You can still enjoy soups, hot chocolates and all the great things about winter without popping out of your winter coat. We show you how.
Hopewood Health Retreat has put together its top nine tips for warding off those extra kilos that tend to creep up on us during winter.
Tip 1 - Keep active!
We tend to slow down in winter with activity levels decreasing. It can be hard to get motivated to head outdoors when it's cold, but exercise is your best weapon against winter weight gain. By adding strength training, you will burn more calories. If the gym is not your thing, take advantage of your local parks or get familiar with your neighbourhood by walking.
Try focusing on your legs; because they hold the largest muscles in the body, they can burn more calories than any other part of your body, so walk fast! You can add a little extra “oomph” to your walk by carrying a water bottle in each hand filled with sand, or wear wrist weights and swing your arms while walking. Plus staying active naturally reinforces healthy food cravings and you are more likely to make better food choices.
Tip 2 - Take up a new sport
Taking up a new sport is great for the body and mind – there’s something new to learn and dormant muscles to be used. Or you can adjust an activity you do throughout summer. Consider swimming in an indoor heated pool in winter instead of the ocean or outdoor pool. Swimming is a great way to burn energy; it consumes more calories per hour than running, bicycling or weightlifting. Or take up a new winter sport and make that mid-year holiday a ski trip!
Tip 3 - Eat well
Eating well doesn’t mean over-eating on roast lamb with baked vegetables and gravy, followed by apple pie and cream. It does mean finding tasty, low-calorie alternatives that will satisfy your hunger. Try plenty of winter vegetables that are low in fat and calories but high in nutrients, like squash, onions, broccoli and cauliflower. Avoid lathering them in butter and try sprinkling on some herbs or pour over a small amount of good oil like avocado, walnut or pumpkin.
A good tip is to fill half or three quarters of your plate with salad, steamed vegetables or braised greens. If you find yourself craving something sweet, avoid chocolate, sweets, cake or biscuits as it?s hard to stop at one or two. Instead try drinking a hot drink and eat a few raisins, dried apples or prunes. Avoid highly processed snack foods. Be prepared and carry healthy snacks in your bag.
Tip 4 - Reduce alcohol
Alcohol contains loads of empty calories; it slows down your metabolism and, in turn, can lead to weight gain. Try to limit yourself to just one drink a day. You could try a wine spritzer instead of a full glass of wine or stick to good old water; squeeze in a wedge or two of fresh lemon to add flavour.
Tip 5 - Drink plenty of water
Even though the temperature has dropped and it’s no longer hot and sweaty weather, you still need to drink water. Drinking water can also help to keep you feeling full so you?re less prone to snacking. Try adding a touch of hot water to your glass to warm it up, or a slice of lemon to make the water more palatable.
Tip 6 - Supplement
Take a good multivitamin, fish oil and probiotics. This will help to keep your body healthy and energetic if you have a day where you may not have consumed all of the nutrients you require. Taking supplements may also stop you from craving sugars and fats.
Tip 7 - Eat breakfast
We all know that it?s the most important meal of the day, so be sure to eat breakfast and include some additional fibre (e.g. psyllium or LSA) or lean protein if possible. This very important meal kick-starts your metabolism and provides your body with fuel to create the energy you need to get you going in the morning.
Tip 8 - Skip the coffee
A cup of coffee in the morning may rev you up, but the effect is short-lived and is hard on your liver. Caffeine causes a temporary surge in blood sugar levels (glucose). While providing you with energy, this surge in glucose causes the pancreas to secrete excessive amounts of insulin, which is used to regulate blood sugar levels.
What happens next is a blood sugar crash as your body calls out for more glucose, which the brain requires in order to function. The result is that you experience carbohydrate cravings and blood sugar swings. Instead try drinking Green Tea. Although it does contain some caffeine, the health benefits of green tea far outweigh the detriments of the small amount of caffeine that it contains.
Tip 9 - Avoid artificial sweeteners
Current research shows that regular use of artificial sweeteners can actually make you gain weight. Try natural sweeteners like Xylitol or Stevia (available from any good health food store) to replace sugar and artificial sweeteners.
“It?s not that difficult to avoid gaining weight throughout the colder months,” said Jennifer Mathieson, Hopewood’s Assistant Manager. “It just takes a little planning and willpower.”
For more information, visit www.hopewood.com.au.
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