Comfort Foods, Cold Weather, and Cozy Meals

In this episode of the MetPro Method, Coach Cat joins Coach Crystal to cover weight loss strategies during those cold winter months.

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I'm joined by MetPro Coach Cat Ramirez. We are discussing cold weather and how it can increase your appetite or at least feel that way. Cat, thank you so much for being here.

Thank you so much for having me back again. I always love being here. This is something that I was excited to talk about because I have had some experience with this both on living somewhere cooler and darker side of things, and then also with cold weather sports. This is an awesome topic to be covering.

I'm glad that you have experience with this because my first question is, does your appetite increase as it gets colder or does it just feels like it? Let's start there.

It could be 1 of 2. If you are somebody that is into cold weather sports, I used to do a lot of ice camping and climbing. You are in the cold weather. You are shivering. Temperatures are below freezing. You are spending quite a bit more calories and you do need that extra food. Yes, 100%. For the most part, when things start to get darker, we don't have as many daylight hours. It gets cooler. Where we are in sweater weather, nice and cozy. We don't burn any more calories than normal. You just want to be cozy. You want to feel warm. You are maybe not doing as much as you would during the months when it's warmer outdoors not moving around as much. Maybe that sedentary nature creates like, I’m bored but I’m hungry.

It could be a number of things. The other thing that we can also touch on is we don't drink as much usually when it's cold. When it's hot, you are in summer and when you are sweating, you think like, I’m sweating, I need to hydrate. It’s hot, I’m thirsty, but when it's cold, you are not sweating. You forget to drink or you are like, "I will have another cup of coffee,” or something like that. You get stuck in these dehydrating drinks that you are not hydrating yourself, and that can be confused with hunger as well. To answer your question, yes and no, but more often it's no. We don't need more, but we need to maybe think about making better and cozier choices.

I live in the Midwest and so we get some crazy weather swings. Sometimes it was a high of 80, but the low was 40. That's a pretty big swing in the middle of the day. When you wake up in the morning, the fireplace is on because we have the fake fireplace, but it still lets off the heat so it's still very cozy. I want an extra cup of coffee. I want sweaters.

By the afternoon, I'm ready to go outside and do something because it's nice out there. You are right. I ran outside in the morning and it was 45 degrees. I totally forgot to drink water when I got back because I didn't feel the same effort level as it does when it's 85 when I'm running. Even though it was only a couple of miles, I didn't feel the need to drink water.

We also want to think about where you are living. We got orders to be stationed in Washington state from North Carolina. We went from a tropical beach town to Washington. I had never lived anywhere where it was that dark or cold all the time. For me, I was like, It’s Washington. It’s the West Coast. This is great. The mountains and the woods. I'm from Northern California originally. I'm like, That’s great. We love that stuff. We are used to the scenery. I was not prepared for the fact that it was dark all the time. I was pregnant at the time, so that also was a factor.

I was like, “I don't know what to do with myself.” You hunker down, but it was so gray all the time. Literally, people would be like, “This summer is amazing.” We had a freak short summer and it was literally sunny for an hour a day from 3:00 to 4:00 PM. You have to wait the whole day, and then from 3:00 to 4:00 PM, you are standing outside. I wanted cozy and warm food all the time. There are things that we can do for that. We can absolutely have those cozy items and still be eating to plan or relatively to plan. It depends on what your specific goals are and what you are working on, or if you are working with a coach, what all that is, and how strict we need to be.

Is there a goal to have hot cocoa every day?

We can do that and I will tell you how to do that. It’s drinking things like that. Something warm and cozy. I like to do vital proteins and collagen peptides and it's chocolate. I have been talking to a lot of my clients about this because the weather is shifting in some places. Two scoops are going to be a tiny bit over 15 grams. It's about 20 grams of protein. One scoop is only 10 grams of protein. I do it in a small size cup and I do one scoop, and then I use hot water. You can also do unsweetened almond milk to make it a little creamier. I'm not even kidding. It is so chocolatey with one scoop. You are getting 10 grams of protein. There's nothing else in it that's going to throw anything off and you can end your night with that. That's something a little bit cozy and sweet.

Do you heat it up?

I do. I use a tea kettle.

That's what I was going to ask. How do you warm it up appropriately, so it doesn't do that weird thing where it scalds it and then makes it weird?

I use a tea kettle because I use water, so I put the protein inside and use a tea kettle with hot water. If you want to do the almond milk, then heat the almond milk until it is about at a boil, and then pour it right on top of it. You can do a little cinnamon stick if you want in there as well. That's something a little warm and cozy treat. Another thing I love especially this time of year, I'm a big ginger person. I tell people I'm like a type-A hippie and that if I ever did start a podcast, it would be a type-A hippie.

Those two things do not typically go together.

