By Ana Snyder, M.S., Exercise Physiology; CPT, FNS
It may sound like a cliche, but it’s true that summer bodies are made during the winter months. We all know what it’s like to wait until spring to begin working out for beach season, only to realize we don’t have enough time to fully achieve our goals before the Memorial Day barbecue. If you want to feel fit, confident, and gorgeous on the beach or at the pool this summer, there’s no time like the present to begin a smart exercise and eating plan—even if it’s cold and gray out as you’re reading this. I’ll take you through some of my favorite tips for honing your ideal summer body during the winter months.
If you have a packed schedule, this first tip works in your favor: don’t try to stretch your workout into 60 minutes or more if you can accomplish it in 20, 30, or 45. Lengthy exercise sessions that lack intention and focus aren’t as effective as shorter, more driven ones. If you’re likely to space out and stop watching your form halfway through a long workout, set your timer or watch for 20 minutes, power through your workout, and move on with your day.
I know you’ve heard it before (maybe a couple of thousand times, even!), but it’s so important to stay hydrated throughout the day, whether you’re exercising that day or not. Sipping on water throughout the day every day can improve your focus, prevent headaches and constipation, keep you feeling fuller between meals and snacks, and help you to lose weight if that’s one of your goals. And, of course, when you are exercising, your water bottle is one of your best workout buddies. Avoid dehydration effects like exhaustion and joint pain by taking the time to drink water during your routine.
If you’ve never explored foam roller benefits before, during, and after your workout, now is the time to try out a roller (and maybe some massage balls) of your own. They can help make your fitness routine more effective and relieve your aching muscles … and feel like a mini-massage if you’re sore or tight. Ahhhhhhh!
It’s true that developing a regular workout routine can motivate you to eat more mindfully and healthfully. After all, when you’re burning it up in fun workout classes every day or shredding it on the machines before you head into the office, you certainly don’t want to undo your good work when you sit down to lunch or dinner. But do you know what the best meal choices are for before and after your hip-hop dance class or session at the gym? Check out some of the best pre-workout meals for weight loss, and be sure you’re loading up on the macronutrients that perfectly complement your fitness routine.
Look, I know they’re not easy, but if you can perfect your pull-up and push-up form and work up to several reps of each, it’ll benefit your whole body. Both exercises engage your core and can help to increase your muscle mass. Once you’ve mastered the perfect push-up, it’s something you can do almost anywhere. And if you need some help adapting pull-up exercise for your current fitness level, you’re far from alone!
It’s so much easier to stay in a regular fitness routine when you’re enthusiastic about your workout. If you’ve grown bored of your usual routine, the winter months are a perfect time to shake things up, whether you try indoor swimming lessons in a heated pool, an energetic Zumba or barre class, or even a class in Bikram yoga. What have you got to lose (other than unwanted pounds and everyday stress, of course)?
In the cooler months, it can be tempting to live in your sweatpants (or even your pajamas) when you’re at home. Don’t give in to the temptation to wear all your comfiest clothing 24/7 just because you can. You may find that it encourages you to overeat! Instead, try wearing form-fitting outfits (think pants with waistbands that aren’t elastic, like your skinny jeans) to help you to be more aware of how much you’re eating at each meal.
I know it isn’t always possible, given your packed schedule, but do try to make a point of working out earlier in the day. Early morning workouts wake you up and set you up for a day of success, and you won’t have to drag yourself to the gym in the evening after a long day of work and commuting. Furthermore, getting physical too close to your bedtime might make it more difficult for you to fall asleep, which means you’ll be exhausted the following day and lack the energy and motivation to work out again. It’s important to be consistent, so make every effort to set yourself up for success every day.
Here’s a simple way to improve your health this winter: make sure you aren’t overdoing it on the salt in your diet (keeping in mind that table salt isn’t the only culprit, as many pre-packaged and processed foods contain high levels of sodium). If you decide to indulge in a salty snack every now and then, focus on moderation to avoid uncomfortable bloating and high blood pressure, among other unwanted health effects. Check out some easy tips for reducing the level of sodium you consume.
Keep an eye on your consumption of sugar and sugar alcohols, such as xylitol, which you may find in chewing gums that are labeled sugar free. Are you craving something sweet and comforting on a cold and gloomy day? As much as possible, choose treats sweetened with stevia or monk fruit, which won’t affect your blood sugar in the same way.
Many of us aren’t morning people, and that’s okay. Give yourself a running start by packing your gym clothing and gear each evening when you lay out tomorrow’s work outfit. If your fitness wardrobe needs a little boost, you might try one of our signature performance tee-shirts. Women can check out these comfortable, versatile seamless workout leggings, perfect for cooler temperatures.
‘Tis the season for happy hours, holiday parties, and festive drinks everywhere—most of them high in calories, and sometimes even high in fat! Enjoy alcoholic beverages like eggnog in moderation this winter by alternating with big glasses of ice water, diluting your drink with a generous splash of no-calorie seltzer, or simply setting a limit of 1–2 servings per gathering. If you’re ambitious, try one of our healthier cocktail recipes at your next event.
When the weather is dreary, it’s easy to fall into a routine of meeting for dinner or drinks with friends, rather than taking a long walk or run in the park. This winter, choose activities for socializing that don’t involve sitting down for a high-calorie restaurant meal or several rounds of alcoholic drinks, like indoor rock climbing or an energizing group fitness class.
It’s so easy to let the cold air, lack of light, and early sunsets send your overall energy level into a downward spiral. While it may not be possible for you to replicate the way you feel in the sunnier and warmer months, you can begin each day with positive affirmations and meditation to set yourself up for a productive and successful day, no matter the conditions outdoors. Check out these great 5-minute morning meditation tips if this wonderful practice is brand-new to you.
Cardio-based exercise is an important part of toasting unwanted fat and losing weight, but for some of us, it can get pretty dull and repetitive. If you find yourself growing bored during your cardio sessions, distract yourself with your favorite music, TV shows or movies (thank you, Netflix!), or podcasts. Just be sure you’re maintaining good form and not letting your energy level drop while you’re watching or listening.
I know it can be very tempting to let your dietary and exercise habits fall by the wayside during the winter months. By following these simple tips, however, you’ll keep yourself in shape and improve your energy level, and by the time summer arrives, you’ll be more than ready to hit the beach with confidence. Think of everything you’re doing now as important self-care habits to help carry you through the winter doldrums. We’ll be back to sunshine and warmer temperatures in no time!