Oftentimes during winter you’ll find a lot of health-centered articles and social media posts that focus on how to lose weight. But what if you’ve already achieved the weight loss you wanted or are on the way to reaching your target weight – worried about maintaining your progress, or struggling to stick to your healthy new habits?

Although most people embark upon well-meaning weight loss journeys during January and February, winter can be a challenging time of year to make changes in this area. On top of this any new lifestyle naturally takes time to integrate – as new pathways are formed in the brain and a fresh perspective on food and fitness is integrated.

The good news is you can continue to lose or maintain weight during the winter months with a little forward planning and determination. Although this initial transition phase can feel difficult, there are a number of things you can do to help maintain your weight loss goals during winter.

1/ Sleep well

A sound night’s sleep is a massively underestimated component on any weight loss journey. Without good quality rest, the body’s metabolism and appetite regulators can’t function properly. The body will naturally adapt and adjust to winter’s shorter days and longer nights, encouraging you to rest more while slowing down the metabolism.

Winter is a restorative season – so listen to your body and rest as much as you can. Try to sleep during the early evening when it gets dark, and wake up earlier to maximize your exposure to sunlight. This will have a positive impact on your sleep cycle and has the added benefit of preventing late-night snacking, which can often become a challenging habit during winter.

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2/ Choose winter-friendly workouts

During summer working out feels easier – we’re naturally more active, spending time outdoors more, moving more and meeting friends. But when winter comes around, finding the motivation to workout can feel more challenging. Several factors influence this – dark mornings and dark nights make it harder to find energy to exercise. If you’re someone who likes to run, jog or walk for fitness, poor weather conditions can prevent you from getting outside easily.

Find a time of day that works for you, when you feel most energetic and motivated to work out. You can also try working out at home – there are plenty of videos online both free and paid to choose from, or you can create your own HIIT circuit, or invest in a Peloton or similar set-up. Studies also show that buddying up with a friend or loved one to workout can supercharge your progress, especially during winter months.

3/ Redefine comfort foods

An indulgence every so often shouldn’t stall your weight loss progress – but in winter we tend to crave our favorite comfort foods more often. Colder temperatures can cause a change in appetite, causing us to reach for carb-heavy, processed, sweet or fatty treats. Rather than denying yourself on a daily basis (which can actually have the opposite effect, causing an obsession with food which heightens cravings), make healthy versions of your favorite snacks and meals. Focus on more generous helpings of healthy fats, proteins and vegetables. Fancy pasta? Try swapping regular pasta for wholewheat or lentil varieties. Craving ice cream? Try making nice cream with whole foods including bananas and coconut milk. Need a warming meal? Opt for brown rice instead of white rice and make a curry with yogurt instead of cream.

4/ Get outside

Although it can be tempting to hunker down and stay indoors during winter months, be sure to spend as much time outside as possible. For anyone working the 9-5 sunlight hours can become elusive – getting to work in the dark, then leaving work in the dark. Use your breaks or lunch hours to spend at least 10 minutes outside. If you can combine this with some light exercise such as a jog, cycling or even a walk, this can support your weight loss goals further.

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