Either you love winter, or you simply hate it. People have different tolerance levels to cold. Personally I am good with winter but I know many people who dread it. For those who have difficulties adjusting to the cold, they often struggle through the winter months just trying to stay warm which often renders them inactive. A lot of gym goers drop out from their routine where the idea of a warm blanket and heater takes precedence. Exercise then becomes a distant thought.Also people find it comforting that they can hide their fat behind layers of warm clothing. A lot of people often share that they eat better during winters. The reality is that you are just seeking comfort in warm and sweet beverages and hot and spicy foods that will only contribute to weight gain. There is no doubt that training in the winter months can be uncomfortable. But that’s just until you start. I encourage everyone to remain mindful that the body needs to remain active, healthy and fit irrespective of the seasons. The ill effect of an unhealthy lifestyle doesn’t differ be it summer or winter. So instead of hiding behind excuses and procrastination, make a firm commitment to get out of thismindset. Instead, this yearpush your fitness into forward mode and enjoy the variety of exercises and workouts you can especially do in this season. I have listed here five things to help you along the way:

Insulate properly: Insulate yourself properly for consistency in your workouts. Our bodies working capacity, performance and enjoyment factor grows as you build yourself into your workout. One of the main reason is increase in core body temperature as you move. Right choice of clothing will not just give you impetus to start your workout but to stay with it.You should wear warm and comfortable clothes that allow unrestricted movements. Layering of clothes is the best way to maintain body temperature for both indoor and outdoor activities. For your innermost layer, use fabrics such as polypropylene and fleece, light garments designed to keep your body temperature steady while wicking the moisture away from your skin to the surface layer of clothing instead of absorbing it. The middle layer serves as an insulator. A light easy to open jacket can go on as the top layer which can be removed as it getswarmer.

Fire up the motivation: Motivation is the key to why we do what we do.Find the right reason for your exercise and nutrition needs. It could be feel good factor, enjoying and savouring your next meal without fear of gaining weight, boosting energy, self-image and confidence, taking your fitness tempo to another level, developing a new exercise related skill, overcoming a medical condition… it could be just about anything but the key is that it should resonate with you and feel right. With the right motivation you can overcome all psychological, mental and emotional roadblocks.

Goal: Having a goal is one of the most important components in making your fitness efforts successful. It is the key to get you to your desired result. It is also a pre requisite to planning and taking the appropriate actions that are needed to reach the goal. I always suggest that you start with small but achievable goals that will eventually take you to your target. It could be something as small as starting with taking a 20 minute walk every day or cutting down on the number of cups of tea and coffee you normally enjoy.

Exercise: Did you know that you burn more calories exercising in winter because your body has to work harder to keep itself warm. Exercise also helps improve the immune system which protects against common winter ailments such as colds and coughs. You should ideally aim to exercise 3-5 days in a week for 45 minutes to an hour each session. If you are in your middle years and unsure of your health status and want to start exercise, I would recommend that you first seek professional and medical advise. For those already exercising, do things that keep you moving like circuit training, HIIT, cross training etc which are also time efficient and effective.

Winter foods: Winter months offer a bounty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are loaded with vitamins and energy and are low on calorie. Enjoy the local produce of mandarins, oranges, kiwi, berries, apples and the different varieties of greens. Hot soups and stews are great. Also replace regular tea and coffee with green teas or warm water.

Sandesh Palungwa Limbu, Certified professional fitness instructor, founder of RAGE Fitness, and specialises in mixed martial arts.

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