Motivating yourself to live healthy in winter can be quite the task, especially when the days are short and the weather is chilly.
One way to manage is to take comfort in the fact that some good quality, vigorous exercise, coupled with loads of nourishing healthy foods is hugely beneficial to improving your mood, focus, vitality, and fitness levels, particularly during the winter months when energy levels tend to wane.
It is so easy to go into hibernation mode, opting for a cosy blanket, the couch, a movie and bowl of popcorn, instead of a sweaty workout. Unfortunately, making this choice will inevitably catch up with us, and quickly too!
It’s easy to hide under all the coats, jerseys and jackets, thinking “I’ll start again in the spring”, but the truth is, letting yourself go and filling up on junk isn’t going to do much for your self-esteem, your body, or your mind, for that matter.
Consistency is key!
The combination of ‘heavy’, calorie-dense foods and a lack of exercise will simply make you feel more tired, more lethargic and downright lousy!
The way to keep that toned aesthetic and remain healthy and fit (because these all go hand in hand), is to be consistent. You can’t just stop doing it to hibernate through winter. It has to become a way of life, and those colder, unpleasant months should be no exception!
Maintaining your healthy habits all year round keeps you in check, and that way there is absolutely no need to go to extremes with major detoxes or crash diets come spring, which we all know don’t work anyway!
Winter certainly makes it a little more challenging to stick to a good routine, so to help you conquer the season I’m sharing with you a few of my favourite tips and tricks:
Power breakfast with protein
Devour a high-sugar impact muffin for breakfast and you start down a slippery slope towards ravenous hunger, cravings, and overeating for the rest of the day.
This is my most effective recipe for fast, lasting fat loss that keeps you full for hours (thanks to the protein and healthy fat content) and takes less time to make than placing your coffee shop order: Blend some pea or hemp protein powder with frozen raspberries, avocado, leafy greens, freshly ground flax seed, and unsweetened coconut or almond milk and drink up. Healthy fats such as avocado will also help generate body heat to keep you nice and warm.
Smart up your energy
Eating sugar-rich foods will spike and crash your blood sugar levels, creating hunger, cravings, and crankiness, even for hours after you’ve eaten.
Create stable day-long blood sugar and energy levels with clean, lean protein, healthy fats, tons of leafy greens, cruciferous veggies, and slow-release, high-fibre grains.
Quinoa is one of my favourite winter go-to grains because they are both low GI and rich in protein. There characteristics make it a great lunch base to add to your favourite salad or to enjoy alongside a hearty vegetable stew.
Eat by the clock
Meal timing becomes crucial for stabilising your appetite and reducing cravings. Have a protein shake within an hour of waking up, since breakfast sets up your metabolic rate for the day. This way you’ll better regulate your appetite, quashing hunger signals every four to six hours.
Stop eating three hours before bed as this allows your body enough time to use up your fuel while you are still awake, and also maximises the amount of time your body has to clean out completely. Skipping meals, spacing meals too far apart, or otherwise erratically pacing meals practically makes a face-first dive into a very large tub of ice-cream inevitable!
Smart swap your weaknesses
Deprivation only exacerbates cravings. We all know how it goes… you always want what you can’t have! So quit all the deprivation nonsense!
Instead of abstaining, make lateral shifts by enjoying healthier alternatives of your favourite foods.
If you love white potatoes, sub them with cauli mash instead. If death by pasta is your vice then try out zucchini noodles instead. If your co-worker’s hot walnut brownies become irresistible, keep a little “emergency” stevia dark chocolate nearby. Be smart, be armed and be creative… you will soon see just how many indulgent foods can be smart swapped for their healthier counterpart.
About the author
Cara-Lisa, founder of the Caralishious brand, is a health blogger, yoga obsessed dancer, and content creator with a passion for all things wholesome and nourishing. With over 17 years of dancing behind her, Cara has first-hand experience in sports nutrition, body conditioning and holistic living. Her mission is to inspire both her clients and those around her to enjoy a healthy, balanced lifestyle. www.caralishious.com
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.