It’s cold, it’s raining, your colleagues are sneezing and Tesco are selling kilos of maltesers at half price. It’s not the easiest time of year to stay motivated and on track, but December is as good a time as any to look after your body. A healthy lifestyle is a long term project, and there are inevitably ups and downs just as in any other areas of your life! In this week’s blog, founder Tim Hayes shares some of his tips for staying strong through the winter season.
Pay attention to your vitamin intake
Often, we only reach for the vitamin supplements when we start to feel colds settling in. But when winter closes in around us and the summer sun & fresh salads are gone, our bodies need them more than ever. Why not boost your mornings with a vitamin C and ginger shot? Starting your day with hot water and lemon is a great too – lemon is a rich source of vitamin C which has antibacterial, antiviral and immune boosting properties.
If you’re not a fan of popping vitamin tablets unnecessarily, then fresh kale juice is packed with B-complex vitamins which help you gain energy from nutrients and the iron and copper activate enzymes your cells need to generate fuel. Plus, the iron helps deliver the oxygen your cells need to maintain cell metabolism, so it’s perfect to beat that mid afternoon slump. All this will help to build a strong immune system to fend off any colds and bugs in the first place.
Unfortunately none of this will stop you catching a cold, but it has been shown repeatedly that vitamin C does reduce the severity and length of colds significantly, (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1947567/)
Let in the light
Whilst we all know that tanning is bad for our skin, a small amount of UVB exposure helps our cells to manufacture Vitamin D, and the lack of it in these long winter months can have a number of psychological and physical impacts. Many people find their sleep cycles becoming harder to maintain and experience a lower mood than usual when the nights are long and the sky is grey.
The key is to exposure yourself to as much daylight as possible whilst it’s available; switching to morning outdoor workouts can help wake you up mentally at the right hour of the day, but if that’s not an option, do try to get out for a brisk walk on your lunch break.
Many people also find light boxes help them to wake up in the mornings, and there are even immersive classes popping up in London that make use of blue, yellow or red light to help wake up or calm the mind depending on the time of day.
Whilst you want to expose yourself to as much natural daylight in the day as possible, you should also regulate your exposure to artificial light from screens – a key culprit for sleep disruption, so make sure you switch off a few hours before bed each night. New evidence shows that glasses with a blue light filter can also help prevent some of the damage caused by screens on our eyes.
If you are still feeling really down and lethargic, it’s best to talk to a doctor about some of the options available to treat SAD.
Motivating yourself to get out from under the warm duvet on a cold wet morning to go to the gym or have a morning jog can be difficult. We might be biased, but getting a personal trainer to come to your home at least once a week to supplement your training and keep you accountable is a brilliant way to keep your fitness goals on track. It’s always harder to turn your trainer away when they are ringing your front door bell at 6am than just rolling over and hitting your alarm clock snooze button. A mat, a small space and a talented trainer can easily see your through the winter months. As for some home workout examples – that’ll be in a forthcoming blog post, so keep your eyes peeled.
December and Christmas happens every year; it’s part of the annual cycle of events, just like holidays, birthdays, or illness. No fitness program continues on a constant upward trajectory, life ebbs and flows along with our fitness and lifestyle decisions. Humility around the time of the year and the goals you want are crucial; know what your long term goals are, and create a lifestyle that supports it – but don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you need to take it a bit easier than usual in winter.