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Winter must not put fitness goals on the back burner

Remain consistent on your journey to physical wellness

There has to be a workout and discipline in place as we approach the winter season.
There has to be a workout and discipline in place as we approach the winter season.
Image: 123RF

As the leaves change colour and the spirit of autumn fills the air, we are reminded that life is not stagnant and that seasons change.

For those on the journey to achieving their fitness goals, this may mean a slightly more challenging period.

With colder weather ahead of us, the idea of jumping out of bed, fastening your running shoes and heading to your workout is likely to be less tempting. Instead, pulling your blankets a little tighter may seem to make a bit more sense.

However, the good news is that you do not have to put your fitness goals on hold. With intentionality and the implementation of a few small changes, you can remain consistent on your journey to physical wellness.

According to Bontle Sekhu, head coach and operations manager at Body 20 Kyalami Corner, it is always important to have your goal in mind and to remember why you set it in the first place.

“If you have a goal that you are working towards and you get to the time of the year where it gets colder, you are more inclined to eat comfort foods and work out less. You need to make sure that you always have your goal in mind. Ask yourself what you can do in order to still reach the goal you said you wanted to achieve.”

Bontle Sekhu is head coach and operations manager at Body 20 Kayalami Corner.
Bontle Sekhu is head coach and operations manager at Body 20 Kayalami Corner.
Image: Supplied

While consistency strategies may differ from one person to the next depending on their lifestyle and fitness habits, Sekhu suggests paying attention to the magic that lies in the little things.

“Find someone to hold you accountable. For example, if you have a workout partner with whom you can go to gym for a session on a cold morning, you are able to wake each other up. The other thing, although it’s a minor thing, is investing in warm active gear. This makes a huge difference,” says Sekhu.

More than anything, she says the ability to remain consistent also lies in one’s mindset as overthinking the idea physical wellness and what it requires can make the necessary tiny steps seem overwhelming.

“It’s all in how you think about it. You can use the idea that summer is coming as a means to motivate you to stay consistent. That makes all the difference and contributes to a mind-set change.”

The food we eat also plays a huge role in our physical wellness, as well as how far we get in achieving the "body goals" we have set for ourselves. As cliché as it may sound, we are indeed what we eat.

“How you prepare your food is very important and pre-preparation helps. It ensures that you do not get overwhelmed, because we tend to be too busy at times. It’s good to preprepare your meals and snacks, whether in the morning or the night before,” says dietitian Sharon Mphahlele.

Sharon Mphahlele is a dietician and shares advise on preparing food.
Sharon Mphahlele is a dietician and shares advise on preparing food.
Image: Suppliec

Only a few things are better than a bowl of warm and hearty soup on a cold and gloomy day. Mphahlele states that there is no harm in indulging in your favourite soups, as long as you incorporate vegetables and find ways of ensuring that the soups are healthy. 

“We should incorporate as much vegetables as we can to obtain the different kinds of vitamins and nutrients from them,” she says.

Morever, a balanced diet is key for the creation of a healthy lifestyle and consistency in the goals set for our physical wellness. “When we talk about balance, we’re talking about having the three macro-nutrients which are starch, protein and vegetables. You can then add healthy fats and have fruit afterwards,” says Mphahlele.

Ultimately, she warns against including starchy vegetables when starch has already been included in the meal as this may cause overeating. Additionally, Mpahlele believes that the importance of breakfast cannot be over-emphasised.

“People believe that missing breakfast will help you lose weight, which in actual fact contributes to weight gain. In the long run, it can cause high blood pressure, sugar diabetes and severe headaches. So as dietitians, we don’t encourage people to skip breakfast.”

Tips for consistency in achieving your fitness goals

The cold and often unpleasant weather which lies ahead may serve as a hurdle on the journey to your fitness goals. However, fitness coach Bontle Sekhu suggests the use of these easy tips to ensure that you remain consistent in working towards your fitness goals:

• Have a goal as motivation

Having a clear goal in mind is vital. You can do this by writing down your ideal weight or keeping an image of the kind of body you would like to achieve. Make sure this goal is where you will see it constantly as this will serve as motivation to actively work towards it.

• Create an accountability structure

Whether it’s signing up for a class, hiring a fitness coach or getting a gym partner, having someone to hold you accountable is highly beneficial. Knowing that you’re not all alone and that there’s someone waiting for you can give you the necessary push to wake up and make it to that morning session.

• Remember that summer is coming

Imagine the feeling of the warm sun kissing your skin as you sip on something refreshing while wearing a swimsuit at the beach. Remember that chilly days will not last forever and use that as motivation to work towards the kind of body which will enable you to comfortably show more skin.

• Invest in warm active wear

Keeping warm is very important. Invest in puffer jackets and good quality tracksuits as these will make it possible for you to go on your walk or jog. Warm active gear will eliminate the stating of unfavourable weather as an excuse.  

• Find pockets of comfort

This may be different for everyone, but it is important to do what is necessary to ensure that you are not miserable and uncomfortable as you take daily steps towards your fitness goals. For example, this may mean warming up the car 10 minutes before you drive to the gym. Looking into whatever small act that can make the journey less miserable and uninviting is worthwhile.

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