My Hot Top 20 Tips for Staying Fit and Healthy this winter
It happens every year around this time: The winter woolies start appearing everywhere and everyone in your general vicinity enters that pre-hibernation mode, storing up extra body fat for the frozen months ahead and getting ill. They guzzle calorie-rich foods and drinks, cocoon in the evenings because it’s too cold and dark to go to the gym or workout outside, and skip workouts and classes because there just isn’t enough time for them in days that are already jam-packed. By the time spring or New Year rolls around, they feel compelled to make resolutions about regaining the fitness they’ve just squandered away.
You, of course, don’t want to be like that–not this year, at any rate. But faced with all the peer pressures, time pressures and family pressures of the winter season how exactly can you stand up to this onslaught and keep your training habits on track? Well I’m here to help. This is part one of a three part article on some tips to keep you healthy during the winter months. Follow my top 20 tips to start off with, and you’ll keep your own fitness ethic going while the people around you are finding reasons to lose theirs.
Your challenge: Slowing Down
1. KEEP PUMPING.
What the other guys and girls do: Without realizing it, they start skipping workouts (or stop exercising entirely) in winter, then struggle to get back in condition in Spring and summer, devoting the first three months of the year to regaining their condition. What you’ll do: Decide now that you aren’t going to turn into a slob just because it isn’t shirt-off season. Make steadfast rules for when you’re going to hit the gym or hop on your home equipment, and stick to them. If you end up missing a session for any reason, make it up immediately.
The benefits: It’s easier to stick to a fitness program than it is to start up again after months of inactivity; and you’ll start the New Year improving on an already tight physique. It’s a lot easier to maintain than to rebuild.
2. LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR TIME.
What the other guys and girls do: Suddenly discover that in the midst of holidays, family visits, vacations and other time demands, they simply can’t squeeze in that day’s workout. What you’ll do: Make a schedule for the next few months that includes all your work, home and family obligations, and pencil in exercise sessions just like any other appointment. If you have to, go on a “maintenance” schedule: Work out, say; three times a week instead of five so that while you may not build new strength, you won’t be losing ground, either. If you miss a session, its not the end of the world, just take the opportunity to make it up and get in a workout as soon as you can.
The benefits: You won’t be tempted to fall out of the habit of exercising after missing a workout or two.
3. TRAVEL RIGHT.
What the other guys and girls do: Put their entire workout routines to rest when they go on vacation or visit the family. What you’ll do: Stay in a hotel with a well-stocked gym–and use it. If that’s not possible, switch to a calisthenics routine of push-ups, squat, handstand push ups, lunges and other body weight exercises. Pack a jump rope and exercise bands or a TRX to make it more effective.
The benefits: You’ll keep your training on track with an easy-to-do maintenance plan, and lessen the risk of jet lag and stiffness from traveling.
4. PROTECT YOUR FLUID CONTENT.
What the other guys and girls do: Become dehydrated because they don’t feel thirsty. What you’ll do: Remember to drink plenty of water all day long, and especially before and during workouts.
The benefits: Everyone realizes that you need plenty of water to perform well in the summertime, but a lot of people forget the same applies when the weather turns cold. Since dry, heated indoor air can be even more dehydrating than warm sunshine, drinking enough is still a must.
What the other guys and girls do: Forget that active recovery and good supplementation is as important to reaching their goals as is the workout itself. What you’ll do: use supplements such as pre workout drinks and protein powders loaded with glutamine and other goodies to support your workouts and help you recover quicker from them.
The benefits: Pre workout drinks and fuels can help libido, cognitive function, endurance and stamina, intensify workouts and accelerate fat loss. Protein powders will help with muscle recovery, strength and muscle gain. Glutamine and other goodies will improve immune function and prevent overtraining and support overall recovery.
Your challenge: Pigging Out
6. EAT HOT AND HEALTHY.
What the other guys and girls do: Throw their nutritional guidelines to the winds and chomp down on platefuls of pasta, rice, potatoes and other comfort foods to get them through the chill of winter. What you’ll do: When you want something hot and comforting, start your meal with a bowl of chicken-vegetable soup or equivalent.
