Sex can help keep off the winter weight

It happens, even when we swear it won’t — the winter weight creeps on like a hideous reindeer and snowflake design Christmas sweater. Those indulgent bites of fruitcake and sips of eggnog haven’t quite left your system yet and now all of a sudden you’re feeling like calling your thighs the F word — as in “other than slender.” Sigh.

Naturally, the last thing you might feel like doing right now is getting hot and super sexy in the bedroom, but there are a few reasons you should, even if you’re more comfortable leaving the lights off for a few weeks.

Though having sex burns calories, it’s not necessarily as many as we think, but it still plays a significant role in maintaining a healthy weight. As can often happen during the winter, we experience Seasonal Affective Disorder, aka the Wintertime Blues, which can lead us to craving carbs and comfort foods. The chemicals produced in the brain during sex — oxytocin, dopamine, seratonin — make us feel really good, not just during sex, but for some time afterwards. Though it may not seem like it will make a difference as you’re downing croissants and lattes and bitterly cursing your love handles, that romp in the hay will improve your mood and make you less likely to nosh on those leftover Christmas cookies. When that orgasmic chemical cocktail releases in your brain, you satisfy that same craving we often have for food.

Another factor we’ve discussed in this Sexual Healing series is how sex improves sleep. Extensive studies have shown that people who do not get enough sleep also are more prone to weight gain because of the stressful effect lack of sleep has on your body’s hormones. Leptin and ghrelin are the hormones that work to let your body know when it’s satiated, and after induced sleep deprivation, researchers noted the misfiring of signals from these hormones causing people to keep eating.

When hormones are balanced, we feel better and become more active (not just in the bedroom), which can also improve our moods and help us work off the winter weight.

Sex will help you love your body no matter what shape you’re in. Even though a healthy weight is important, being comfortable in your skin is even more essential. Feeling good about yourself this winter will help improve mood, regulate sleep and get you back on speaking terms with your thighs.

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Photo: Helga Weber courtesy of Creative Commons