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Seasonal Changes that Cause Weight Gain

Seasonal Changes that Cause Weight Gain

As seasons change, you may notice a change in your eating and exercise habits. While some of these changes are positive, others can have a negative impact on your choices and lead to unwanted weight gain.


Summer is a season of fresh, nutritious foods, but a few things may work against your healthy intentions. Backyard barbecues can tempt you with high-calorie burgers, hot dogs, chips, and ice cream. Local fairs and festivals offer deep fried foods and high-sugar desserts. It can be difficult to pass up these once-a-year treats.

Summer can also make it harder to stick to your workouts. Hot temperatures and humidity can leave you feeling lethargic and make it unsafe to exercise outside.

What to do: Be selective about the foods you eat. Choose only those that are true treats, and take the time to savor them. Make a plan for workouts at home or consider a temporary gym membership so you don’t abandon your workouts due to a hot day.


Autumn brings cooler temperatures that are ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking and biking. Unfortunately, it is also a busy time of year for families. As you adjust to the back-to-school season, you may feel overwhelmed with little time to be active. The extra stress can lead to emotional eating, little exercise, and poor nutrition.

What to do: Find healthy ways to control stress and make those activities a priority. Even 10 minutes of meditation or yoga each morning can set the tone for a healthier day. Get outside when you can. Being in nature is calm and relaxing, which also reduces stress.


When winter hits, the cravings for high-carbohydrate comfort foods come with it. With fewer fresh foods available, you may fall into a rut with food choices and be tempted by unhealthy comfort foods. As the weeks move into the holiday season, temptations for unhealthy food grows and stress can increase emotional eating. Additionally, shorter days and cold temperatures make squeezing in your workouts more challenging.

What to do: Don’t let the holiday season sneak up on you. Make a plan and apply it as early as October. Choose when you will stick to healthy eating and what is worth a splurge. Plan for a busy schedule and how you will adjust your workouts. Find ways to make your favorite comfort foods healthier by incorporating more vegetables and fewer heavy creams and sauces.


As you transition out of a long winter, spring weather can be a motivating force to eat healthier and to get moving, but one thing could get you off track. After three months of sticking to your new year’s resolutions it may be tempting to give up, especially if you aren’t seeing the changes you expected. Heading into spring feeling discouraged may prevent you from taking advantage of outdoor workouts and seasonal fresh foods, and cause you to return to old habits.

What to do: Reevaluate your resolutions. Check your progress, and if you aren’t where you want to be, determine if your goals are on track. Perhaps you are expecting too many changes too soon or you are forcing yourself to do an activity you don’t enjoy. If your goals are no longer working, set new ones. Change up your routine to keep both your eating and exercise interesting and exciting.

Benefits of Reaching Your Healthy Weight

Benefits of Reaching Your Healthy Weight

A healthy weight is about more than the number on the scale. Reaching a normal weight for your height not only improves your health but it can change your outlook on life.

Improved blood pressure and blood cholesterol

When you are at a healthy weight, there is less strain on your heart. Weight loss of just 5 to 10 percent of your body weight helps to lower blood pressure, reducing your risk for hypertension. The habits you develop, like healthier eating and regular exercise, can improve your blood cholesterol. All of these factors work together to reduce your risk for heart disease.

Improved blood glucose

Insulin resistance is linked to being overweight and it can result in the high blood glucose that leads to type 2 diabetes. Weight loss and regular exercise can improve insulin resistance and control blood glucose, reducing your risk for the disease.

Improved mobility

When you carry extra weight, climbing stairs and walking long distances can leave you breathless. The extra stress on your joints can also cause knee and back pain. When you are at a healthy weight, moving becomes easier. Not only do you feel lighter and more energetic, but you may also experience less pain, making physical activity much more enjoyable.

Better sense of control

Getting fit is hard work. You have to be committed and learn how to navigate the ups and downs you experience along the way. Taking on this challenge and successfully accomplishing your goals improves your sense of control. You begin to accept responsibility for your choices and take your health into your own hands. These changes are empowering and lead to accomplishing more goals that may have once seemed impossible.

Renewed attitude

Being unhealthy can make you feel unhappy, and the resulting stress and frustration can affect your outlook and attitude. Reaching a healthy weight can change how you view your daily life and your future. It builds self-confidence and inspires you to help others who are facing the same challenges.

Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Fitness Goals

Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Fitness Goals

Ignoring nutrition

Exercise and nutrition both a play a role in improving fitness. The best exercise program won’t get you results if you ignore the fuel you put in your body. Not only will excess calories prevent you from losing weight, but an eating plan that lacks lean protein, vitamins, and minerals can make it more difficult to gain muscle and recover after tough workouts. In addition, filling up on foods that are high in refined carbohydrates can leave you feeling sluggish and hungry with little energy to exercise. Make your diet as much of a priority as your exercise, and choose a balanced eating plan that matchings your fitness goals.

