As the saying goes, summer bodies are made in the Winter – but I’d be lying if I said many of my clients of all ages didn’t struggle at this time of year with motivation and health issues.
My thoughts? Despite the time of year, why should a season determine our health and wellbeing?
I think the main issue to address here, especially in the UK is that our winter months can be brutally cold, dark and gloomy.
During colder months, our bodies naturally want to keep us warm, it’s a survival instinct, so dieting becomes tougher as we are driven by our ancestry to eat more to gather a layer of life-saving, warm-preserving body fat that we don’t really need in these times.
We turn to comfort eating during winter. Rich, stodgy foods such as Sunday roasts, stew and dumplings are typically British and comforting when we’re down.
They will add to that layer of body fat that our inner caveman thinks we need but our outer person definitely doesn’t want.
What people forget, or don’t realise is that when we gain weight (body fat) due to a calorie surplus, we create more fat cells to store fat molecules as energy.
Fat cells never disappear, we can burn the stored fat within the cells, but the cells themselves remain.
Therefore, if we do gain weight (fat) and then lose weight, it is always possible to gain that weight back and more, due to those extra fat cells being created always being there. That’s why as dull as it can be we need to be conscious of nutrition in versus energy used.
If we are looking to maintain (or create) our summer bodies, we need to ensure we stay active and continue to maintain a nutritious and balanced diet. You may crave carbs and that’s fine to an extent but keep them earlier in the day and don’t forget to eat lots and lots of veggies.
A lack of sunshine can lead to SAD (seasonal affective disorder) as well as a lack of Vitamin D which can result in depression, energy loss and in extreme circumstances, rickets.
Therefore I always recommend to my clients supplementing with a good quality Vitamin D supplement, such as The Protein Works “Vitamin D3 Super Strength”.
As a nation, we tend to accept that it is socially acceptable to do less exercise during Winter; who wants to go out for a run when in the blistering cold or go to the gym before or after work when it’s pitch black?
But answer me this; do you want to go now when it’s miserable, or in the spring when it warms up and you’d rather be having fun?
We should make the effort to stay active and eat healthily, there are the same number of hours in the day and it makes sense – the endorphins that are released during exercise combat SAD and will be what keeps you upbeat during winter.
Let’s reassess how we look at exercising and eating during winter and make a conscious effort to maintain our exercise and healthy eating regimes.
Workouts can be done in the comfort of your own home if you don’t want to drag yourself out of bed at 6 am in the cold and dark to venture to the gym. You can find brilliant routines on Youtube – HIIT, Barre, Yoga, Body Pump, Aerobics, Weights – all available and often free.
Comfort food can be healthy, how about making a lean mince and sweet potato shepherds pie for some post-workout recovery, rather than your traditional rich and calorific version?
What I am trying to say is that there are always healthy alternatives that will get you through the winter, but more importantly help you to maintain your ideal body all year round!
Finally, in my experience misery HATES company – it’s far easier to stay motivated by having a winter training buddy – someone to chat to through the miles, commiserate on the tough bits and hold you to account!
Callum is also the founder of the Body 8 programme, helping you achieve your fitness goals in just eight weeks.