As the saying goes, summer bodies are made in the winter; but to be perfectly honest, 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 we are inclined to eat more in order to gather a layer of winter fat to keep us warm. So if we are looking to maintain our summer bodies, we need to ensure we stay active and continue to maintain a nutritious and balanced diet.
A lack of sunshine can really get you down and result in a lack of vitamin D. Therefore I always recommend my clients take 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 that’s my point exactly, we should make the effort to stay active and eat healthily, there are the same amount of hours in the day and to be honest, the endorphins that are released during exercise can help to combat SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and keep you more upbeat during winter.
People often turn to comfort eating during winter, rich and stodgy foods such as Sunday roasts, stew and dumplings are typically British and again can add to that desired layer of body fat that we instinctively want to achieve, and it’s easily achievable due to the high-calorie count each meal usually contains. Furthermore, seasonal traditions such as Halloween and Christmas fall in our winter months and again, everyone tends to go overboard and think, oh well, I will just wait to New Year to get back into shape.
What people forget, or probably don’t even 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.
I think we need to 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 6am in the cold and dark to venture to the gym. Comfort food can be healthy – how about making a lean mince and sweet potato shepherds pie for some post-workout recovery? It makes for a great low-calorie alternative to the original recipe.
I personally like to stay motivated by having a winter training buddy and then you can hold each other accountable for your actions (or lack of them!)
My BODY IN 8 virtual personal training programme is a great way to stay in shape during winter, everything you need from your daily workouts to nutrition and lifestyle advice all year round! The social community on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook @bodyin8official is also a great way to stay connected, inspired, motivated and focused on your goals with like-minded people!
Callum Melly is the UK’s leading personal training expert, a fitness model and founder of body transformation programme BODY IN 8. His aim is to educate people on how to lead a healthier lifestyle that is maintainable.