Confession: I Gain a Few Pounds Every Summer

By , SparkPeople Blogger
I lost 40 pounds five years ago, and I've kept it off since then. That doesn't mean it has always been easy. I put on seven pounds during the last six months at my old job due to stress and a hectic schedule. I lost it after coming to SparkPeople, but I will admit that my weight is more of a range (plus or minus three pounds) than a firm goal.

Recently, I noticed a trend: Every year, I usually start to reach the upper end of my weight range during the summertime and the lower end in wintertime. (I weigh myself a couple of times a month.) I'm not a beach-goer, and I don't wear shorts or skimpy clothes except to run, so I have never been one to worry about getting in shape for a bikini. Still, I do pride myself on eating right most of the time and sticking with a regular exercise routine.

At various times of the year, depending on my schedule, my mood, and other outside forces, "regular" exercise and eating "right" take on various meanings. Sometimes that means workouts almost every day, or it might mean working out just four days a week. It might mean home-cooked, from-scratch, veggie-heavy meals every night, or it might mean splurging on sweet potato fries at dinner, making do with a bag of carrot sticks and hummus on a road trip, or ordering a mushroom-and-peppers pizza because I am just too tired to cook.

Since I completed my first half-marathon late this spring, I haven't set another fitness goal. I've been running and practicing yoga, with some strength training and cross training, but I haven't been as focused on my fitness. I had spent 18 months working toward progressively larger fitness goals: yoga teacher certification, then my first 5K, 10K, and that half marathon. I don't cope with heat well, so I ultimately decided to take the summer off from training. My mind and body needed a rest.

As a result, I've put on a couple of pounds. My middle feels softer, even though I know the rest of me is stronger from all the yoga, dancing, and walking hills in Istanbul.

I'm OK with all of that. Want to know why?

I'm happy. I'm busy. And I am loved.

That has nothing to do with numbers on a scale.

Instead of Sunday afternoon runs with my girlfriends, we've been meeting for yoga at my house, and visiting the farmers market, wine tastings, and the city's center for concerts. Instead of heading home early on Friday nights, I've been staying out for dinner and live music or cocktails, enjoying cool breezes and long conversations. Instead of running on Tuesday nights, I've been doing whatever I want, sometimes skipping a workout in the process, sometimes taking a walk with my boyfriend. I've been enjoying life.

I went from six or seven days of working out to four or five. My calories burned have been cut in half. I'm still fit and active, but when you're not running long distances, you don't need all those calories.

Instead of obsessing about what I eat or starting a crazy new fitness routine, I'm staying calm. I'm working out regularly, eating right most of the time (though less often than usual some weeks), and trying to make smarter, healthier choices more often. My clothes still fit, I still feel good about myself, and my self-esteem hasn't suffered.

I also feel better knowing I'm not alone. I

I reached out on Twitter, and at least a dozen women responded. Even other healthy living bloggers agreed!

"For some reason I always feel hot and gross and somehow I think FOOD will make it better, said Sabrina. "But then I just feel more hot and gross! I am probably constantly dehydrated or something. Also, there are always so many fun things to do and foods to eat and weddings to attend, and in the winter I just don't do those things. All winter long I drink lots of tea and hot water and prefer to stay in and play board games or go snowboarding etc."

Julie joked: "I eat more in the summer to prepare for winter hibernation. Apparently I'm part bear."

Like Julie, I thought that I might eat more to store up for winter, as an evolutionary response. Our healthy eating expert Tanya said that these days that mindset isn't as true as it was in decades past, people tend to be more active and eat less in summer.

She actually says the extra pounds are packed on because of life. "My summer weight gain can be attributed to a fuller social calendar," said the Orlando resident. "barbecues, summer birthdays, vacations & weddings = Lots of indulgent meals!"

For Courtney, summer means "barbecues & parties, fun summery drinks, soft serve, and a more carefree attitude! Since I teach, my day and meals are also less structured."

And Meghann has plenty of reasons: traveling being her No. 1 reasons, too hot to exercise outside, race season is over in Florida, fun food festivals, and ice cream.

