As nurturers we are plagued by discouragement through the winter months as we try to fight against nature. By February many New Year’s resolutions are broken, particularly those about weight. Winter months, especially in colder regions, are not ideal for losing the holiday poundage. Think of mama bear who eats heavily prior to hibernation. Her fat stores provide warmth and nourishment during her isolation. Humans do not have the instinct to hibernate but we do have the instinct to semi-hibernate based on natural cues of the season.
As days are shorter and darker in late fall we crave more meats, richer comfort foods, and even sweets. We also crave more sleep and a slower pace of life. The holidays have become a time of overindulgence in food and entertainment and an even higher paced life than we usually engage in.
The holidays in ancient times were celebrations of the harvest and light. Human survival depended on fat stores for warmth and encouraged a slower pace while the earth rested from production. Humans spent this time mending tools, making clothes from materials they harvested, and doing only the work that was necessary for survival.
In contrast, our society today encourages us to spend long hours engaged in multiple tasks with many distractions and expectations looming over our weary heads. Sleep is diminished in quality and quantity. Sleep deprivation decreases our abilities to lose weight and be energetic–less zzz’s mean more belly rolls.
Winter is meant for semi-hibernation. Our thrival, the ability to go beyond survival and thrive, depends on our ability to semi-hibernate. We can sleep more by turning off multiple distractions and entertainments and go to bed early. Doing one relaxing thing–read, listen to music, or meditate–may enhance our ability to sleep better. Resting during the day by eliminating distractions can also increase your thrival.
Unlike animals who decrease food consumption during hibernation, we semi-hibernators need consistent nourishment. That isn’t a go ahead for pie. We can eat healthy nutrient rich foods to sustain us. Thrival is achieved when we sleep more, eat healthy, and engage in moderate exercise. So have some soup, cozy up with a good book and save losing weight for the Spring when most mammals naturally shed their winter poundage.