In just two short weeks, winter will be a distant, chilly memory, and we’ll be able to embrace the early mornings and warm sunshine that SA is so famous for! If you feel the pillowy effects of hibernating a little more than anticipated, here are some of my tips to shrug off the chillier season.
Let go of bad winter habits with a nutrient-rich cleanse. Our bodies naturally preserve more energy in the cold, and with lower activity levels this can mean more fat storage. Skip the caffeine, wheat, refined foods, sugar, salt, red meat and fizzy drinks. In addition to prepping your body for summer exposure, you’re going to boost your energy levels exponentially too.
Eat your greens
Whilst this should be the norm year round, chances are you’ve been leaning towards denser, warmer foods to get you through winter. Since spring demands a boost in energy, boost your diet accordingly with more dark, leafy greens for concentrated vitamins K, C, E and many B vitamins, and minerals. Funny how warmer weather lets us encourage colder foods! Say yes to the return of fresh, nutrient-dense salads; a favourite tip of mine is to juice your vegetables for a powerhouse of nutrients in one cup.
Cut out (or realistically – down) the night cap
Many of us are privy to a glass of wine or two before bed. If this is you, reconsider your habits as spring approaches by reducing your intake or saving it for the weekend. In can contribute significantly to sleep deprivation and dehydration – two things you don’t want to be tackling in spring.
Eat in season
The foods that are fresh and in season are the ones you should be eating for maximum benefit in each season. If it flourishes in spring, it should be included in your spring diet. It’s hard to be a veggie expert and be selective at the supermarket when everything is on offer – hit your local farmer’s market, where the fresh produce is rightly limited to what Mother Nature has on offer this season.
Turn in early
If you’ve been doing all your socializing at night, make an effort to swap dinner dates for lunches and even an early morning workout. Making sure your nights are freed up for earlier dinners, down time and an earlier bed time is great for preparing for the early morning wakeups of spring and summer.
Hydration is no less important in the chillier season, yet many of us drink far less water than necessary in winter months. With hotter weather on the way, hydration is a must: make sure you are meeting your minimum needs of 250mls water for every 10kgs of body weight, replenishing your body and skin for spring.
Wake up to natural light
Sunlight is a powerful natural signal that can shift your circadian rhythms from drowsy to alert, whether you’re sleep-deprived or not. Skip the block out curtains and wake up to natural light, and you’ll rise more easily with the onset of spring.
Boost your brain and body first thing in the morning
Shake your body out of sluggish winter sleep and get moving as you wake up. A brisk walk will do the trick, but if that’s too much to ask so early on in the day, practice inverted yoga poses like the ‘downward dog’, or even some light stretching and jumping jacks. A pleasant alternative is to invest in a mini-rebounder for 5 minutes of bouncing each morning. This will wake up both body and mind, kick-start your metabolism and awaken your body before eating – it is such an underrated activity!
Warm up to the outdoors
For many of us, winter means too much time indoors, not enough vitamin D and lower energy levels. Make the most of the warmer weather – before it gets too hot – and step outside as often as you can. A ten minute walk between 11am-3.30pm is all it takes to replenish precious vitamin D levels – calibrating your mood and energy accordingly.
Get intense. Very often, spring sneaks up on you, leaving you with less time than you thought to get fit. If that’s the case, make every workout count. Switch to compound exercises over isolated ones to torch more calories during strength workouts. Shake up a steady-state cardio routine with interval training, and include bursts of 1-minute sprints followed by 3-minute recoveries help you burn fat rather than carbohydrates – your precious energy supplies. This type of HIIT training – in both cardio and strength – is known for getting the fastest results in the shortest space of time.