For many people, winter seems to bring a certain degree of weight gain. The introduction of cold weather comfort foods, sugar laden warm drinks, holiday party overload combined with the tendency for decreased physical activity can lead to the packing on of a few extra pounds. However, it's not necessary to succumb to these "natural" tendencies. My preference is to retrain my mindset: Instead of focusing on the possible causes of unhealthy weight gain during the winter months, use the off-season and crummy weather as an excuse to hit up the gym more and put on some muscle mass!
With the plethora of diets and weight loss schemes available on the market and internet these days, it's a no brainer as to why we're all confused about how to take care of ourselves! But, taking steps towards a healthier lifestyle doesn't have to be overly complicated.
As a dietetic intern, I had the unique opportunity of promoting a wellness program called 9-5-2-1-0 © in Winchester, VA. The purpose of the initiative was to prevent and tackle the issue of childhood obesity. 8-5-2-1-0 © is the adult version of this same initiative and the numbers represent some simple health concepts to improve your overall well-being:
8 - Aim to get 8 hours of sleep per night
5 - Eat five servings of fruits and vegetables per day
2 - Limit screen time to 2 hours per day (TV, computer, etc)
1 - Aim to get 1 hour of physical activity per day
0 - Eliminate intake of sugar-sweetened beverages
These number are a great reminder that health and nutrition don't have to be as complicated as we sometimes make it out to be! Keeping these simple principles in mind each day can help you to move in the direction of living a healthier lifestyle, improving your overall well-being and quality of life and preventing long-term disease risk.
For more information on the 8-5-2-1-0 © program for adults (or 9-5-2-1-0 © for youth), check out the Northern Virginia Healthy Kids Coalition at: http://tippingthescales.net
Kristen Chang is Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN), Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics (CSSD) and triathlete residing in southwest Virginia with her husband and dogs. Follow along as she shares favorite fueling recipes, general wellness and sport nutrition tips and stories from her athletic endeavors.
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