Not allowing for breaks

Exercise is essential for improving fitness, but skipping breaks can have a negative impact on both your mental and physical health. Rest days give you a chance to reflect on your progress, refresh your outlook, and find new motivation. Physically, it allows your body to recover and grow stronger and helps reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Give your body the rest it needs, and enjoy the benefits of taking a day off each week.

Focusing on the long term

It’s good to have long-term goals that may take several months or even a year to accomplish. But sometimes when goals are set too far out, it can fool you into thinking you have plenty of time to meet them causing you to put off the hard work. Keep the long-term goals, but create a series of short-term goals between now and then. For example, if your goal is to run a half marathon next year, compete in a 5K and a 10K prior to the big race.

Skipping rewards

Little rewards, like new exercise gear or a subscription to a fitness magazine, may seem unimportant at first, but these small celebrations of your accomplishments can be a significant source of motivation. Planning healthy rewards along the way will emphasize to yourself that these changes have value. Whether the reward is big or small, always recognize your hard work and new healthy habits.

Comparing yourself to others

No two journeys to fitness are exactly alike. It's easy to compare yourself to others and wonder why your mileage isn’t building as quickly, your weight isn’t coming off as fast, or your abs don't have the same definition. While it’s good to have role models and people you trust that can offer advice, comparing yourself to others will only discourage you. Take things at your own pace, and evaluate the progress you have made. Compare your new self to your old self and not to other people.

Success Story: Aileen Lost 79 lbs!

Aileen S. Age: 45
Starting Weight: 234
Weight now: 155

What was the turning point that motivated your lifestyle change?

In 2008, I lost about 70 pounds, but I never actually reached my target weight. Over the next few years, I steadily put back on more than half of that weight. I was unhappy with myself and my ability to do things with my children and friends, like jump on a trampoline or go clothes shopping. In the summer of 2012, we went on vacation and I hated seeing myself in pictures. I had a now-or-never moment and decided that if I wanted to be happy, I needed to start doing things for myself and create my own happiness.

People want to know how I did it, and the answer is I believed. I believed in me. If I was going to be happy in my life and with my body, I had to do it myself. Between August 16, 2012 and January 16, 2013, I lost 44 pounds and hit my target weight. I had lost 79 pounds from my all-time, non-pregnant high. Why? Because I started to believe and insist that I could reach my goal.

How did MyFoodDiary help in your weight loss journey?

Writing down what I eat is a critical and non-negotiable part of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for me. I know some experts say not to write it down because “calories are not all created equally.” There may be some truth in that, but I know that for me, mindless emotional eating is probably my number one cause of weight gain. I also believe that at the end of the day, it is the simple math of “calories in vs. calories out” that rules my body. But I don’t always have a “journal” with me, nor my computer. To have an online journal that is always available and updated with all of the information I need, that is doing the math for me and keeping track of exercise, nutritional values, and water intake, is just essential.

Now that I have been at my goal weight for over two years, I sometimes get away from daily journaling. But as soon as I start to feel myself creeping away from my target weight, the first thing I go back to is MyFoodDiary and daily journaling. It’s not just about being accountable. I like to look at trends and be aware of things like, what average daily calorie intake helps me maintain my weight? Lose weight? And what does my average nutritional profile REALLY look like? MyFoodDiary is my infrastructure for a healthy lifestyle and my security blanket.

Describe your new, healthy lifestyle?

Even though I have maintained my goal weight for over two years, I still need to prove to myself every day that I can do this, that this is real. This is my thought cycle: I believe that I am a strong and healthy person, therefore I behave that way. It has become my reality. I drink water instead of other beverages. I try to incorporate vegetables into my diet wherever I can, especially into smoothies. In general, I try to reduce refined carbohydrates and processed foods and chemicals. I’m also aware that bites, licks and tastes have calories and add up fast! I sometimes get away from daily journaling but MyFoodDiary is always the first thing I come back to if I feel like I have not been paying attention to my nutrition and daily calories. There is no arguing with the numbers in front of me in black and white.

I incorporate some form of movement into every day. Some days I do cardio, strength, and stretching exercise at the gym. Some days I’m exercising on a pole, hammock or hoop in the aerial studio where I teach and train. Some days I just do cartwheels or yoga challenges, or park at the far end of the lot. But every single day I think about moving my body. It is not a chore, it is a privilege.

What has been your biggest challenge along the way, and how have you overcome it?

There are two obstacles that I have always allowed to dictate my level of activity and ability to be healthy: my five children and my bad joints.

It is easy to let my children’s needs and busy schedules come before my own, and for many years I did just that. I was showing them that my needs come last, including my health and happiness. Now they see a mom who moves and enjoys it. I have decided, no matter how busy my day is, I FIT exercise into it. A critical part of raising my kids is showing them that I matter too, as they will when they become adults and parents.

