons to combat the cold, either by working with a trainer or taking on a more social workout. you not only look forward to the workout but the people you're going to meet in the process. Outsmart your instinct to stay in and hibernate by creating new reasons to hit the gym, from the people you'll meet to the physical payoff.

4. Crush The Crash Dieting
Don't starve away the five pounds you gained over the holidays. Remember the last time you crash dieted... It wasn't worth it when you got really hungry and re-binged. Reduce your calories by 15% and hit the gym. Try to work out right before dinner. Less of your dinner will be stored as fat.