As the cold weather sweeps in, it’s all too tempting to hide under chunky knits, eat warm comforting food and forget entirely about our need to exercise. That’s something that can wait until after Christmas, once spring has sprung and when swimsuit weather is just around the corner. Well, no more! We asked personal trainer and Flywheel instructor Paul Watson for his top tips to keep us motivated, fit and healthy during the dark winter months.
1. Eat Well
Studies have shown around 80% of any fitness goal depends on your diet, be it weight loss, muscular development or training for an event. Eating a good balance of clean carbohydrates, fresh protein and healthy fats will give you the energy to aid your fitness challenge and show results quickly.
For the most part when coaching clients through weight loss and definition, I advise eating three meals and two snacks to help keep your metabolism burning at a constant rate.
When planning meals and cooking, look at the labels for the content of carbohydrates, proteins and fats. You should aim for around:
– 45% Carbohydrates – preferably natural and non-starchy… no genetically enhanced products (e.g. pasta, bread, white rice)
– 30% Protein – preferably low fat cuts of meat and fish, nuts, soy beans and pulses are also great sources of protein
– 25% Fats – again nuts and seeds are great sources, as well as avocado and oily fish.
2. Keep Hydrated
Hydration is key to staying healthy; after all, the brain is made up of around 70% water.
A question I always get asked is ‘how much water should I drink?’ well that depends on you; a minimum for any adult should be two litres of water a day but a simple bit of math will help you find a more personal amount:
Body weight KG x 0.03 = MINIMUM DAILY WATER INTAKE
It sounds like a lot of water to drink, but it will wash out salts, toxins and aid with the body’s recovery from exercise.
3. Regular Exercise
Working out three to four times per week is a great place to start, once you have your routine, stick to it and you will see the benefits. You’ll notice increased energy levels and your body will begin to adapt. That fitness goal will become ever closer.
If you struggle for time, write down everything you have to do for the week, find a spare 30 to 60 minutes each day and dedicate that to your health, either workout, walk to the shops rather than drive or simply relax; take time to lie down and just relax.
4. Routine and Variety
Set a plan! Be it a monthly, weekly or daily. Just a little effort of 20 minutes planning will make a world of difference to your workouts and general health.
You will know what you have to do and when, spreading your workouts and activities over the week will give your body time to recover and allow you to enjoy exercise. Incorporating different styles of exercise will help you to enjoy yourself as well as seeing results in your skill development and health.
5. Professional Advice
Seeking advice from health and fitness professionals can open doors you never knew existed. There are thousands of online blogs, Facebook pages and Tweets you can follow and pick up free tips and advice.
Never be afraid to ask, that’s why health and fitness professionals exist, no matter the question, a good professional will give you an answer or pass you on to someone who may have a better knowledge in the particular subject.
6. New Skills
As well as the obvious physical benefits, learning a new skill has great mental benefits too. It’s always good to keep your body and brain guessing. Try new activities; there are opportunities everywhere to learn new skills from athletics to yoga or the less traditional forms of exercise such as rock climbing, boxing, rowing or canoeing.
Share your stories about exercise with friends and introduce them to your new passion, a bit of friendly competition never hurts.
7. Why, How, When and What?
A great way to set fitness and health goals is simply by asking yourself why you are doing what you are doing, how you are going to do it and when you want to achieve it by.
WHY – choose a goal
HOW – create a plan, measure your progress with photos, body fat analysis and diameter measurements. Seek advice on the most efficient techniques and tips for that specific goal.
WHEN – pick a deadline of when you want to achieve your goal by, and stick to it.
WHAT – seek professional advice of what exercises to perform, you can find many good workouts online.
When looking to develop and maintain fitness and health, a balanced lifestyle is very important. When starting a fitness journey be sure to schedule rest days into your programme as well as a balance between cardiovascular and resistance exercise. Without rest, our bodies don’t have time to repair and develop from exercise.
Equally we need to find the correct personal ratio of work: exercise: rest.
I often hear ‘I just haven’t got time to work out’. Remember just 30 minutes of exercise can increase your fitness levels, if that means eating lunch at your desk and using half of your lunch break to exercise, that could be a sacrifice to be made.
You need to make change to see a change.
9. Relaxing and Sleep
A lot of us have forgotten how to relax. We often find ourselves carrying stress and tension in our muscles, when sometimes all we need to do is lie down and allow ourselves to relax, clear our minds of all thoughts and just listen to your body.
When the body is relaxing it is able to repair, after efforts of exercise, it will also relax the mind enabling you to mentally focus. Being mentally focused is almost as important as the exercise itself. To achieve any life goals you must believe in yourself.
Enjoy what you are doing, if you enjoy your exercise you will work harder.
Choose activities you think you’ll enjoy, try new activities, if you don’t enjoy them at least you know you’ve tried.
Just because the food you eat is healthier, doesn’t mean it needs to be tasteless and boring, add spices and natural flavors, and be adventurous when cooking your healthy meals.