Winter is my favourite time of the year. I know a lot of people prefer the summer months, but I love it when it's time to get out the woolly jumpers and sit in front of the fire. However, the cold, drizzly, dark days can make it very hard for even the most motivated fitness goer to continue their fitness regime.
We associate the winter months with being cosy, hot drinks, and big meals with friends and family. Although it's essential to do these things, they can also all lead to undesired weight gain, resulting in a lack of energy and motivation. As a consequence, you will have to work that much harder to get back on track once the warm weather starts to make an appearance.
Have a Positive Mindset
So, for me it's all to do with our mindset, consider how you will feel at the Christmas party if you have an excellent training session earlier on in the day! And then compare it to how you will feel if you don't work out beforehand. I know that personally if I have a really good session before a celebration, my mood is so much better, I have so much more energy, I feel more confident, and I know I'll enjoy celebrating a lot more.
Asking yourself questions and focusing on how you want to feel can make a massive difference in the decisions you make during winter. So how can you stay fit and stave off the winter blues?
Take a Walk
If you have a gym membership, then it's all about mind over matter and getting yourself there consistently, but for those of you that don't, there are plenty of options available to you. For me, having two dogs means I have no choice but to get outside for some long wintery walks, which is a fantastic way to get some LSD (long slow duration) exercise and get the heart rate going. Not only will you be burning predominantly fat, you’ll also be using up more calories as you fight through the blustery weather, whilst your body struggles to maintain your core temperature.
Walking also releases endorphins, which will improve your mood, making it more likely you will want to continue that ‘happy’ feeling. I know I do!
Also, walking outside can help you get some essential vitamins. Just 15 to 20 mins of sunlight can help you get a good amount of Vitamin D, which is vitally important to keep your bones strong by helping the bones absorb calcium. On the flip side, staying indoors for long periods decreases the production of vitamin D in our bodies.
Exercise at Home
Exercising at home is another option and a perfect solution as the days shorten. Nowadays, little to no equipment is all that’s needed to get a fantastic workout and achieve your goals. At home, I like to work on my core, focusing on my inner core musculature to help support the spine, some balance work focusing on joint alignment and agility drills working on correct movement and posture.
Higher intensity circuits working at around 80% max heart rate are another great option. It means you'll be burning carbs as well as fat. This will help you to continue burning calories several hours post-workout, depending on the individual, which is good news for all.
As we all probably know, having a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals is very important for our overall health. However, during the winter months with more extreme weather conditions, our bodies experience more ailments, and we become susceptible to colds, flu, and possibly other health issues. It is therefore essential we focus on eating well and making sure we are getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals we need to get through the winter and boost our immune system.
As an easy rule of thumb, fill your plate up with lots of leafy green veg, beans, lentils, nuts, tuna, sardines, oily fish, plenty of citrus fruits, and berries. You will then be on the right path to waltzing your way through winter. Here is a list of particularly important vitamins and minerals needed during the winter months.
A powerful antioxidant protecting against free radical damage, chemicals, and pollutants.
Eat: Citrus fruits, berries, kiwi, strawberries, dark leafy veg, broccoli.
Helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body. These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth, and muscles healthy.
Eat: Eggs, milk, mushrooms, cod liver oil, Oily fish.
If you suffer from flaky, dry skin in winter, vitamin E oil will be your friend, it's often mixed with oils such as almond oil. As well as an excellent moisturiser, it is an antioxidant protecting our skin from free radical damage.
Eat: Nuts, oils, cereals, green leafy veg.
Great for tissue repair and the body's growth and development as well as supporting the immune system and eyesight.
Eat: Egg yolks, carrots, milk, tomatoes, tuna, sardines, green leafy veg.
An antioxidant that helps repair tissue, maintain hormonal balance, and support the immune system. A lack of zinc could contribute to you getting ill or feeling less energised during cold months.
Eat: Beans, pumpkin seeds, spinach, nuts.
Needed to help keep your mood bright during winter, also a great preventative for diabetes and heart disease.
Eat: Dark leafy veg, broccoli, beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, peas.
As always, it is vitally important to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated. For those of you that like to drink alcohol (especially over the festive season), it's always important to drink in moderation and not to excess, remember that alcohol is not a nutrient and has 7 Calories per gram! Occasionally swapping an alcoholic drink for green tea will not only boost your metabolism but also avoid unnecessary calories.
Eat well and make fitness and wellbeing a lifestyle choice, not a New Year's resolution. Wishing you all a wonderful Christmas and Prosperous 2020.
Flavia Cacace-Mistry - FCMFIT