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Preparing for Colder Weather as a Bariatric Patient

woman wrapped in scarf and winter jacket outside in winter weather

As the weather turns decidedly colder here in Las Vegas, we must understand how the many variables in our lives can affect our bodies and our continued weight loss. Undoubtedly, you’ve seen how seemingly obscure changes in lifestyle and circumstances can make a big difference in how we lose weight. The weather is similar. Let’s get into how to manage colder weather best so we can take advantage of it and maintain our weight loss or put it into high gear.

First, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t significantly modify your lifestyle or diet during cold weather without your doctor’s oversight. Also, if you have heart disease, cold weather can contribute to the temporary narrowing of arteries and blood vessels, exacerbating certain conditions. If you have any concerns about your health status, you should speak to your medical team to ensure your changes are appropriate for your medical circumstance.

Your Exercise

Exercising in the cold can be very rewarding. Walking or exercising in cool weather can help the body burn more calories and convert white (harmful) fat to brown. This is not to say that you should exclusively work out in the cold or seek out frigid days. Instead, getting outside and feeling some chill can be as mentally therapeutic as it is physically. Similarly, keeping the house comfortable but a couple of degrees colder can also be helpful as the body responds to cooler temperatures by warming itself up and burning additional calories. While you won’t see the difference over days or weeks, you certainly could over the next few months.

Watch Your Eating

Like swimming in the pool, the cold triggers your body to want to warm back up. One of the fastest ways to do so is by consuming food. You’ll notice you are likely hungrier after a day in the cold, but don’t let this fool you. Your caloric intake should be similar or the same as during hot weather. Many patients fall into the trap of eating more during the cold – a comfort food type of situation – that, unfortunately, only leads to weight regain. With that said, our bodies naturally develop an extra layer of fat during the cold months to keep us warmer. It’s a natural mechanism we cannot avoid, so do not be discouraged if you see a slight change over the next few months.

Stay Hydrated

We often think our hydration quota is less necessary during cold weather. This is not true, however. Your body needs a certain amount of water, which you can approximate as half of your body weight in ounces. This is true regardless of hot or cold weather. That said, particularly hot and very cold weather requires even more hydration than usual. Remember, your body needs lots of energy and loses water during extreme temperatures. If you’re well hydrated, you’ll go to the bathroom multiple times daily, and your urine should be pale and straw-colored. If you feel thirsty, you’re already dehydrated, so keep a water bottle nearby.

Be Sure to Moisturize

Las Vegas is cold and dry during the winter, which can wreak havoc on your skin. Remember that you are still losing weight, and your skin needs as much help as possible to stay supple and healthy during the weight loss. Moisturizing your skin gives it a better chance of tracking as you lose weight. Cracked dry skin is uncomfortable and works against your longer-term skincare goals. Consider having a humidifier in your bedroom to help with the humidity overnight.

The Bottom Line

While your body and mind may naturally want to change your routine during the winter, you should stick by your tried-and-true weight loss methods. If anything, redouble your efforts to stick to your post-operative routines this winter, and you will see significant gains. If you have any questions at all, we encourage you to bring them up during a postop visit with Dr. Tsuda, or if your question is urgent, feel free to reach out to Dr. Tsuda or Brian for information and guidance.