How to avoid winter weight gain

It all starts with Thanksgiving. You gobble down a few extra pieces of pecan pie and figure, what the heck, it’s the holiday season. Then you start wearing bulkier sweaters and layers as it gets colder and wham, you’re packing on weight and you might not even notice. Combined with the fact that it’s cold and dark, getting in your regular workout can be a real challenge come late fall. I asked personal trainer Dave Smith to help me (and you the readers!) keep off that winter weight this year.


KD: With the cold weather coming, what are some good ways to avoid putting on “winter weight”?

DS: “Gaining winter weight certainly is a real issue for many people here in Canada. It is estimated that a lack of physical activity, increased eating, and slightly depressed mood amongst Canadians leads to 2-5 lbs of weight gain during the winter months.

The good news? It doesn’t have to be this way! There are many things we can do before winter arrives that will help us stay active and fight off winter weight gain. Here’s what I suggest:

1. Find a Friend – Who do you know who might be looking to get more physically active this winter? Enlist him or her as your accountability buddy and both of you are far more likely to succeed.

Pushing off an exercise session is pretty easy when our willpower is the only thing prompting us to get it done. But, having a friend who is expecting to meet you for a walk or a workout is powerful accountability that can help keep you both on track.

2. Include the Family – Most kids are full of energy and would love to have mom or dad join them for some outdoor activity this winter. Set a weekly family time “appointment” that involves a fun winter activity such as skating, tobogganing,  or going for a winter walk on a local trail. This sort of physical activity is healthy for you, your kids, and your family relationships.

3. Join a Group – Sign up for a class or join a recreational sports league. The simple act of officially joining a group creates accountability that you can’t get on your own. It doesn’t matter what the group is as long as it involves movement. Try a dance class, yoga, indoor swimming, or find a jogging club that continues all year long.

4. Create a Back-Up – Sometimes Canadian winter weather does make it tough to get outside for exercise. That’s why it’s important to have a back-up plan that will enable you to get moving at home. Do some yoga moves while you watch TV or create a quick home workout that you can do in your living room (here’s one I often recommend).

It’s easy to say, “I’ll do it tomorrow” when you don’t know what you can do at home. Establishing a simple back-up routine makes it easy to get some exercise done regardless of how busy you are or what the weather happens to be.

5. Start Now – Don’t wait until winter is here. Start scheduling your winter activities right now so that you have time to build the rest of your week around them. Exercise is all about routine—anyone can exercise when they have a set plan and a scheduled time to follow that plan.”

Dave Smith is a certified personal trainer who was recently named Canadian Fitness Professional of the Year. He specializes in bodyweight exercises and interval training that can be done anywhere. Check out his work at

How do you stay fit in the winter? Share with us on Facebook and Twitter!