Avoid Winter Weight Gain

Avoid Winter Weight Gain

skates-1201773_960_720We see it almost every year, the cycle of winter weight gain.  There are about one hundred reasons (or excuses) for it… the holidays, the cold weather, the lack of sunshine, the “busy” time at work, traveling, family time, etc.  Surveys show an average of five to seven pounds of weight gain per year in the winter.  But winter comes around every year and we have some great tips and tricks to prevent those pounds from packing on.  Beat the statistics, because those five to seven pounds this year become ten to fourteen next year, and so on.  See the recipes, links and ideas below for a healthy winter both this year and for years to come.

  • Let the Light (and Vitamin D!) Shine In. Less daylight makes you feel more tired. Early morning light is a natural energy booster so leave your curtains open to help you wake up a little earlier for a morning workout. Getting less sunlight just makes us feel down in the dumps overall. To combat these feelings we eat more carbs and sugar which release dopamine and make us feel better. To avoid emotional eating, start the day off right with a little sunshine!
  • Put Away the Snow Blower: Shovel the snow instead and burn a couple hundred calories! Then build a snowman or have a snowball fight with the kids for some extra fun and physical activity.
  • Try a Winter Sport (actually do it this year!): Skiing, snowshoeing, snowboarding, or throw on some ice skates and check out the new Maggie Daley skating ribbon. Click here for more information.
  • Find a Fun Indoor Activity: Is the cold too much to bear? Take the family bowling and burn 150 calories an hour while you’re at it. Go window shopping at the mall to help reach your goal of 10,000 steps a day (don’t forget to take the stairs).
  • Step on the Scale: This can help stop major weight gain before it gets out of control. Try to weigh yourself once or twice a week (if you must weigh yourself every day, take the average for the week). If you see that number creeping up, make adjustments to your eating and exercise habits.
  • Don’t Pack Away All of Your Summer Clothes: Cooler weather means bulky layers and loose sweaters, making it  easier to miss those subtle changes. It’s much easier to see small changes in your body when you’re wearing tighter thin layers, so try your warm weather clothes on every few weeks during the winter to make sure you don’t have any surprises come springtime!
  • Fill your cart with produce: Sure, you don’t have the selection of fruits and veggies that you do in the summer but there are some great winter crops to keep the calories and sugar down but the vitamins and fiber up! Squashes, kale, artichokes, cauliflower, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and oranges to name a few. Check out some recipes below.
  • Sip Hot Tea instead of Hot Chocolate: Some 8 oz cups of hot chocolate have 180 calories and nearly 30 grams of sugar! Switch to zero calorie/zero sugar tea for a happier waistline. Try peppermint, apple cinnamon, gingerbread spice or winter berry to keep you warm through the winter cold.
  • Find Your Motivation: Can you sign up for a race in the early spring that will force you to start training now? Look ahead in your calendar, do you have a wedding to attend or a spring break vacation planned? Remember, summer bodies are made in the winter!
  • Avoid Getting the Flu: You’ll be down and out for weeks before you fully recover. When you’re sick you’re more likely to eat high calorie comfort foods, drink sugary juice and skip regular exercise- a perfect combination for weight gain! Make sure to wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, regularly disinfect doorknobs, countertops and TV remotes, get 8 hours of sleep at night, and consider getting a flu shot at your next visit with Olivera Weight Loss.


Thai Coconut Curry Winter Squash Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, freshly grated
  • 1½ tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 4 cups butternut squash (or acorn squash), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 (15-ounce) can coconut milk
  • Juice of ½ lime
  • ½ teaspoon Sriracha, optional
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • ⅓ cup cilantro, chopped, to garnish
  • ⅓ cup unsalted, dry-roasted peanuts, chopped, to garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add in the garlic and onion and saute until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add in the ginger and curry paste and stir to combine with the onion and garlic. Cook for 3 more minutes, stirring often.
  2. Add in the raw butternut squash cubes and slowly pour in the broth, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer and cover. Cook for 20 minutes, or until butternut squash is tender. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
  3. Pour the soup into a blender in batches and blend until smooth. Pour the blended soup back into the soup pot over medium heat and warm through, stirring occasionally.
  4. Before serving, remove from heat and mix in the coconut milk (saving a few tablespoons to garnish), lime juice, salt, pepper, and Sriracha (if using). Mix well. Pour into bowls and drizzle the remaining coconut milk on top. Swirl the coconut milk with your spoon or a toothpick. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro and chopped peanuts.


Oven-Roasted Orange Chicken with Fennel

⅓ cup water

4 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons orange juice, freshly squeezed

3 tablespoon lemon juice, freshly squeezed

2 tablespoons grainy mustard

3 tablespoons brown sugar

2 teaspoons salt

1 ½ teaspoons black pepper, freshly ground

2½ lb. chicken thighs, bone-in

2 medium fennel bulbs, washed and cut into 6 equal wedges

3 oranges, sliced horizontally into ¼ inch slices

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped finely

3 teaspoons fennel seeds

1 tablespoon fennel fronds – as garnish


  1. Mix water, olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, mustard, brown sugar, salt and pepper in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Pat-dry chicken thighs with paper towel.
  3. Add the chicken thighs, fennel wedges, orange slices, thyme, and fennel seeds into the mixture. Stir well.
  4. Cover it with plastic wrap and let it marinate at least 2 hours or overnight.
  5. Preheat the oven to 475 F Degrees. Place the chicken thighs (skin side facing up), in a single layer, into a large ovenproof glass pan (11″ x 15″ Pyrex works well). Distribute all the fennel wedges and orange slices equally around the chicken thighs. Pour the marinade juices over it.
  6. Place it in the oven, and roast for 40-45 minutes.
  7. Transfer the chicken thighs, fennel wedges, and orange slices into a serving plate. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm. Set aside.
  8. Pour the juices into a small saucepan. Bring it to a boil, over medium-high heat. Then turn down the heat to low, and allow it to simmer until it is reduced to ⅓ cup.
  9. Pour the sauce over the chicken. Garnish it with fennel fronds and serve!


Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Sweet Potatoes and Onions

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes, peeled, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 pound Brussels sprouts, outer leaves trimmed, cut in half
  • 1 14.4-oz. bag frozen pearl onions, thawed, patted dry
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Mist a baking sheet with cooking spray.
  2. Toss all ingredients together in a bowl.
  3. Spread on sheet in a single layer; roast until tender, 35 to 40 minutes, stirring twice.




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