Winter is famously a time when we stop exercising and start eating and drinking in obscene amounts. Not only do we believe that we need to ‘fatten up’ to keep warm over the coldest months of the year, but we also feel the need to ‘let our hair down’, relax and pig out at celebrations with friends and family. After all, if you can’t eat what you want (and more) and have a few too many drinks in the festive season, when can you? Only a real spoilsport and a Scrooge would try to maintain their dietary and workout discipline during the season of goodwill, right?
Well, partially right. It can actually be good for you to take your foot off the brake, release some pressure once in a while. Remind yourself what cake tastes like. Sleep in late. It’s ok. For a couple of days – not an entire season. If you live close to one of the poles, you’re not getting a year-long debauchery pass! Have your fun, enjoy your extra glass of sherry and that slice of Christmas cake and then steel yourself.
How many people do you see in March and April, bounding up and down the block, desperately trying to get rid of the damage they have done to themselves over the winter? How many people go through punishing detox regimes, which just don’t produce the results they want? How many beach vacations end up getting canceled because folks just couldn’t lose the pounds they so quickly and willingly put on over the winter? You can save yourself from all of this stress by simply remaining disciplined during the winter.
That said, it can be more challenging to stay healthy during the colder months. The cold can make it unpleasant and even dangerous to exercise outside. Fresh vegetables and fruit are harder to come by, and probably more expensive than they are at other times of year. Surfaces can be slippery and hazardous. It gets lighter later and darker earlier, likely restricting the hours that you can spend outside.
However, don’t fall back on these reasons as an excuse to ditch a healthy lifestyle and turn into a slob. Plant in preparation, or seek out healthy foods that do well in cold climates. Depending on where in the world you live, you might be able to get your hands on some delicious cabbages, sprouts, beets, onions, carrots, turnips and potatoes to fill up on. You can make use of these in both warm and cold dishes, not forgetting those essential smoothies. Berries do well in colder weather, but don’t forget that if you make use of a greenhouse or an indoor growing space, you won’t necessarily have to miss out on anything.
In terms of keeping fit, if it’s really too cold to go outside and exercise without putting yourself at risk – perhaps you could get lost or injured in the snow, or find yourself being attacked in the darkness by a polar bear – you should consider working out indoors. This doesn’t have to mean getting in your car and driving down to the gym either – hazardous winter driving conditions could easily cause you to skid off the road and straight into a tree, potentially leaving you hospitalized for the rest of the winter and with no chance of keeping fit. Instead, invest in some home gym equipment.
Exercises such as yoga and pilates are perfect for doing in the comfort of your own home, and cost you nothing. Similarly, pushups and sit ups can be done at no expense. A pull up bar might cost a few dollars. You can buy plastic dumbbells which can be filled up with water, very cheaply, but if you want to lift something heavier, it’s better to purchase some adjustable weights, rather than trying to improvise.
Cardio is a little trickier – running up and down your staircase or around in circles won’t be as productive as it is tiring, and may drive other members of the house to vent their frustration at your inconsideration. Instead, get yourself a piece of home gym equipment from Treadmill Trends and find a quiet space to get the exercise you need without bothering other people.