The festive season can be busy and exciting. With so many events like family dinners, work Christmas parties, and the preparation and planning for gift giving, we have plenty of distractions to keep us from focusing on our health and taking care of ourselves as we normally would.
Once Christmas is over, many people experience a lull in their motivation to stay active. Some people begin to experience depression or feelings of anxiousness over heading back to work. Others let diet and healthy eating habits fall by the wayside. Often, given the weather, exercise is sacrificed for warm nights spent indoors with a hot chocolate curled up on the sofa.
The shorter days and colder weather means that finding the motivation to stay healthy and fit can be super difficult. And that can lay the foundation for a weakened immune system, posing a greater risk of developing illness or injury. No wonder they call it the winter blues!
Keeping Up With Diet And Exercise
The biggest risk to our overall health during the winter months is a lack of attention to diet and exercise routines. During the festive period, we find ourselves so busy finalising family plans, finishing up at work, buying and wrapping gifts and crossing everything off of our checklists that we forget to prioritise our healthy habits.
Not only all of that, but the chilly and dreary UK weather can also make it very difficult to find the motivation to get to the gym or head outdoors to exercise. The additional time spent curled up inside also means many of us snack more than we would typically at other times of the year, hello M&S biscuit selection and Aldi crisps…This combination can quickly add on the weight and reduce our happiness and self-esteem over time.
Maintaining proper diet and exercise routines is also necessary to ward off those nasty office bugs and colds. It’s definitely worked for me as (touch wood) I still haven’t caught any of the office colds!
Here are some of my winter diet and exercise tips to show you how to stay healthy and fit during winter’s colder months…
Calm Those Bad Carb Cravings
Please remember that carbs are not the enemy, but the cold season tends to ignite our cravings for more carbs and comfort foods. Why? After you consume these delicious treats, your serotonin levels rise, making your brain think you are happier. And as the day wears on, your carb cravings get stronger and stronger.
To counter this, try eating a protein-packed breakfast to keep your energy levels up throughout the day. If by the time the afternoon rolls around you’re still craving sweets or carbs, be sure to have some homemade healthy snacks on hand like my soft baked ginger cookies. However, if you can, finding a way to increase your serotonin levels without food is the best way to beat the carb cravings.
Add In Some Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Omega 3 fatty acids are a healthy type of fat that are naturally found in many food types including fish, seeds and nuts. They are great for reducing joint pain and stiffness as they are a natural anti-inflammatory. These fatty acids also help lower levels of depression, which people commonly feel during the shorter, darker days of winter.
Eat More Green and Orange Vegetables
Sticking primarily to vegetables and fruits that are dark green and orange is important in ensuring you’re getting healthy nutrients, sugars and fats. Spinach, kale, butternut squash, carrots and oranges are all delicious during the winter. There are plenty of recipes available online to incorporate these items into your regular winter diet. BBC Good Food have some fab recipes for this time of year.
Cook With Spices
This is a must for James and I during the winter months, as cooking things up with spices often warms our bellies. Onions, garlic, ginger and chilli are the perfect items to add flavour to your dishes. Not only do they make food taste great, but they’re also shown to help improve immune function. Turmeric is a spice used a lot in the winter months. Its main active ingredient is called Curcumin, which gives curry its yellow colour. This spice helps to combat a number of conditions including inflammation and heart disease, and it acts as a powerful antioxidant 🙂
Get a Workout plan or write down Your Exercise schedule a Week in Advance
One of the best things I’ve done to keep fit during the winter is to invest in a couple of workout plans. If you can do this then head onto YouTube for some fantastic inspiration and free workouts that you can do in the gym or at home.
Try to stick to a weekly exercise plan so you don’t put off your regular exercise activities. On Sunday night, write down your exercise schedule for the next seven days, including your rest days. Knowing what you’re scheduled to do each day ahead of time makes it easier to stick to. If you can, line up your workout schedule with a friend to encourage each other to stick with it and stay motivated! Having an accountability partner can really help you keep going.
If you have no desire to head to the gym for your workout, then don’t panic. There are plenty of free videos on YouTube that detail fun workout videos and exercises you can do with every day objects. There are a variety of workouts including yoga, strength training, aerobics and other body-weight exercises.
Staying fit and healthy in winter is still just as important as wanting to get that “bikini” body. Plus it also makes for getting back on track in the New Year that little bit easier!
What will you be doing this winter to stay healthy and active?