The benefits: Not only does chicken soup contain proven illness-fighting chemicals, a study at Penn State University in the US found that people who ate it as an appetizer consumed fewer calories over the entire meal. I.E it is high in water.
7. GO NUTS.
What the other guys and girls do: At parties or office gatherings, graze on large amounts of baked goods, lollies and chips. What you’ll do: Grab a handful of mixed nuts and nosh on them slowly. You will not, however, go back and eat the entire serving plate.
The benefits: Nuts are loaded with protein and healthy fats, and tests have found that they make you fuller and less likely to over consume later on.
8. DRINK LIGHTER.
What the other guys and girls do: Use up half a day’s supply of calories on alcoholic beverages. What you’ll do: If you’re going to drink alcohol, make it a real drink, not a dessert in a glass–preferably antioxidant-rich red wine or dark beer. Don’t over imbibe, and sip a glass of water between each shot of booze, which will help keep you hydrated (dehydration from alcohol can slow fat metabolism and generally stress your organs and run down your immune system).
The benefits: Significantly fewer calories, reduced hangover risk, and less chance that you’ll accidentally call the boss by the nickname everyone uses behind their back.
9. AVOID OVERFILL.
What the other guys and girls do: Go out to eat with friends and family; profess to be surprised by the restaurant’s huge portions but devour the whole plate anyway. What you’ll do: Knowing that many establishments serve giant-size meals these days, order yourself a low-fat entree or two, have a soup or salad first or offer to split a salad and entree with someone else.
The benefits: You eat less, pay less, and don’t end up with leftovers that will just sit in your fridge for a month.
Your challenge: Getting Ill
10. KEEP YOUR HANDS CLEAN.
What the other guys and girls do: Shake hands with someone, catch their cold or flu, and set back their fitness routines for days or weeks of recovery.
What you’ll do: Wash your hands well with hot water and soap, especially before touching your own eyes, nose or mouth if you’ve just touched any person or public object that could be infected. Use a moisturizer to keep your digits from drying out after all that washing. Of course, we’re talking about rational behavior, not obsessional cleansing.
The benefits: Since viruses are often transmitted by touch, keeping your hands clean may be the single best thing you can do to avoid getting sick.
11. WORK TOWARD IMMUNITY.
What the other guys girls do: Further weaken their immune systems by giving up on exercise during cold season. What you’ll do: Get plenty of moderate cardio.
The benefits: A recent study at the University of South Carolina in Columbia found that adults who get regular moderate exercise have significantly fewer colds. If you already have a cold, moderate exercise probably won’t make it worse, but consult your doctor if you have possible flu symptoms such as fever, muscle aches or heavy coughing.
12. GET HEALTHY SHUT-EYE.
What the other guys and girls do: Miss out on needed sleep as stress and time demands grow, resulting in fewer virus-fighting “natural killer” immune cells. What you’ll do: Go to sleep and wake up at about the same time every day, and don’t eat heavy food or drink alcohol within a few hours of bedtime.
The benefits: Maintaining a consistent sleep/wake cycle and avoiding lots of food or alcohol before bed are the keys to preventing insomnia.
13. VEG IT UP.
What the other guys and girls do: Consume more junk, simple carbohydrates, white flours and refined sugars and fewer vegetables at a time when they most need better nutrition. What you’ll do: Eat plenty of carotenoid-laden vegetables, including winter squash, carrots and even pumpkin.
The benefits: According to nutritional reports, a diet high in carotenoids can raise your immune-cell count by a third, which will help ward off illness and keep your fitness level intact.
Your challenge: Losing Energy
14. FEAST LIGHTLY.
What the other guys and girls do: Stuff themselves at meals, either because it’s a special holiday glutton fest or because Grandma’s piling food on the plates faster than they can keep up with it, and end up too bloated to do anything afterward but lie on the couch for a few hours. What you’ll do: Plot your strategy early: Eat the healthiest foods first, and then nibble on the treats. Hold off on seconds by saying you’re full, but that you’d love to take some leftovers home.
