The dreaded ‘How to get your summer body back’ headline: it’s back in full force as we move into the warmer months - perhaps with some extra weight around our middles from one-too-many pizza and pasta nights by the heater.
The best way for that ‘summer bod’ to return? Not to let it go in the first place, said GP Jill Gamberg of Double Bay Doctors.
“Take advantage of gyms offering specials to get more bodies in the gym in winter,” Gamberg said. If a past gym membership saw you being a no-show and throwing money down the drain, consider a personal trainer. “This investment may be just the incentive you need.”
If the cost of this is too steep, there are now so many free or inexpensive workout plans available, Gamberg said.
“Join an online fitness program, download a fitness app, or follow someone on social media who creates programs you can follow in the comfort of your own home; [in this space] you will also find like-minded people who encourage you to set goals.”
New training gear and setting a goal for spring – be it signing up for a marathon or upcoming charity walk - or booking a summer holiday can help motivate you to move your body, Gamberg said.
Don’t have a dog to force you to take that walk?
“Get yourself a training partner,” Gamberg suggested. “Nothing helps get you out of bed in the morning or turn up for your activity like being accountable to someone, for fear of letting them down.”
Sunlight exposure, due to its impact on brain chemicals like serotonin, the ‘feel-good’ neurotransmitter, can help prevent Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) - a depression that is most common in winter, Gamberg said.
“Symptoms include low energy, low mood, difficulty sleeping, appetite changes, and loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed” – all of which can contribute to winter weight gain.
“See your doctor if you think you are experiencing any of these symptoms,” Gamberg said. And make a point of exercising outdoors while the sun is out.
Rethink your food
“Keeping the winter weight off does not just involve keeping active; you also have to consider your daily diet,” Gamberg said, suggesting keeping a food journal.
“This can help you [really] see what you are eating and keep you accountable.
“People love soups and stews in the colder months but making healthier versions is key. Stick to tomato or vegetable-based dishes instead of butter, flour, or cream-based ones. Protein will help keep you full for longer; legumes, eggs, chicken or fish are good options,” Gamberg said, adding that satiating good fats like nuts and avocado, and filling fibre-rich whole grains are also important.
“Stay away from high calorie, highly processed, nutrient-poor foods which are often high in sugar and just put on the weight. A good rule of thumb is to avoid any packaged foods with more than five ingredients” – especially if they’re ones you don’t recognise.
“Staying well in winter and keeping the extra weight off [doesn’t have to be] difficult and may require only a little extra effort on your part,” Gamberg said.
Ultimately, “your goals for a healthy body should remain the same at every time of year.” No excuses.
- For more information visit Healthshare, a joint venture with Fairfax to improve the health of regional Australians. Or you can find a specialist near you using the health tool below.