I like order and cleanliness. Not to say that those are not clean, but I lived in Santa Cruz for many years and I like order and things to be where they need to be. I'm very neat and tidy. I have a schedule and a schedule for the kids and whatnot. I'm super holistic in the fact that I go towards foods, herbs, spices, or more holistic measures whenever it comes to fighting off colds which is interesting because I have a background in the medical field. I do value Western medicine. I just tend to go towards the holistic stuff first.

I am always talking about drinking ginger tea. I'm boiling fresh-cut ginger with a lot of lemons in there. You can do some drops in there too if you want. That's not going to add anything to your day or your macros if that's what you are focused on, but there are a lot of health benefits. It warms the blood. Also, cook with a lot of ginger and garlic to warm the blood to keep your body healthy and fight off whatever might be floating around.

Those are nice cozy things that you can incorporate as well. The herbal teas are totally fine, as long as that's not your sole source of drinking water. We need to also be consuming the appropriate amount of water. I have a super hard time with that, especially in the winter. I will do hot water and squeeze a little lemon in it and nothing else. That's a way for me to get in. I will sip a hot drink all day long. Almost all day long in the summer. People make fun of me for it.

Do you drink hot drinks in the summer too?

I do. I love ginger and lemon. Hot all the time.

If you are going to have something that you enjoy all day long, that's a pretty healthy drink to have all day long. It's much healthier than my go-tos.

Other things that are cozy and totally on plan are your oats. That's completely on plan. That's super easy to make cozy. On our MetPro website, we got recipes and a few different overnight oat recipes on there. I believe there might be a baked oat recipe on there as well. Those are very cozy and very easy to make. You can do sweet or savory with your oatmeal.

You can absolutely use it later in the day and make a savory bowl and put some micro greens, avocado, and some other items like that to make it feel more bootable, and yet it still has that warming effect. Bootable in itself is great using the sweet potato or the quinoa for the carb. Some nice warm protein, whether that's chicken or red meat. You could go towards tofu or tempeh, and then get all of your greens in and mix it all up. Those are cozy meals as well.

Eating butternut squash instead of noodles when you are in a lower phase. If you are on a lower phase, that's great too. You can do nice fake spaghetti. It's warm, cozy, and comforting. Your red meat, if you are a red meat eater. Eating red meat during the cooler months is also great because it's got a lot of iron in it. We don't want that iron deficiency.

You can do soups or stews with that as well. I believe on the recipe site on our website, we also have a winter soup section. We got a few good recipes there. Lentils, if you are vegan are amazing too. All those things are so nice and cozy to eat. You can absolutely enhance your eating experience during the winter with those and stay warm.

When we eat and our body is digesting and processing it, that creates heat in our body. A lot of times people eat because they feel cozier or warmer after they eat. It's not necessarily the eating of the hot food itself, but it’s your body digesting it and creating that heat in the digestion process. That's another reason why people might turn to eating more frequently in the winter.

If I'm hearing you correctly, it could be that whenever we are cold, our body is looking to feel a certain way. By using foods that are warming, it can make us feel as if we are warmer, but we can be choosy about those foods. You don't have to go straight to all the foods that you grew up with to get that same feeling. You gave a lot of good alternatives for foods that I would probably gravitate toward. I came from a southern cooking household, so we have all kinds of things like chili, ham and beans, and things like that.

We have an excellent chili recipe over on the MetPro website also if that is your jam. You mentioned whenever you moved to Washington, that was a tough transition. That's what I took away from that. Is that due to the grayness? Did you have to struggle with any emotions or changes? A lot of people do get down during the wintertime. If so, did you have some strategies on how to avoid that?

You don't know what you don't know. This is the very first time that I have ever not lived on a coast. I live in Idaho, so I am not on the coast anymore. I grew up in Northern California, Santa Cruz beach, California weather, and then we got orders to North Carolina on the coast. It's a beach town. It's a resort town.

It's very warm and sunny. I spent every Christmas out on the beach. Hurricanes aren't great, but still sunny, and then we get orders to go to Washington. I had never lived anywhere like that. I didn't know. I was like, Northern California, we get snow and cold. We have all the seasons. It’ll be fine. It could have been the combination of the fact that I was newly pregnant. I had done IVF and so that in and of itself was a little challenging with the hormones and the shots.

I am also a very happy pregnant person. I feel like I’m at my best when I'm pregnant, which is surprising because I was an athlete before that and everybody was like, “You are going to have a hard time.” Initially, I did. I am somebody that loves being pregnant. I was like, “Maybe it's not this,” and it was right when COVID happened. California and Washington, all those things closed down completely. It was hard to move to a new state and then also transition into I can't meet anybody because it's Covid. We are indoors and we can't go places.

That's an isolation trifecta right there.

