Written by Callum Melly
The Athlete’s Guide to Winter
As the saying goes, summer bodies are made in the Winter; but to be perfectly honest, why should a season determine our health and wellbeing?
I think the main issue to address here, especially in the UK is that our winter months can be brutally cold, dark and gloomy. During colder months, our bodies naturally want to keep us warm, it’s a survival instinct, so we are inclined to eat more in order to gather a layer of winter fat to keep us warm. So if we are looking to maintain our summer bodies, we need to ensure we stay active and continue to maintain a nutritious and balanced diet.
A lack of sunshine can lead to SAD (seasonal affective disorder) as well as a lack of Vitamin D which can result in depression, energy loss and in extreme circumstances, rickets. Therefore, I always recommend to my clients supplementing with a good quality Vitamin D supplement.
As a nation we tend to accept that it is socially acceptable to do less exercise during Winter, who want’s to go out for a run in the blistering cold or go to the gym before or after work when it’s pitch black? But that’s my point exactly, we should make the effort to stay active and eat healthily, there are the same amount of hours in the day and to be honest, the endorphins that are released during exercise can help to combat SAD and keep you more upbeat during winter.
People often turn to comfort eating during winter, rich and stodgy foods such as Sunday roasts, fish and chips and shepherds pie are typically British and again can add to that desired layer of body fat that we instinctively want to achieve, and it’s easily achievable due to the ridiculous amount of calories each meal contains. Furthermore, seasonal traditions such as Halloween and Christmas fall in our winter months and again, everyone tends to go overboard and think, oh well, I will just wait to New Year to get back into shape.
What people forget, or probably don’t even realize is that when we gain weight (body fat) due to a calorie surplus, we create more fat cells to store fat molecules as energy. Fat cells never disappear, we can burn the stored fat within the cells, but the cells themselves remain. Therefore, if we do gain weight (fat) and then lose weight, it is always possible to gain that weight back and more, due to those extra fat cells being created always being there.
I think we need to reassess how we look at exercising and eating during winter and make a conscious effort to maintain our exercise and healthy eating regimes. Workouts can be done in the comfort of your own home if you don’t want to drag yourself out of bed at 6am in the cold and dark to venture to the gym. Why not try my bodyweight circuit workout:
#1 30-45 seconds per exercise & complete every exercise back to back.
#2 Complete every exercise for the tempo 2:1:2, so if your doing a press up, you want to take 2 seconds during the eccentric lowering phase, 1 second pause when you are at the bottom of the movement & under optimal tension & then 2 seconds on the concentric pressing up phase.
#3 Complete 3-5 rounds & take 2 minutes complete rest between each round.
#1 Body Weight Squat
#2 Press Up
#4 Mountain Climbers
#6 Alternating Lunge (on the spot)
#7 Hip/Glute Bridge
#8 Russian Twists
Get your food fix by making tasty food swaps! comfort food can be healthy, how about making a lean mince and sweet potato shepherds pie for some post-workout recovery, rather than your traditional rich and calorific version!
What I am trying to say is that there are always healthy alternatives that will get you through the winter, but more importantly help you to maintain your summer body all year round! I personally like to stay motivated by having a winter training buddy and then you can hold each other accountable for your actions or lack of them!