As if exercising and staying healthy weren't hard enough, now we have to find the motivation to choose a salad for lunch and go for a run when it's dark and cold outside.
Being 'good' in winter is certainly no mean feat, but the reality is that it's even more important to exercise and eat well in the cooler months. Not only will your body be better equipped to fight off colds, but you'll be ahead of the game when bikini season rolls around.
So, grab yourself a skim hot chocolate and have a read of our super-easy winter wonder body plan. You won't see one mention of carrot sticks or 6am bootcamp sessions, we promise!
Finding that summer motivation in winter
The most important thing to remember when it comes to exercising and eating well in winter is to cut yourself some slack. No one can be expected to go for a run when it's hailing outside or to order a tuna sandwich after watching a football game in five degrees.
Here are some things you can do to ensure that when the mood and the environment is right, you stay on top of your winter body plan:
- Stay flu-free: don't set your fitness regime back by falling ill. The only way you can catch a cold is by coming in contact with someone else who has the virus. That doesn't just mean shaking the hand of a coughing workmate, it means touching doorknobs or using the same phone as them. Wash your hands well with hot water and soap and clean common surfaces with anti-bacterial wipes.
- Get enough sleep: keeping up to date with your shut eye will replenish energy levels and act as a natural immune reviver.
- Get outdoors: unless you're a bear and intend to hibernate all winter, it is okay to venture outside as long as you stay rugged up. The air is cleaner and when the sun does shine, your body will soak up every ounce of warmth, thereby replenishing your feel-good serotonin levels.
- Take a holiday: if you can afford the time off and the airfare, take a midwinter hiatus somewhere warm. It's the best thing you can do for your tired body. Your stress levels, skin and health will thank you too.
- Cut down on alcohol and caffeine: no one is suggesting you ban red wine or lattes that would just be cruel! But restrict them to weekends so your body isn't loaded up with toxins making you feel extra sluggish.
- Find some inspiration: summer may be a few months away, but that doesn't mean you can't start preparing for it. Dig up some photos of yourself or others that you like and stick them on your fridge. Put a 'summer inspired' playlist on your iPod, plan an end-of-year trip and set goals to reach before the warmer months hit all will make you get up in the morning or reach for that vegetable soup.
- Get a partner in crime: it isn't rocket science, but having someone to champion your winter wonder body cause will keep you more motivated than ever. There's nothing like knowing someone is waiting for you at the gym at the end of a long day to make you turn up.
Comfort foods that won't enlarge your waistline
A meat pie may seem like the best option when it's teeming with rain outside, but there are loads of yummy comfort foods which won't stop you fitting into your jeans…
- Vegetable soup: beans, potatoes, turnips and carrots will increase the thickness and contribute different nutrients.
- Nachos: go easy on the cheese, add kidney beans and choose lean mince.
- Casseroles or stews: trim the fat and skin from meat before adding.
- Chicken soup: not only does it contain proven illness-fighting chemicals, but you can add vegetables for extra nutrition.
- Green tea: a rich antioxidant, it will warm you up and keep you busy for the 20 minutes or so nutritionists say it takes for a food craving to pass.
- Turkey roast: choose a lean turkey roll and cook carotenoid-laden vegetables such as squash, carrot and pumpkin. They can raise your immune-cell count by a third, which will help ward off illness and keep your fitness level intact.
- Porridge: use skim milk and add fruit instead of brown sugar.
- Kebabs: ditch the cheese and add tomatoes, lettuce, carrot.
A quick winter food tip: don't forget to monitor your portion sizes. Mashed potato is fine to eat as long as you don't consume half a platefull. Try and eat more protein and vegetables and leave the butter-drenched bread rolls and sticky date pudding for special occasions.
How to work out when it's cold outside
Don't let cold weather sidetrack your exercise routine. Get creative!
- Join a health club: they're a great place for meeting people and getting fit.
- Find an indoor pool: water aerobics is one of the best things you can do to lose weight and tone your whole body.
- Hit a sauna: get really warm and sweat out your toxins!
- Invest in home exercise equipment: choose something that's practical, enjoyable and easy to use like an exercise bike or treadmill. You can find them cheaply on eBay. Dumbbells, an exercise ball and a skipping rope are also good options you can pick them up for around $50.
- Go skiing: want a toned bottom and thighs? Get a group of people together and head to the snowfields for a weekend. Nothing beats flying down a slippery slope at a million miles an hour to strengthen your muscles.
- Jog or walk: you can still go for your weekly run, just do it sensibly. Drink plenty of fluids, go with the wind, do a proper warm-up, layer your clothing and wear reflective clothes in poor light.
- Take the stairs: if you live near a shopping centre, skyscraper or stadium, consider them your personal gym. Walking up and down several flights of stairs for as little as 20 minutes will give you a winter wonder body in no time.
- Get DVDs: Pilates, yoga, dancing, Tai-Bo you name it, it comes on DVD. Rent them from a video store or buy a few and swap with friends.
Winter fitness tip: for some people, cold air can trigger chest pain or asthma, so check with your doctor if you're planning to do any rigorous outside activity.