I wasn't used to being dark all the time. I didn't realize how much of a sun baby I am. I am somebody that needs the sun. I don't mind if there's a winter season, but it was an all-year gray. It is gorgeous and I tell Washington people, You guys are studs and there is so much to do there. It is very beautiful. For me, I had a super hard time and I don't know if it was seasonal depression or if it was a combination of everything, but I do know that seasonal affective disorder is a very real thing. I have clients and family members with it. It's something that we need to address and talk about. The biggest tool that I utilize and that I recommend is if you can get your hands on a happy light, do it.

Did that make a difference to you?

It did. I used to joke around and say, When I was in my early twenties, tanning was a big thing. You go to the tanning bed before your weekend in Vegas or whatever you are doing so you look good. It would be my best sleep ever. It would be in that twenty-minute tanning bed. I could sleep immediately into the best sleep ever.

Twenty minutes later, I'd wake up with this beautiful tan and feel so refreshed. It was amazing. That's not great for your skin. Skin cancer. We don't want to do that necessarily. My takeaway from that was I needed that sun to have my body feel peaceful and happy with those rays. Happy light did help. Also, when I was there, I got evaluated by a holistic practitioner, and she did chiropractic while I was pregnant too. I was very low in D.

Taking vitamin D or eating foods that are rich in vitamin D is going to help as well. D is not one of those things where you take it and then that day your D is up. D is something that takes a long time to get into your system and for that D to build up. It's something that you have to be consistently working at, and facilitating it with the K vitamin is going to be helpful as well. Those are all things that you can absolutely talk to your practitioner about whether it be a holistic practitioner or your primary care.

You can very easily get your level strong to see where you are with that. Other things, move. Get out and move and go outside. Even if it's not sunny, go outside because there are rays that will come through being outside in the fresh air. Even if it's cold, is going to make you feel better. Even if it's for a little bit. Get outside, move, and go on a walk.

If it's you live somewhere where it's far too cold for that, then move. Get on your Peloton, go to a class, and go to your local CrossFit gym. Go be around people or at least interact in some way. Get that movement in, release those endorphins, warm up your body, and do something good for yourself so that you don't sit and marinate in that gray.
Those things helped me a lot. I got super into cooking even more so than I already was. I have grown up cooking. It was a passion of my father's that he passed down to me. During COVID when we were inside all the time, I would figure out different things to cook for the kids and ways to incorporate vitamin-rich foods, vegetables and fruit into our day in creative ways.

Doing something like that where you are cooking and you are feeling what's on your plate is serving your body well in a healthy way can absolutely help. Having goals during that time and working towards something is helpful as well, so you don't feel you are marinating or stagnant in the gray. You are not motivated. You are not working towards anything. That can be detrimental to your mindset.

Last but not least, if it goes past that. Talk to somebody. Right now, there are so many resources available online. It’s so easy to get in and talk to a therapist online or go somewhere. In-person is a little bit more difficult right now, but there are hundreds of websites now on your phone apps where you can talk to somebody for 15 to 30 minutes to an hour, depending on what you need.

Stay on top of that. There's no shame in that. You have to keep everything healthy. I am very much for the entire body approach to health. It's not just about your macros. It's not just about working with your coach at MetPro. It's not just about your exercises. It's about everything. Mentally, you've got to be in a good place. You've got to be in a good place with your nutrition, your health, and your movement. Create steps and pathways for longer life and healthier life overall, not in just one single area.

The thing is they all build on each other. You were talking about don't marinate in the gray. If you move, then you have the motivation to work on a goal. It helps with that and then having this goal of something else you are working on, whether it be professional or personal. Working on that will give you confidence and feel good to move. They build off of each other.

I know that when I feel down, it's hard to get up and do things like that. I think that your advice as far as moving, you don't have to have this major goal. You can start small by getting up and going for that walk that you talked about. What a great suggestion. It's something that is so simple, but it's so effective. Sometimes the type-A personalities, I wouldn't call myself the hippie type-A, but I'm absolutely the type-A. Sometimes I have a tendency of it's got to be all or nothing. It's got to be this amazing huge goal or it “doesn't count.”

You've got to move forward every day even whenever you are not feeling your best because before you know it, you will be feeling better by taking those steps, and absolutely never hesitate to get outside help. If you were sick with pneumonia, you'd go to the doctor without thinking twice about it. If there's something going on that's making you not feel good in your head, no matter what it is, go to the doctor. They can help with that.

I love those commercials that are out. I forget what it's for, but it's a dude benching at the gym and he is crushing himself. This guy is like, “Do you need help?” He is like, “No, I don't want to let my family know.” Those commercials, I love them because they speak so well to the mental health aspect of everything, and how we need to be open and embrace that 100%. I am a 100% or nothing type of person as well. It was hard learning for me to switch from athlete to mom mode. Being a single mom where I have to like, I am everything.

