As temperatures begin to drop, many folks start to notice the pounds creeping up. After all, this is the time of year when we start to crave comfort foods and cozy nights by the fireplace. But new research shows we may be able to avoid cold weather weight gain well in advance with one simple change.
A June 2019 study published in Obesity found that people can prevent weight gain — even around the holiday season — by weighing themselves daily. Researchers analyzed 111 adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who were randomly assigned to either weigh themselves daily or not between the chilly months of November and January. Turns out, the participants who did either maintained their weight or lost weight by the end of the study. Meanwhile, the folks who didn’t weigh themselves tended to gain weight throughout those months.
Interestingly enough, while participants in the self-weighing group were told to try and maintain their weight throughout the holiday season, they were given no specific instructions on how to do so. (Participants in the control group were given no instructions at all.) So researchers think the self-weighers must have decided for themselves how they’d modify their behavior if they noticed a small weight gain throughout the period of the study.
“Maybe they exercise a little bit more the next day (after seeing a weight increase) or they watch what they are eating more carefully,” said study author Jamie Cooper, PhD, in a press release. “The subjects self-select how they are going to modify their behavior, which can be effective because we know that interventions are not one-size-fits-all.”
Though more research is needed on this topic, it’s pretty exciting to learn how powerful self-regulation can be — especially when it comes to something like avoiding weight gain.
“People are really sensitive to discrepancies or differences between their current selves and their standard or goal,” explained second author Michelle vanDellen. “When they see that discrepancy, it tends to lead to behavioral change. Daily self-weighing ends up doing that for people in a really clear way.”