‘Winter is the time of year when some people pull out the baggy clothes and give themselves permission to relax their healthy routine,’ says dietitian Pip Golley. ‘But this is how the kilos creep on, and, sadly, this extra weight can hang around for months or years to come.'
Are you someone who hibernates when daylight savings ends and shuts down their fitness routine until it’s time to dust off your swimmers again? If so you could be missing out on the best months to focus on a healthier you. Our winter survival guide shows you how to stay motivated through the cooler months. Your beach-ready body will thank you!
Winter weight gain is hard to shift
Watch out: the side-effects of a winter ‘veg out’ could last well beyond the season.
According to research published in the journal Nutrition & Metabolism, just 1 month of overeating and being less active can lead to long term weight gain that is hard to shift.
The Swedish researchers asked volunteers to overindulge in fast foods and limit their exercise for 4 weeks, expecting them to gain weight temporarily and then return to normal at the end of the study.
But 2.5 years later the study participants were still more than 3kg heavier than when the study began.
‘It may be tempting to curl up on the couch and reach for comfort foods over the cooler months,’ says Pip, ‘but even a short period of overeating and lack of exercise affects body fat levels and makes it harder to stay trim long-term.’
Pip says that keeping a food diary is an excellent way to stave off winter weight gain because it helps you become more mindful of your eating and exercise routine. My Blackmores online diary is your best resource for successful self-monitoring.
Low calorie winter warmers
Scoffing down hearty comfort food is one reason for piling on sneaky kilos when the temperature dips.
Fortunately the winter favourites in our recipe section are just as welcoming and filling while supporting your healthy living goals into the bargain.
Our favourite picks for wholesome winter warmers:
Slurp some soup
Soup comes into its own in the winter months. Here’s why:
- It can be low-calorie, low-fat but sublimely delicious!
- It can be made in advance and taken to work for a powerhouse lunch
- It’s an easy way to increase your intake of vital vegetables
- It’s endlessly versatile with so many varieties to choose from
Here’s a selection of slurp-worthy soothers:
Set a new fitness goal
The short days and cold mornings and evenings mean a rethink of your exercise regimen. Time to move your exercise indoors! And because your body thrives on variety and change, it’s also a good time to set yourself a new fitness challenge.
If you’re a swimmer, you could swap your laps for Zumba Aqua, an exhilarating body-toning cardio session in the pool. Classes are now being offered by selected Fitness First clubs. Or else, check out your local pool for aqua aerobic sessions and splash around while working out. Fun!
Meanwhile, back in the gym give a new class or technique a whirl.
- If you love weight training, try a session on the TRX Suspension trainer. These yellow and black straps take advantage of gravity and your own bodyweight to build strength and tone.
- If you love yoga, throw yourself (literally) into an anti-gravity yoga class. This unique fusion technique is fantastic for decompressing your joints and aligning your whole body.
- If you love cardio, have a go with the ViPR, a deceptively fiendish hollow tube that develops agile strength with a range of whole body movements. Great for scorching calories!
The first cold snap has snow boarders and skiers rubbing their hands together with glee (and to avoid frostbite!). If you’re heading to the slopes, take our 6-week Ski Fit program to prepare your body for pulling action of skiing. Head to My Profile → Exercise preferences, click 'Specialty' and select 'Ski Fit'.
Winter is also peak season for runners. The cooler temperatures offer perfect conditions for improving your distance and speed. If you’re the competitive type, the host of running events around the country will get the adrenalin pumping. My Blackmores offers several running programs for runners of all levels.
Discover how to get the most of your cool weather run.