Also, I do not have good joints, most notably my back and knees. I’ve had several knee and back surgeries since I was 12 years old. My last orthopedist, seeing my x-rays for the first time, looked at me warily and said, “You do realize that you have severely advanced osteoarthritis, right?” I assured him I knew that. He explained that there was nothing left to be done for my knee except to wait for things to deteriorate to the point of replacement. What causes me the most joint pain are poor diet, lack of movement, and carrying extra weight, so I am simply done with those things. I respect the limitations of my joints, and train carefully. But I continue to train, move, and dance. Because when I stop moving, I’m done. And I’m not done.

What is one new healthy food, habit, or activity you didn’t expect to like, but once you tried it, you were hooked?

In February of 2013, having just reached my goal weight, I went to a pole fitness class at Vertical Addiction in Stamford CT, thinking I'd spin around looking graceful. Instead, it was hard, as in beyond-my-abilities hard.

Most of my childhood I was a competitive gymnast, and most of my life I have been a dancer. What I saw in that class inspired me: women of every age, body shape and background, who looked strong and graceful. I felt completely clumsy and incapable, but the other women seemed genuinely certain that I could do it too. I went back to try again. Today, I am a certified pole fitness and FlyGym instructor and I teach 3 to 6 classes per week. I also compete in regional competitions and have received bronze, silver, and gold medals in my age group in levels 1 and 2. Pole and aerial arts are my trifecta of fitness: a challenging full-body workout of strength and cardio, beautiful and graceful and never the same, and amazing women of every age and ability coming together to support and cheer for each other.

weight loss success

What has been the greatest reward of your weight loss success?

It is so much fun to go shopping, wear fun clothes, and even wear swimsuits with confidence. It feels good every day to move my body and feel strong and healthy. But by far my biggest reward is connecting with other women and helping to show them that they can achieve their health goals too.

For years I told myself “I can’t” and I believed it. I saw other women experience success and I had a list of reasons why she could do it – no kids, under 40, had less to lose, full-time athlete or celebrity – and I could not. I am done with that mentality, and with excuses. Women draw inspiration from me because I don’t have any magic bullet or easy excuses. I decided to do the work, and so can other women. Hearing that I helped inspire someone else’s success, no matter how small, is by far my favorite part of this journey.

What’s next? Any upcoming plans that were influenced by your weight loss?

My big plans are to keep going! I will continue competing, sharing, and teaching pole fitness and dance, and aerial arts. I look forward to summer and spending time in the water and sun with my family and friends. I hope to get busy on my blog and making more entries that will share my trials and successes. I want to get people talking about connecting their health and happiness and achieving their goals. I have one son leaving for college and 4 kids still at home, so the biggest part of my life is raising them and helping them create happy, healthy lives that include finding exercise that they love.

What is your best advice for others trying to lose weight?

I say start NOW. Do at least one thing today that you will be proud of tonight. How often do we fall asleep recounting our failures and bad choices? I know there is a long list of good, even amazing, things you do every day and never think about. Surely there are also habits and behaviors that make you feel badly, but you never really think about them, you just engage in them. So go through the day seeking opportunities to make a choice you will be proud of!

It doesn't matter if these opportunities are small. Because if you are anything like me, it is the accumulation of these small, mindless behaviors that are making you feel defeated. If instead you go to bed reminding yourself how you purposefully made one better choice for yourself, then you are going to bed with a positive thought. That will change everything, because the things you tell yourself are the most powerful things you hear. Feeling badly about yourself is hard work. Making positive changes on a daily basis is hard work. Choose your hard work.

5 Reasons to Hire a Personal Trainer

Reasons to Hire a Personal Trainer

A personal trainer is a certified fitness expert that can help you tailor your exercise to meet your fitness goals. While having a trainer is not a requirement to start exercising, a trained professional can help you exercise more safely and efficiently. If you’ve been on the fence about whether to seek out the help of a trainer, here are five ways you can benefit from this relationship.

You feel unsure of yourself at the gym.

The gym can be an overwhelming place. Unfamiliar machines, a lack of experience, and a room of fit people can be enough to make you want to turn around and go home. A trainer can help you overcome these discouraging feelings. He or she will show you how to navigate equipment and use it correctly to build the confidence you need to step up and grab a set of weights.

You have a long-term fitness goal.

When you sign up for a distance race or a fitness challenge, it can be difficult to know where to begin with your training. A personal trainer can help you evaluate your goals and create a timely program that will prepare you for your event.

You’re recovering from an injury.

When you return to exercise after an injury, safety is the number one priority. It’s important to ease back into exercise to gradually increase your strength and reduce your risk for injuring yourself again. A trainer will evaluate your current fitness level to find the best place to start. He or she can also provide alternative exercise ideas to help you avoid aggravating an old injury.

You skip workouts.

Hiring the assistance of a fitness professional means a commitment to exercise. If you often skip workouts, the financial investment and scheduled meetings involved in working with a trainer will help hold you more accountable.

You’re bored.

Repeating the same workout over and over can cause you to lose interest in exercise. Your workouts need to be exciting and challenging to keep you motivated. A trainer can provide new ideas for exercises and a creative program that changes as your fitness improves.

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