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Exercising & staying healthy in the winter months:

Tips to maintaining your exercise & healthy eating when it’s cold outside
By Amy Giannotti
Date: August 10 2014
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The winter months can be brutal to our fitness routines. The thought of going for a run might cross your mind but is then blown away with the gail winds and pouring rain you hear against the rattling windows.

It’s Saturday morning and you decide it’s a better day spent inside baking.

So it’s understandable how you can easily lose your mojo for regular exercise and healthy eating.

But now is the time to face and embrace winter head on.  Just fast-forward to next Summer. 

How do you feel buying the size larger than last year? Or having to go hard to drop the kilos again?  Wouldn’t it be simpler to plan smart?  And simply feel fit, strong, healthy and confident all year round? 

Here are my top tips to maintaining your exercise and healthy eating mojo over these winter months:

Set SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time bound) goals for winter exercise.

This could be that you want to run a 5 or 10km fun run in under a specific time or to just complete the distance without stopping. Get a few friends or family members involved and sign up for early bird prices. You can then help motivate each other to train and enjoy the friendly rivalry. If running is not your thing do some baseline measures at home.

Three easy tests to measure core, upper body strength and cardiovascular fitness can be done by performing 1) a maximal time plank hold, 2) maximal push ups and 3) testing your cardiovascular fitness by taking your resting pulse for one minute, then completing 5 minutes of step ups onto a block or bench and retesting straight after.

Set a goal to improve these by a specific number and retest in 6 weeks time. Your plank time and number of push ups should increase and your recovery pulse post 5 minutes of step-ups should decrease.

Find a weather proof, sustainable and enjoyable form of exercise

And especially one you can maintain over the winter. Group fitness classes at the gym, indoor swimming or cycling, join a dance class or get lessons with a friend or partner, get a PT or halve the costs with a training buddy. Get organised, you know if you just rely on your morning walk or run you will have to battle the wind, rain and possible hail.

Getting in the car driving with the heater on to an indoor cycling or aerobic class can be just as good of a workout, possibly safer and more enjoyable!

Always start the day with a Low GI and satisfying breakfast.

Of course I’m biased as I have my very own cereal product, Amy’s Grains (a mix of 6 whole grains).   But I also love wholegrain oats cooked with water or milk and topped with fresh fruit and yoghurt. This low GI, high fibre breakfast tricks those appetite hormones keeping you satisfied longer. In comparison to a more energy dense muesli, cooked oats  increase in size 2-3 fold.  This not only takes longer to eat giving your brain a chance to receive the signal that there is food coming in but also fills up more volume in the stomach, again sending messages to the brain letting it know that your filling up. The low GI property will also help prevent any mid morning sugar binges as your body is still utilising the slow releasing energy.

Plate it up, in the right portions

To help ensure you meet your recommended food groups, hence your nutrient requirements, base you lunch and dinner plate on ‘The Healthy Plate Model’. This includes ¼ of the plate lean meat or protein, ¼ of the plate a low GI carbohydrate and ½ the plate filled with non-starchy vegetables or salads.  For lunch, I love chicken baked with Moroccan spices, quinoa and vegetables and I often enjoy baked fish with pad Thai herbs, sweet potato and a variety of colourful steamed vegetables for dinner.

Following this model is great for those wanting to lose or manage their weight whilst feeling satisfied! Don’t be scared to bulk up that plate with your favourite non-starchy vegetables and remember they are mainly 90-95% plus water, high in fibre and essential vitamins and minerals and very low in kilojoules!

Cook in batches!

I always cook my low GI carbohydrates (quinoa, freekeh, faro, long grain brown rice, sweet potato etc.) and lean meat or protein (chicken breast, turkey breast, fish, lamb backstrap, egg, tofu, beans and lentils etc.) in batches to last a few days. Steamed vegetables is a staple at dinner so I always spend an extra minute cutting up extra and chucking them in the steamer for the next days lunch. A lunch box is packed in seconds in the morning when thing are ready to go!

Amy Giannotti is a Dietitian, Sports Dietitian, Personal Trainer, Author and athlete! She’s also just launched her own Food Product ‘Amy’s Grains’, a Breakfast staple made from 6 unique wholegrains designed for maximising sporting performance and weight management.

For more tips from Amy visit:

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