Winter Watch

. Posted in Fitness

The cold and short days are a great excuse to curl up on the sofa – but good health doesn’t stop just because summer did, nor does the extra padding become invisible just because it’s hidden under woollen layers!

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We all know the feeling. With short days and cold mornings it takes a truckload of motivation to keep up the daily walk. What was a highlight in summer may seem like a chore in the colder months – the after-work swim feels like an arctic exploration and the swing of the golf club just isn’t the same with all those layers holding you back. But at least those very same layers can hide the winter bulge caused by too many hot chocolates and too little exercise, right?

According to nutritionist Susie Burrell, this is how a lot of her clients think. “In summer, we snack on fresh fruit and ice blocks on the way to the beach for a swim or a surf. The cold weather makes it tempting to sink into the sofa with a block of chocolate, and very often people choose to watch TV with friends instead of more active forms of social activity. It’s no wonder we put on weight,” she says.

Here are Susie’s top six tips for how to enjoy a healthy winter

1 Comfy choice

We all love a bit of comfort during winter, but why not swap comfort food with comfort activities? Hot chocolates with marshmallows, biscuits and chocolate may taste fantastic and make you feel good momentarily, but they’re also packed with fats and sugars that are difficult to burn off. Instead, opt for a massage or take a long, hot bath. These feel-good options will not negatively impact your health.

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2 Watch the heavy food

Cream and starch-based soups eaten with bread, heavy desserts and extra glasses of wine or spirits add up to a lot of extra calories. You don’t have to skimp on taste – simply look for lighter vegetable-based soups, swap the cheesecake for fruit with yoghurt and watch the number of glasses of alcohol you consume.

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3 No excuses

Just because you’re not showing off skin doesn’t mean you should eat more. Monitor your weight so that you can gain control of it quickly if it’s going the wrong way. For accurate results, weigh yourself first thing in the morning – but don’t go overboard! At the most you should climb on the scales once a week. Don’t turn it into an obsession. Remember, it’s about having a healthy body – not about a number on the scale or starving yourself.

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4 Stay active

Yes, it’s hard to get up in the morning. Yes, your nose runs in the cold. Yes, you can feel a cold coming. And yes, if you look for excuses, you’ll find them. Simply stick with your exercise program! If some of your favourite activities are harder to do in winter, like ocean swimming, opt for a heated pool. If you don’t like running in the cold, hit the gym. And if you’re frozen to the core, give hot yoga a go!

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5 Snack attack

The cold weather inevitably means we spend more time indoors. The extra time at home means easier access to food – and it’s a lot harder not getting a snack when you know it’s right there in your kitchen. Try to reduce your cravings by sticking to regular meals and mid meals. When you do need a snack, stay away from chips, cakes and most muesli bars. These foods are high in fat and refined sugars, and you’ll digest them more quickly and feel hungry again before you know it. Instead opt for filling options such as low-fat cheese and crackers, skim-milk cappuccinos or hot chocolate, fruit and natural yoghurt or nut-based muesli bars.

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6 Low fat isn’t always best

We know eating too much fat will make us fat too –  but don’t get tricked into thinking low fat is always better. Many low-fat foods contain the same number of kilojoules – or even more – than full-fat foods because of high amounts of added sugars. And because you think it’s low fat, it’s easy to see it as a guilt-free pleasure and eat much more than you should. So make sure you check the label before you buy!

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Susie Burrell is one of Australia’s leading dietitians with degrees in nutrition and psychology. She has worked in the area of nutrition for more than 10 years across a range of areas, including as a paediatric dietitian at The Children’s Hospital Westmead, and as a sports dietitian to a number of elite-level teams.