Why winter is the perfect time to get healthy
Cold weather can be an easy excuse to curl up on the couch with a hearty serve of lasagne and the latest true crime documentary on Netflix. But winter is actually a great opportunity to establish a healthy food and fitness routine. I know, you’re probably wanting to throw your snuggly winter slippers at me for writing that – but it’s true!
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Just ask Rachael Finch, model and founder of the Body By Finch program and B.O.D By Finch activewear label. According to Rachael, winter is the perfect time to focus on your health and fitness. “When spring and summer hit, you’ll feel even better if you’ve put in the work to stay healthy over winter,” she says. “Not only will you have a more productive summer, but you’ll set your mind and body up for a successful 2019.”
You probably need some convincing, right? No prob – we asked Rachael to spill all her winter fitness secrets, which are sure to change your mind (especially when you get a load of her mouthwatering recipe!). Here’s why working out in cold weather and getting healthy in winter could be the best decision you make all year.
Why is winter a great time to start working out and eating healthy?
We all know about those winter weight woes – it’s cold so we’re less interested in getting outdoors or out of bed in the morning, let alone to the gym. But before you know it, it’s August 31st and your pants don’t button up. “We’re more likely to put on weight by overeating and exercising less due to the cold and limited daylight in winter,” Rachael says. “Finding an exercise or healthy eating plan that you can stick to will help avoid the extra kilos and keep you feeling strong, healthy and motivated.”
And yes, the easy option is to just stay couch-side but if you make a change now, you could be really reaping the benefits later. Especially when the flu season really hits! “In winter we are more prone to catching viruses and bugs,” says Rachael. “Staying active and nourishing your body with adequate nutrients will help fight these off and keep you feeling good.”
Getting (and staying!) motivated in winter
Image via @rachael_finch Instagram
Let’s be honest, this is the hardest part – motivation is one of the biggest deterrents to establishing a healthy routine in the colder months. But you can overcome it, whether it's in relation to getting out of bed to exercise or cooking a healthy meal when you just can’t be bothered.
“When it comes to cooking, I constantly remind myself that if I eat rubbish food, I become that. Choose to nourish your body with wholesome ingredients that give you natural energy and sustain you!” says Rachael. “I use my slow cooker so much over winter, it’s so easy to throw everything in before I leave the house in the morning, and then I come home to a delicious and healthy meal later.”
It can also help to work on your mindset during winter. If you make your winter fitness routine a positive part of your day, you’ll find it easier to to stay committed. Other times you just need a good motivation hack, which Rachael relies on to keep her going over winter.
“Turn on the music to get the good vibes pumping. Create a playlist with your favourite songs & have it on standby,” she suggests. “Making a time and place to meet a friend for exercise is also a great way to be held accountable and actually get it done. Practicing mindfulness and meditation can also be beneficial – staying calm and finding time to be more ‘present’ will help keep your health and cravings on track, setting you up for more successful health outcomes.”
What type of food and exercise works best for winter?
Now that you’re set on establishing your new routine, it’s time to figure out exactly what you’d like to do. When it comes to exercise, anything that will keep you warm is the obvious choice. “Go for exercises that get the heart rate up and keep your whole body warm, such as full body, compound movements like burpees and jump squats,” suggests Rachael. “Cardiovascular sessions are great throughout winter because your body stays warm and you improve your heart health.”
But no tapping out if you’re not much of a cardio fan – there are still options for you. “HIIT sessions (High Intensity Interval Training) are brilliant if you have limited time and want maximum results,” explains Rachael. “HIIT gets your heart rate up, boosts your metabolism and you’ll be burning fat even after the workout is finished. We include 3 HIIT sessions a week on my program, Body By Finch, where we work at high intensities for short periods of time in a circuit-based style.”
When it comes to the kitchen in winter, Rachael suggests focusing on warming foods or those that are easy to digest. “Our body is already working hard to fight off bugs and to keep us warm. Fuelling it with nourishing food will help keep you feeling amazing”, she explains. To help you get started, Rachael has shared one of her favourite healthy winter recipes. Get ready to drool!
Penne with Chilli Pancetta & Tomato
Prep time 20 min
Cook time 10 min
120g thin slices of pancetta, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g tin crushed tomatoes
1 tsp chilli flakes
2 tbs finely chopped parsley
salt & pepper, to taste
2 cups rocket
80g dried wholegrain penne (gluten free or regular pasta)
20g finely grated parmesan cheese
1. Heat pancetta and garlic in a large saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until pancetta is browned and garlic softened, around 5 minutes.
2. Add tomatoes and chilli flakes and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Stir through parsley and adjust seasoning.
3. Meanwhile, bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil, add pasta and simmer for 7-8 minutes (see packet cooking times). Drain and toss with sauce until pasta is well coated.
4. Divide between two bowls and top with parmesan and extra chilli flakes to serve.
How do you stay healthy in winter?