The Winter Fluffies are here

Does anyone else ever experience the winter weight gain, usually right after Christmas or between Christmas and the new year?

Every year it happens like clockwork. In January I hop on the scale and realize I gained some weight. It’s usually between five to ten pounds, which on a regular-sized person probably wouldn’t be noticeable. However, at five feet tall, I could have a chicken quesadilla from Taco Bell on Sunday and you still see it on Wednesday. I hold on to salt. I hold on to fat. I hold on to excess carbs and sugars. And I can really hold on to water.

Since Thanksgiving I’ve been eating all of that stuff. I’ve moved past the point of feeling guilty over things I really shouldn’t – such as hitting up McDonald’s in between errands and Christmas shopping – and during December I cut myself some slack, which inevitably leads to a moment of truth once I hop back on the scale the first Monday in January.

Before anyone comments that scales aren’t always accurate, I also measure my waist before hopping on the scale. Objectively, I can state that I indeed have a case of the Winter Flufflies.

Winter Fluffies aren’t noticeable to strangers, but they’re definitely something the afflicted can see. Clothes that were comfortable or relaxed are tighter. Bras cut in on locations they typically don’t, and I don’t even wear underwires. My midsection definitely feels like a sausage trying to burst out. Thankfully I have plenty of loose fitting shirts that don’t betray me, but whenever I sit down, I can feel the truth pinched against my waistband and it’s not comfortable at all.

That doesn’t even start to cover my face. My face shape is round, and any weight goes to my cheeks. Thankfully natural aging and the precursor to runner’s face – that’s what beauty magazines call the gaunt look runners can develop once they drop below a certain body fat – have helped reduce the appearance of baby face when I don’t have the Winter Fluffies. However, once the fluffies are back, my cheeks don’t lie.

Off-topic question: who convinced all these middle aged actors and actresses face fillers would make them look younger? Your age is your age, and these people all look like middle-aged beach balls. Nobody confuses them for a 25 year old. But I’m really digressing.

Last year after gaining five pounds – which looks like 15 on a short gal, frankly – I panicked and slowly lost the comfort eating weight. I know what I need to do, which is keeping my food journal and removing useless calorie foods from my place so I can’t eat out of boredom. Believe it or not, the former is harder than the latter, but that doesn’t make the latter fun.

Slowly but steadily I lost weight and kept it off for about eight months. My boyfriend and I were still enjoying the occasional meal out and I was exercising regularly, so I was feeling pretty good in my skin. Then before we knew it Thanksgiving was here and the festive tornado that is the month of December was upon me. So we’re back to square one of discovering the Winter Fluffies and starting a plan to shed the weight.

I would love to be able to offer advice for folks trying to lose five or 10 pounds, but in all honesty, I’m constantly having to adapt and re-adapt my own habits with each new year. Some things I could eat in moderation are now in the no-go zone, since my self-control is nonexistent. The big examples: tortilla chips and candy. Some things are now off limits only because my system is changing with age and I’m discovering I can’t tolerate certain foods now that I could growing up or in my early 20s. And then there are things I can eat in moderation that early 20s me would never touch with a 10 foot pole (my college eating habits left a ton to be desired), such as bell peppers for a snack or almost any root vegetable.

The only piece of advice about weight loss/maintenance and healthy living that I’ve found to be true is that you (referring to myself here) cannot outrun or out-train a bad diet. In college I had time to kill in the gym and walked everywhere, so I felt invincible when breakfast was a personal to-go pizza or lunch was a gigantic quesadilla. After all, I burned a ton of calories in the gym doing my high-volume low-weight reps and I would have a salad with a lot of cheese and Italian dressing for dinner, so those two meant the unhealthy breakfast or lunch was cancelled out, right?

That may have been right for College Allison, but Adult Allison and her desk job post-college life had something else to say. Even marathon training couldn’t save me from dumb eating habits and the constantly bloated stomach.

Which brings me to right now, sitting at my desk with my Winter Fluffies and reflecting on things I’ve done well and could do differently this month. For starters, I’m proud of myself for sticking to the run streak. On Day #5 I did not feel like going outside in the cold, and I already knew my pace would be slower. However, the drive within me is bigger and far louder than the little voice in the back of my head that wants to make excuses. I bundled up, said a quick good bye to Marina the guard cat, and then dragged ass through my complex until I made it to the planned four miles.

My eating habits are definitely going to need some reining in, but I will say I’m proud of myself for buying the largest size bag of lettuce. I’ve decided lunch is going to be a salad with two healthy sides if I’m overly hungry, and dinner will include side salads with plenty of cut up vegetables in them. It turns out cutting up vegetables and tossing them in a salad is a highly effective way to make sure I actually eat the recommended serving sizes of veggies. Eventually I’ll get back on track with measuring portions and food journaling, but for this week, gradual changes are making the difference.

The Winter Fluffies are here for now, but they won’t be staying indefinitely. I’m going to make sure of it.

I appreciate you all reading today’s post and for going along for the ride. Show today who’s boss.

Yours in writing and running,

Allison

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