How to Maintain Your Health and Fitness This Winter

Now that winter is here, the days are shorter and North Texas temperatures have finally dropped. It’s often difficult to make yourself hit the gym or go for a run if it’s already dark when you leave the office.

Most of us find it a bit more tempting to head home and cozy up with a bowl of soup and binge our favorite Netflix series. So how can you maintain your motivation to stay healthy and fit through the cold winter months, even outside?

We talked to Nicholas Hastings, a certified personal trainer at Texas Health Fort Worth, about how to stay inspired to keep up our training during the winter.

“I like to forecast what my life will be like once it warms back up again,” he says. “While most people are staying inside and maybe making not-so-smart health and fitness decisions all winter long, I am preparing for spring and summer. This means eating well, working out and putting myself on a timeline to reach a particular goal before summer hits.

“Remember, once February rolls around, it’s too late to shed those pounds by March. If you start in December, you’ll be on track to make a huge transformation by Spring Break.”

The sun is setting earlier and earlier every evening, meaning that a post-work run or walk could be dangerous as drivers deal with poorer visibility. Hastings recommends not going it alone if you choose to exercise outside in the winter.

“Group workouts are the best route to go,” he says. “Not only are they more entertaining and motivating, but they’re much safer as well. Workout buddies can help keep an eye on any dangerous situations that may arise due to early sunsets.”

It’s probably also a good idea to be more aware of your surroundings and approaching cars by lowering the volume of your workout mix or only using one earbud.

As we all know, the holidays can also become a time of indulgence, first with the feast of Thanksgiving, followed by holiday parties and then New Year’s Eve, when we send off an old year with a big celebration. While we’d never recommend taking all the fun out of the holidays, try to compensate for decadent choices by doing something good for your health as well.

“Learn the concept of ‘offsetting,’ which basically means that when something negative is done to affect your fitness level, offset it with something good,” Hastings recommends. “This will not necessarily help you progress forward, but it’ll at least act as a placeholder until you are able to get back to a more normal lifestyle.”

Hastings provides the following examples of how to offset less-than-ideal holiday decisions:

  • If I want to eat a high-calorie dessert, I drink water with my meal instead of juice, sweet tea or soda.
  • If no gym is available, I substitute a jog around the neighborhood and add other bodyweight exercises such as planks, push-ups, burpees, etc.
  • If I drink alcoholic beverages, I make sure to fill up on water while drinking. This keeps me from overindulging on alcohol, as well as limiting the feeling of dehydration the next morning.
  • Last but not least, I always follow up with a morning run if I have had multiple drinks the previous night. Get those toxins out of the body ASAP!

While the holidays, cooler weather and shorter days may provide us with ample excuses not to eat well and exercise regularly, Hastings says that at the end of the day, the scale doesn’t lie…or accept excuses.

“Don’t let cold weather be the excuse you use to not stay healthy,” he says. “Find a way to work out and eat healthy, because at the end of the day, the scale only reads pounds, not temperature.”

At a Texas Health fitness center, you don’t need a perfect body, and you don’t need fancy attire. All you need is the determination to feel and look your best. To learn more about the fitness programs at our hospital-based centers, visit TexasHealth.org/Fitness.

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