The benefits: Pace yourself and you won’t end up feeling like a pig. You’ll also prevent the artery damage that can result from overeating fatty foods. You’ll also have the energy to get to that workout.
15. SOAK UP THE SUN WHEN YOU CAN.
What the other guys and girls do: Get the blues. What you’ll do: Go out in the sunshine every day, especially in the morning.
The benefits: You’ve probably heard of seasonal affective disorder (SOD), a general lethargy and low-grade depression thought to be caused by diminished sunlight during the winter months. But even a single day without sunshine may affect your mood: In a study at Wagner College in Staten Island, N.Y., students were found to have almost four times more anxiety and irritability on cloudy days. Just a few daily minutes of real or artificial sunshine may give you a much-needed boost throughout the winter.
16. SELECT YOUR SIDE EFFECTS.
What the other guys and girls do: Take cold remedies loaded with antihistamines, caffeine, or other ingredients that knock them out during the day or keep them awake at night. What you’ll do: Instead of popping a remedy when you get the sniffles, only take what you need to function until the virus leaves your system. Drink plenty of water to help flush out toxins.
The benefits: With some experimentation you can find a remedy that helps blunt your symptoms without adding to them.
Your challenge: Losing sight of your health and fitness goals or even worse, not having any
17. FOLLOW A PROGRAM.
What the other guys and girls do: Walk aimlessly around the gym, without a program, not having any idea of what need to do to achieve their goals. If they have actually set any. What you’ll do: Ask a trainer to put together a personalized program for you, working specifically around your, injuries, limitations and specifically to your body and your goals.
The benefits: You will stay focused on each visit to the gym, having a set plan to achieve your goals and this will keep you motivated as you lift a little heavier, do a few more reps or rest less between you work periods. By recording your workouts every session and seeing your improvement from week to week this will keep you motivated and on track to where you want to be.
18. GET A TRAINER.
What the other guys and girls do: lose motivation, fun and accountability during the cooler months. What you’ll do: get a coach who will keep you in track, motivated, having fun with exercise and staying focused on your health and fitness goals during the cooler months. Let’s face it, we always trainer better when there is a bit of competition or someone pushing us outside of our comfort zone to force adaptation and a training response.
The benefits: You join the winners! The widespread use of trainers by successful people in all walks of life is the strongest testament to the difference a good fitness coach will make in your life. The world top athlete’s all have trainers that have helped them reach the pinnacle of success. Even if they are the No.1 player in the world!!!!! . So why don’t you have one?
19. GET TO CLASSES.
What the other guys and girls do: forget that they have a membership as soon as their butt hits the couch and apathy and a bigger waistline sets in. What’ll you do: instead of going home go straight to your classes so that you don’t have the opportunity to imprint the couch.
The benefits: You will be motivated and inspired by your instructor usually in a healthily competitive class with other like minded individuals. All you have to do is turn up and your instructor will do the rest! And you stay true to your goals and the results you want achieve.
20. STAY POSITIVE AND PERSERVERENT.
What the other guys and girls do: soon as things get a little tougher and less inspiring as the weather becomes miserable and inhospitable their visits to the gym and classes become less and less frequent. And all that hard work that they had put in previously is lost. What you’ll do: When the going get’s tough, the tough get going. Your positive internal dialogue and single minded focus on making your health and fitness your number one priority, even when it’s a little hard to be inspired, will keep you moving in the right direction.
The benefits: You won’t have to start all over again and you will have your health and body that most can only wish for even when it’s not t-shirt off weather outside.
Of course, your friends may deride you for attempting to stay healthy, happy and fit this time of year while they go down that long road toward gluttony, sloth and illness. But in August and September, when you’re still a hard bodied energizer bunny ready to head down the beach to get your gear off and they’re just starting to lug their love handles back to the gym, you’ll have too much class to mention it, well maybe.
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