It's a tough thing. I don't get to be my 100% where I feel like, “That was my 100%.” Adjusting expectations around that and having your support system. I don't need to go to a CrossFit box. I have a CrossFit in my gym. I own an affiliate in North Carolina still. I have equipment in my gym. We do distance programming.

Other CrossFit gyms do distance programming, but we have an interactive Facebook so you can interact with the members in interactive scoreboards. You are seeing those things. It's the same thing with Peloton. It's an interactive community holding you accountable. Find a buddy. It could be in a different state so you could texts back and forth like, “I'm heading out for this. You just got back. How did it go for you?”

At least you have that built-in accountability and community. If you are somebody who doesn't know where to start because you are like, “I don't know. I either have this soul-crushing three-hour workout or I don't know what to do with my life.” Go onto the MetPro app. We have got home workouts with no equipment. We have got HIIT workouts with no equipment. If you are like, “I'm in such a slump that I need to do anything,” go into the warm-up section and hit that and check it off. You did something for the day. Build on it each day.

We have an interactive Facebook group for our clients where they are posting recipes or things going on. You can interact that way like, “Who's hitting this workout with me this week?” All of that is good for you but also for someone else. I always tell people, You want to be that change that you want to see happen in the world. It's always written on everything. I have a canvas bag that says that, but it's so true. You need to be that change.

If you want to see a change in yourself, you might be that change for somebody else as well. Start small and you might be the person that changes somebody else's day, and then you guys are in it together. You guys are little battle buddies. You have to reach out for the help that you need. That's another reason why having a coach on concierge is so important, especially heading into the cold months. People are always like, "I got to take a break from concierge because it’s winter.” That's another thing. People expect to gain weight in the winter. You mentally put yourself there.

Don't put yourself there just because you can't see the abs or whatever it is or just because you are like, I’m wearing a sweater, nobody knows. That's still not a reason to let your health slip. Having a coach through the holidays where there is more temptation and where there are those hardier meals casseroles. You want to have a coach there to support you to be that accountable. People are always like, "I didn't make any movement during the holiday season. I just stayed.” I'm like, “Look at what might have happened if you didn't have a coach.” You probably wouldn't have stayed even. All those things, having accountability and someone to guide you is always going to be a good thing.

The winter months are the most challenging depending on what holidays you celebrate. It can be so overwhelming with all the get-togethers and everything. It is helpful to have a coach walk you through that and be there for your support. The goal doesn't have to be to even lose weight during that time. It can be to maintain and that's a win. At least it is for me.

Not fall into the trap of, “I don't know. I haven't moved for a month. It was cold. I didn't feel like getting up in the morning.” It could be for a variety of things. We are here for all things. Yes, we are nutrition-based, but we are here for all things. I'm sure you know and as coaches, we all know that we are not just coaches. We are not just like, “Add another piece of bread,” or whatever it is. We are talking to our clients about everything and anything because all is one.

I encourage people, even if it's for a little October, November, December, New year, or new me bundle to hop on. I think that is the most effective time to be on with the coach. A lot of people are like, “I’m gearing up for the summer. I want to look good for bikini season.” If you are already there, come spring, you are probably not going to have as hard of a time maintaining when it is warm and you can't get outside and all those things.

Setting that foundation and keeping a level playing field. How amazing would it be to keep this level playing field and then come New Year, new me, then you are like, “Let's kick it up a notch and you are already there. You can take it to the next level then. You don't have to wait until April to do that because you have to backtrack and repair all the damage that has been done.

If only. That's the goal right there. Is there anything else that we did not cover for cold weather that we want to make sure that we covered?

We spoke to touch on it a little bit if you are doing cold weather sports or you do live somewhere where it is very cold and you are still trying to maintain your sport in that cold weather. That will require a little uptick in calories, depending upon the training, weather conditions, and what your body is being asked to do. For athletes like that, I always say talk to your coach. Even though I know of these things, when I was competitive, I deferred to my coach for everything as a sounding board. I didn't try and do anything on my own. I coach all day and I want my coach to coach me so that I can be doing what's very best for me. We don't always know what's very best for us.

You second guess yourself.

Exactly, or you are like, No, and you are closed to a different way of being able to do something that might in fact improve your performance. If it is cold and you are doing those things, and you do require more in terms of calories, your coach can absolutely direct you towards the appropriate amount of calories to consume, the types of food you want to be consuming for that physical activity, and then nutrient timing around that physical activity or in that physical activity. Those are all things that can 100% be addressed with your MetPro coach or whoever your coach is for your specific sport.

Excellent advice as always. Cat, thank you so much for your time. That's all for this episode. You can find all the MetPro Method episodes anywhere you get podcasts or Please be sure to follow the show and rate and review. That lets other people know what they can expect. You can learn more about MetPro at I will be back next episode. Until then, remember, consistency is key.

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