Karen Uhlenhuth never needed a calendar to know what month it was. She could tell by the number on her scale.

“It never failed,” says the 42-year-old writer from Kansas City, Missouri. “In mid to late November, I’d start gaining—usually about 10 pounds, 15 at the most. Then in April, I’d start losing.”

While Karen came to expect these seasonal ups and downs, she didn’t welcome them. Eventually, she made up her mind that they had to stop.

“It was fall 1996,” she recalls. “Winter was approaching, and I could feel the pounds creeping on again. I started thinking about how I never felt as well in the winter as I did in the summer, and I blamed the extra weight.” On the spot, she resolved to maintain her “summer weight”—142 pounds on her 5-foot-8′/2-inch frame— throughout the year.

A vegetarian and healthy eater, Karen knew her problem was a her activity level. “I’m a compulsive gardener,” she says. “In the spring and summer, I’d work outside until nightfall. But I couldn’t do that in fall and winter.” Likewise, she’d run 5 miles two or three times a week in nice weather. But once the temperatures dropped, she’d pack up her running shoes.

So she began changing activities with the seasons. When the weather put an end to gardening and running outdoors, she moved her exercise indoors, swimming at the local YMCA and working out on a cross-country ski machine at home. “It took some effort on my part,” she says. “There were days when I got home from work and all I wanted to do was eat dinner and lie on the couch. But I’d remind myself that if I didn’t want to gain weight, I had to move.

For Karen, staying active year-round made all the difference. She hasn’t noticed any seasonal fluctuations in her weight since 1996, when she launched her fall and winter fitness program. To this day, she maintains her weight at a healthy 142 pounds.

“I try to stay active, even though it’s much harder during the winter,” Karen says. “I just tell myself that as soon as spring comes around, I’ll be outdoors, doing all of the activities that I love.”


Keep moving, no matter what the season. It’s a fact that we humans tend to be less active during the fall and winter months, when the temperature drops and the weather turns nasty. Just like bears, we want to hibernate. Don’t let your fitness program falter at this time of year. Invest in some home exercise equipment or join a health club. If there’s a college in your area, find out whether its gym facilities are open to the public. Or take up an outdoor activity such as cross-country skiing, ice-skating, or snowshoeing, all of which are wonderful winter fat-and-calorie burners.


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