Like many of the bloggers, my gain is attributed to being more social but less active, too. (Tanya agreed with me.) I'm running less often because I am sensitive to the heat, and because I stay up later to enjoy the daylight and cooler temperatures late at night, I'm sleeping in instead of working out in the morning.

Now that I know that I gain weight every summer (and that I'm not alone), I don't have to worry about it as much. Those numbers, while slightly higher than they were a few months ago, mean nothing to me. They don't reflect the past few months of my life: my first house, my trip to Turkey, the car accident I survived. My abs are fluffier, but my full social calendar tells me that the size of my waist is not why people like me.

I've spent too many years obsessing about my weight to stress about it now. I'm back on track, and I refuse to worry about the extra squishy bits around my belly and hips. Instead of loathing my curvier frame, I play up my positive attributes. The empire-waisted sundresses I favor in warm weather regardless of my size accentuate my strong, toned shoulders and long legs. You might not find me in a bikini and short shorts, but you wouldn't catch me wearing those even if I were at my absolute thinnest. It took many years to arrive at this point, but I'm no longer willing to obsess over my appearance. I have too much else to do, like go swimming with my friends this Sunday--in a one-piece swimsuit that makes me feel quite comfortable and confident.

Yoga at the ruins of Ephesus, not caring about how my belly would look in a bathing suit!

Do you gain weight during a particular time of year? Do you ever give yourself permission to relax a little when it comes to weight, fitness, and nutrition?

Follow stepfanie on Twitter

Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints


I always gain a few pounds starting in October. My birthday, Thanksgiving, Halloween then all the Christmas goodies!! But every January I get back to normal and lose again. I also call it my weight range! Report
thanks Report
thanks Report
I always assumed that "summer weight" (for me, 2 - 3 pounds) was due to the effect of humidity. I find I weigh less in the spring and fall. I gain 2 - 3 pounds in the winter, which I attribute to inactivity, especially when the weather is warmish and I can't ski or snowshoe.
Interesting article, I am the opposite, I tend to gain weight in the winter like a hibernating bear. Report
thanks for sharing Report
Thanks for sharing. Sounds like you really have it together! Report
I am up and down 3 to 4 ls as well Report
Love, love, love Report
A great blog! Thank you! I really enjoyed reading this one. Report
I seem to gain more in the winter,though still within my healthy range. Lately it’s been harder to get it off, though. Report
Oh wow! Thanks for informing me that I am not, in fact, crazy!? I thought it was "just me"! I don't tolerate heat very well either. (Really hard to get me to actually break a sweat. Usually I just get hotter and hotter and redder and swell up and feel sick as a dog if I go "too long" which is apparently about 10 or 15 minutes.). Report
It's great that you are comfortable with your body. I think there is NO problem with weighing more (or less) while staying within a healthy range! There is a problem, however, with letting your weight "yo-yo". It sets you up for all kinds of health problems. If you are eating a consistent amount and staying with your exercise (albeit less than you use to) your weight should stabilize and NOT yo-yo up and down over each season. Report
Thanks for making me feel better about the few pounds I have gained over the summer! I thought I was the only one this happened to! It's so true, with the warmer weather, we tend to socialize more and there always seems to be lots of food events! I feel so much better and less guilty after reading this! Report
You're so right, I don't obsess anymore, like I used to. I try to do my best, love to exercise, and now that it is fall, time to take off extra summer weight.
I'm nuts for yoga myself, and you sure do get an excellent body from doing it. Since you lift your own body weight, in many of the poses, it's sure not for wimps. I've been at it since I was 20 and I'm 63 now. Keep up the good work, love your blog. Report
I love your attitude and the picture of you doing Yoga at the ruins is AWSOME. Report
congratulations! you are where most of the rest of us want to be, both physically and emotionally. Report
I'm so busy with haying, gardening, canning, weddings (I'm a harpist) that my summers are not like they used to be. In the past, I loose weight easier in the summer, I'm out walking a lot more and warm! But lately, I NEED to eat the third meal because of the work I'm accomplishing. So, I don't loose. Come winter, I can bundle up and go hiking on the snowmobile paths, miles and miles of silence, thru the woods. That is how I loose weight in the past couple years. At this point, status quo for summer: no gain, no loose. But have a LOT of fun! Be spontaneous! Relax. Winter comes quickly here in Maine!!! Report
You look beautiful and happy....relax! Report
I'm happy. I'm busy. And I am loved.

