Winter is here. We inevitably seek comfort. A fire, a hug, and soup, to keep ourselves nice and warm! If we could be satisfied with just that, we would be fine, but the truth is that when it gets cold out, we tend to eat more. So how can we keep a summer body during the colder season? The answer is the same way we do during the summer. Exercising and eating nutritious homemade meals daily, are key to staying fit throughout the year.
If it were only this simple! The holidays have us indulging in foods we do not normally eat. As a result it’s easy to pack on some extra pounds with friends and family who encourage us to taste everything not once but twice, or thrice. The temptation is always there and desserts are part of the excitement, not to mention multiple cups of hot chocolate!
So how can you do things differently this winter, and stay in shape? Here are 10 ways to stay fit during the holidays:
1) MEDITATING is key to developing a focused and calm mind. Start with 5 minutes daily first thing in the morning as you wake up. Then after a week, increase to 10 minutes (or more), though the amount of time is not as important as the consistency. Therefore if 5 minutes is all you have, perfect! Do it every day. It’s a good habit and you’ll find yourself approaching tasks such as exercising, eating, and working, differently and perhaps more easily and enthusiastically. Make this mindfulness practice part of your lifestyle and feel the difference.
2) EXERCISE 5 to 6 days a week with 1 to 2 days of rest, no less and no more! 30 minutes to 1 hour of focused, uninterrupted physical activity including both warm-up and cool-down stretches before and after are key to staying fit and flexible.
3) Exercise early in the day on an empty stomach is always best. When you feel lighter, you will be more flexible because you’ll breathe better, and you’ll more likely challenge yourself to go a little beyond what you are used to.
4) Beverages are key to filling up and warming up. They also lubricate the joints so you don’t feel so stiff on a cold, rainy or snowy day. Also, the more liquid you drink, the less you eat. Fill up with a large cup of hot water, a simple Asian tradition that will improve digestion and get rid of toxins in the body as a result. You don’t like hot water? Add some fresh squeezed lemon juice, and if you wish a touch (just a delicate touch) of honey for an itchy throat. Drink a glass of water before eating food, always. This will fill you up so you eat sensibly at the table. 6 to 8 cups a day will do!
5) Love that cup of hot chocolate? Quit the marshmallows and whip cream. Try the Mexican classic: 1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened dark cacao powder, whisked with 1 cup hot water, a pinch of cayenne and cinnamon powder. Drink up as you might coffee, unsweetened. But if you must, keep the sugar to a minimum! As an alternative, make it with coconut milk instead of water, which is also very delicious.
6) Tis the season and soup’s on. Yet another way to fill up with liquid, and a delicious one at that. Split pea and carrot soup, pumpkin and goji berry soup, kale and bean soup, lentil and vegetable soup, all highly nutritious meals when made from scratch. Don’t buy ready-made soups from the can generally high in sodium and preservatives. Soak the beans overnight and they’ll cook in an hour. Get creative, plan ahead, make soup in large quantities, divide into quart containers and throw them in the freezer. You’ll be glad you have soup!
7) Watch your plate and be sure it is filled at least halfway with greens, a fist full of protein (bean, meat or seafood, as you wish) and or whole grains. Be sure you leave some white space on the plate. In India, where Ayurveda (the science of life) tradition originates, they say 1/3 water, 1/3 food, and 1/3 air, meaning you should always leave room to breathe. Get up from the table when you are pleasantly full and can still breathe easily. Overeating and feeling sluggish should never be an option, not even during holiday meals. Breathe between bites and meals and you’ll enjoy the food even more!
8) Love to snack? Apples, pears and pomegranates are in season. So are nuts (all year round). Eat them raw, and take your time peeling and cracking. Nuts in the shell are a great solution for eating less. Raw are best, plain-roasted are second best. Anything else such as flavored varieties high in salt and sugar are more harmful to your health than good, and super fattening.
9) Keep desserts to a minimum. They definitely are a sometimes food. Stick to fruit pies rather than creamy layered cake. Be sure to make the pies, rather than buy them, and use more fruit than filler. Gelatinous pies are not worth eating!
10) Don’t eat too late! Never a good idea to eat just before going to bed. Allow your body to digest the food for 3 hours prior to slipping under the covers. Dinner anytime between 6 and 7 PM is a good idea. Remember that from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to sleep, your body experiences different energy levels and therefore burns calories at a different rate. Early part of the day is when you should eat most of your food. After lunch is when you should slow down drastically. Eat more during breakfast, less during lunch, and even less during dinner. Skip carbs at night, to ensure a restful night and thin thighs!