It’s about half way through winter and traditionally it’s the season when we’re rugged up in lots of layers of clothes, not doing too many outdoor activities and as a result we’re a bit less concerned if we pile on a few extra kilos and don’t really look our best.
Fair enough really too! But, lets think ahead a bit because Spring is just around the corner, and that’s the time we’re going to be looking to get into shape for Summer. So, today lets talk a bit about what we should be doing NOW to get ready and be prepared.
First off; nutrition.
Read this, because it might just be the opposite of what you’re expecting me to say. Winter is the time to UP the calories, for most of us.
Especially for women out there who might already be eating in a calorific deficit (aka, not eating enough), now’s the time to get into the habit of eating at your recommended maintenance level. By maintenance level, I mean the amount you can eat to stay at your current weight. Think of it this way, if you’re not eating enough and still not losing weight, where can you go from there? Eating even less is only going to mean malnourishment, and the sort of horrible health complications associated with eating disorders.
The body adapts to how you treat it, good or bad. If you don’t eat enough, the body slows down, starts expending less energy and storing as much as possible. Think of a race car being run on lawnmower fuel… it might still get you there but the performance is going to suffer and it’s a lot more likely to break down, right? Your body is the same, you gotta give it some decent fuel!
So since it’s winter anyway, work out your recommended maintenance level of calories based on gender, age, current bodyweight and activity level. Now, work out a meal plan that hits around this target figure, with a good balance between protein, fats and carbohydrates. Stick with it for a few months at least until the end of winter, and give your body a chance to get used to being fueled correctly for a change.
If you’re really struggling to get those extra calories in, look for some things that pack a lot of nutritious calories into a small amount of food. For example, a quarter cup of almonds contains about 215 calories, mostly from healthy dietary fats.
Again, it’s winter so (unless you happen to like this sort of thing, weirdo) we’re not talking about being outside in the horrible conditions doing laps of the park or sprints up and down the hill. I can barely force myself to do this stuff when the sun is out, let alone when it’s cold and raining!
Instead, it’s a great time to work on your strength. Lay down that ground work in the gym, building some muscle, addressing any muscle imbalances, functional, or postural issues. Of course, all of this is an ongoing process that you’re not likely to resolve within a few months, but now is the time to get started if you have not done so already. By Spring you will have established that base line of fitness and functionality which will allow you to go up a gear and achieve great results by Summer.
The results are always what matters most. If you follow my advice in the paragraphs above, you’ll be in a good position to set things up during the Spring, as well as being able to reduce calories again (by a sensible amount! not back to starvation levels) to really blast through whatever remaining body fat stores you have.
You can’t really run at a deficit indefinitely, so Winter is the ideal time to indulge a little and eat like a normal person without feeling too guilty about it.
Get stuck into it!