That says it all, doesn't it? ;) Report
Living in MN where the winters are cold and dark, I tend to put more weight on (+ or - 5 lbs) in January and February. When the weather gets nice, I am able to work out more and lose that weight rather than hibernating. Report
I don't really gain more weight during certain periods of the year. In general, I try to keep my weight fairly stable. Does my weight have fluctuations ? Yes. However, as long as I know I'm eating properly, I try not to freak out if the scale has a higher than normal number. I've learned over the years that I can easily "gain" 3-4 pounds in a day. So, if I'm retaining water, I could be as much as 5-7 pounds heavier one week.

Water weight fluctuations are the reason I don't weigh myself every day anymore. Report
Having a range instead of a single weight is just fine. We put different demands on our body in the seasons, and you'd expect your body composition to change so as to keep pace with that. The key thing is that you are choosing to be the size that you are, and you're happy and healthy (plus you look great). You may originally have been setting a goal of being smaller than is good for you! Great blog - it's neither an apology nor an excuse, just a pure expression of being comfortable in your healthy skin :) Report
Good Blog: This is a great attitude you have. I think we all gain and lose from time to time, even when we are eating healthy and exercising. I am not sure about the time of the year. With me it just revolves around family events. My only problem with that is, if I am not very careful my weight kept going up and doesn't go back down. My willpower just wasn't there. My sister who has never had a weight problem always lived by a rule which I was never able to master until now. Whenever she noticed a small weight gain she would be very careful for a while, lose it, then continue on as before. So she always stayed about the same weight most of her life. But now that she is older she is not finding it as easy to take off. I guess we all come to that time when it becomes more difficult. Thank God I found sparkpeople. It has been a blessing. I am eating healthier than I ever have and losing weight. After I reach my goal. Just 5 more lbs. I will try to continue eating healthy, exercising and maintain or lose more. If I lose more it will just be a bonus. Thanks for sharing. Report
For me, keeping track of what I eat has always been a challenge, and summer makes it even more so! Report
Nope, I put on weight in the winter when the cold weather keeps me indoors more trying to get warm by eating. At least I'm aware of it and do my best to fight it....otherwise I would reach every spring looking like an elephant. Report
Thank God! I thought it was just me that had a harder time during the summer to stay on task! Report
Love your blog! Report
I can relate to summer weight gain. I always thought I went against the grain...maybe not so much after reading your blog! Ice cream and a fuller social life are my culprits! Thx. for sharing! Report
Such a nice, honest, well-written blog! Thanks for sharing. Report
GO you, Stef!! This article was fantastically written!! Thank you for sharing and letting others know that it's "okay" to enjoy yourself and be thankful for the people and things in your life!! :-) Report
I ALWAYS gain weight in the summer due to more social stuff, more fatty stuff (Ice cream, fresh pies) and the fact that I can't tolerate heat so I am less active outside when the temps hit 80. I just know that I'll be okay if I continue to eat healthy and still do some sort of exercise. Being knowledgable about one's own body helps to not get bummed out about gaining the few extra pounds because I know they'll come off soon! Report
I usually gain weight in the summer also. I think it is because it is so hot and humid, I am not as active. I am very proud of myself this summer, though, because I am maintaining my weight. Hopefully that means that once summer is over, I will lose some! Report
Thanks for the encouraging perspective. Funny thing though - I am a transplanted Southern, having grown up in Florida, I now have spent the last 30 plus years in the north. I have the reverse problem ... every summer I lose weight and every winter I put some back on. Winter in the north means less outdoor fun, play, walking, etc and more baking, and sitting with an afghan and many cups of tea. Winter brings out my best cooking/baking qualities and breads, soups and casseroles seem to find their way to my hips. (LOL) The good part is this, when I finally realized the problem, quite a few years ago, I set a goal: EVERY spring/summer when I get back into my exercise/walking routine, I Have to lose more than what has been gained in the winter just ended. So ... having realized that goal, I am now 42 pounds lighter than I was 5 years ago. Set those goals, sparkers! Report
