Dr. Murray Feingold: Time to think about 'de-hibernating'
Certain animals, like bears or bats, hibernate during the winter. Hibernation consists of a state of inactivity and slowdown of the body's metabolic system. In certain ways, some humans who live in cold weather regions also hibernate during the winter.
Their physical and outdoor activities decrease significantly. They spend more time on the couch watching television or sitting in front of their computers.
And, while they are just "sitting around" they tend to eat more and usually the food they consume is not very nutritious.
Usually, during the month of May these hibernating humans start to stir and think about "de-hibernating."
When they get more blood to their previously hibernating brain, they discover, to their dismay, that they have gained too much weight and are physically in very bad shape.
They realize summer is quickly approaching and that means their excess pounds can no longer be hidden by excess clothing.
I have not seen any scientific data on this, but I believe more people start dieting during the first week of January (New Year's resolutions) and in May in preparation for the summer months.
And here is where the "post-hibernators" make their first mistake. They go on a crash diet.
Most studies on this type of diet show they are usually not effective.
The second mistake they succumb to is over-exercise. This results in many aches and pains, stiff joints and, at times, various injuries.
Finding out that they can't lose enough weight in just one week, some give up, remain overweight and go back to watching television.
Others hang in there, go a proper diet and return to their pre-hibernating weight.
There is a lesson to be learned in all of this.
The body functions best when it remains stable at a normal level. The "yo-yo" effect on the body, such as weight going up and down, has been shown to be detrimental to good health.
So, start losing weight and exercising at a normal rate, and when you reach your desired and healthy goal, stay there.
And, remember this when the cold weather arrives next year.
If you determine that you can't face the cold weather, my only other advice is to move to Florida.
Massachusetts-based Dr. Murray Feingold is the physician in chief of The Feingold Center for Children, medical editor of WBZ-TV and WBZ radio, and president of the Genesis Fund. The Genesis Fund is a nonprofit organization that funds the care of children born with birth defects, mental retardation and genetic diseases.