This winter is hitting like a ton of bricks (or hailstones, for all intents and purposes). The air is frigid, the streets are slippery and the subway cars are lined with brown residue from an abundance of slushy Ugg boots.
I'm a true New Yorker through and through. However, I'm not the biggest fan of New York in the heart of winter. Although snowy NYC is beautiful, it's more difficult to get around and seems to lack the vibrant energy that exists during the spring and summer. New Yorkers tend to hibernate during the winter, emerging only for work, school or binding social commitments such as a sibling's wedding... or their own. That's right, please don't invite me to your book club reunion dinner until mid-March... and even then, mark me down as a firm "maybe." Apartment hibernation signifies less physical activity and more Seamless web delivery service. Who wouldn't want a piping hot delivery carton of lo mein delivered to their door in 35-40 minutes?
But this pattern of indulgence during the winter months presents a problem when it comes to our waistlines. Raise your hand if the jeans you purchased in December are a tad hard to zip up now (you can't see me, but I'm raising my hand high and proud). This is normal, but we want to avoid putting on any more than the obligatory "winter five." We should use this short break from our hectic social lives to our advantage. The fact that New Yorkers stay inside more often during the winter and eat out less is definitely something to work with. Now, it may take slightly more preparation, but cooking is healthier and more economical than dining out anyway. Use the winter as a time to brush up on those culinary skills and try out some healthy recipes. Look at cooking as a fun indoor activity -- this way it won't seem like such a daunting task.
We're all swamped during the week, so I find it beneficial to prepare some healthy meals over the weekend to keep in the fridge. This way, when you come home from work, cold and starving, you have a few "go-to" meals to heat up right away. You got it, this means less take- out, which is generally more caloric and definitely more expensive than cooking at home. It's a win-win situation for both your waistline and your wallet! I would recommend preparing meals that can be made in large quantities and stored in the fridge, such as a big pot of lean turkey meat sauce, bean soup or vegetable stir-fry with brown rice. For those of you with an aversion to cold vegetables in the winter, you're not off the hook -- bake, broil, steam or sauté veggies with light olive oil, soy sauce or apple cider vinegar to enhance the flavor. Mix veggies with a healthy grain such as quinoa, brown rice or barley and you have yourself a delicious and high-fiber meal that will keep you satiated.
Despite popular perception, greens don't just come in the cold form, so no excuses -- be a little creative and experiment with different types of cooked vegetables. You'll thank me when your jeans zip up without that intense "squat and suck in" dance we have all grown to love (sometimes it's the only way out). If you are not into cooking, I am always a big fan of "breakfast for dinner." Make scrambled eggs with vegetables and a side of wheat toast, a bowl of oatmeal with berries or an egg-white omelet with low-fat cheese and avocado.
I firmly believe that excessive ordering in is a main culprit of winter weight gain. It is impossible to know exactly which ingredients restaurants use to prepare our meals, and most of the time, delivery food contains more calories, fat and sodium than we think. Of course, it's hard to resist the greasy dumplings and chicken fingers screaming your name when sifting through Seamless. I mean, you just click the button, use Monopoly money and the food arrives to your couch -- all you have to do is pick up a fork.
Preparation is key to staying on track and avoiding weight gain during the winter months, when it is inevitable that we are less physically active. On that note, it is important to incorporate even a small amount of exercise whenever you can, to maintain muscle strength and tone. Order a pair of hand weights on Amazon for $10 dollars and do a few sets while your low-fat turkey meat sauce cooks. Look at that, you just killed two birds with one giant hailstone!
I also want to point out that sweetened hot beverages are not necessarily your friend. Well, they may be like that super fun friend who turns out to be a total nut, if you catch my drift. Anyway, who doesn't love a rich hot chocolate, warm apple cider or vanilla latte when it's below zero? These drinks warm the soul, but let me fill you in on a little something that most of us conveniently forget -- these beverages are extremely high in sugar, which is eventually stored as fat in the body. Avoid one of nutrition's cardinal sins and please refrain from drinking your calories! If you are in dire need of a hot chocolate or latte, make sure it is made with skim or low-fat milk and sugar-free syrup. If you own a Keurig coffee machine, try out the hot chocolate, latte or unsweetened flavored tea pods to take with you in a to-go cup. These pods contain less sugar and fewer calories than a creamy store-bought beverage and are just as satisfying, not to mention, much more cost-efficient.
Before you know it, spring will be in full force and the icy sidewalks and negative wind chills will be only a faint memory, but you want to start your spring off on the right foot. Don't "let yourself go" during the winter months just because you can hide under your giant ski jacket. Of course, it is normal to gain a couple pounds in the winter, and it's important to cut yourself a little slack.
Be mindful of ordering takeout too often and try to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming week. Incorporate these small changes to avoid the winter bulge and to make the transition into spring easier on yourself. Because once the groundhog has spoken, our fate is sealed (or something like that -- after 26 years, I'm still unclear on that shadow situation). So let's happily bid farewell to winter and say hello to spring in the same pant size that we started this fun journey on. Until then, get crafty in the kitchen, embrace some daily exercise, and remember -- on those rare occasions when you just can't help yourself, Seamless will always have your back.