I do gain during festive seasons though.. only to have to work extra hard the next few months to get back to shape :/ Report
I'm at my lowest during summer because I'm often out on my bike. I love having goals like the MS-150, the Copper Triangle (80 miles, 6000 feet elevation gain) and maybe a Century (100 miles). Even today, with no goal on the horizon I rode 33 miles with 4300 feet of elevation gain - just for a fun challenge to myself. In the winter I snow shoe, but most often I go to the club. I do a better job weight training in the winter, but my cardio goes way down. Who wants to be on an elliptical or stair stepper for 2+ hours? Not me! Report
you described my summers to a "T". i have been trying not beat myself up--much... Report
I tend to pack on a couple of extra pounds during the winter months! I love to be outside during the summer, but winter finds me on the couch with a good book and some hot cocoa. But each summer I get back at the sports that I enjoy and the pounds melt off (13 lbs. this summer) and I only gained 2 over the winter months. Not a bad exchange if you ask me. Report
Thank you so much! I'm getting a blog ready about this very topic and reading this has made me smile! Report
THANK YOU...I couldn't say more - you made me feel normal and less obsessive! Report
Yes! And GUILT never helped anyone to really keep the weight loss forever either, so I don't waste time doing that either. My weight goes up and down 4 lbs., I keep an eye on it, but not obsessing anymore, no more "woe is me". Report
I just blogged about this! I felt bad for months because I kept thinking about how last summer I was at my lowest weight and maintaining until the winter came. I celebrate my birthday in December and besides the holidays, I LOVE warm sweets and have a really hard time getting out of bed in the morning when it's dark and cold out. (Especially to run!) So I gained 10 pounds over the last 9 months or so. I'm back to weight loss mode, but being wiser about it this time around. I, like you, see now that the weight I put on was a result of good times. lol and I'm still healthy and active! Cheers to you! Report
I always eat less and do more in the summer and usually lose about 15 pounds. SInce beginning to SPARK seriously in January I have lost 20 pounds and now find myself stalled out at that weight. What is that all about? I think I am still in the process of finding out what works for me and what my body really need. I will say that I'm feeling better than ever this summer even though I still have another 60 pounds to lose. Report
Thanks for sharing your story Stephanie. It's funny because I too feel as though I gain in the summer. I think ice cream might just be the sole reason. :) Report
You have a great attitude. Thanks for this has helped me see that my goal weight may be out of range for my current life style. I am 8 lbs from my original goal weight but I fell and look greats so maybe this is my perfect or minus a few lbs. I am with you on the summer weight gain...I keep going up and down a few lbs depending on what fun summer activities I am going...parties, farmers markets, bbq's. Report
I have to be grateful for this blog because I've gone through a huge life change in the past three years. My life fitness goals are still the same but they've had to be on hold for awhile due to unmitigated circumstances. The way seems clear now, I'm not anxious and I'm looking forward to taking the steps I need. Report
I am just the opposite. I love being outside, walking, gardening, and the heat seems to make me less hungry. I am more apt to gain weight in the winter! Report
I agree! Even though I live in Minnesota where winters are cold, the summers are hot and humid (especially this year). I exercise a lot in the summer, but also find I plateau or gain in the summer. I work with the school calendar and have summers off. For me, having less structure in the summer, more cabin time, more late nights contributes to my struggles. You look great! I am happy you are at a point of moderation instead of letting the scale run your life. You have got it!!!! Report
I'm finding it hard to eat healthy because I don't want to cook when it's so hot! You would think that summer would be easier :-) Report
Great blog. Its seems you got to know yourself well and now live a well rounded and balanced life. Although we should be concerned with what we eat and live a healthy lifestyle, we should not obsess about it. Report