Prepare yourselves, as we are coming up to one of the toughest times of the year – the days are shorter and there seems little time for keeping fit and healthy. Doing the job I do, it’s important I have enough energy to stay focused, particularly on days when I’ve not had enough sleep. Being mum to an energetic three-year-old means it’s not always easy to fit exercise in, but I find it’s really important to squeeze it into life whenever and wherever I can. I’m really aware how food impacts my energy levels, too – not only in helping to keep my body in shape, but also in keeping my brain alert and my mood high.
It is easy to let things slip at this time of year, and according to research, people tend to gain an average of five to seven pounds during these months. We cover up with jumpers and layers, and the temptation is that no-one will notice a few extra pounds. We turn to comfort foods and winter warmers. Maintaining good habits now, though, will see you through Christmas, and mean the start of the year won’t result in a punishing January to get back on track. It helps to have something to aim for, so set yourself a goal. I don’t have a secret short-cut to keeping winter pounds at bay, but these are the things that work for me.
1. Perseverance is key
Don’t starve yourself – you’ll feel lousy and won’t be able to sustain it. Balance good eating with a fitness routine. It’s not rocket science – eat fewer calories than you burn every single day and you will lose weight. Don’t expect amazing results straight away but, if you stick at it, this approach will work. Slow and steady wins the race. Seasonal Affective Disorder impacts a number of people over the winter months, so boost your nutritional intake to support your system.
2. Eat the right foods
Focus on nutrition, not calories. I don’t eat lowfat ‘diet’ food, but enjoy things like avocados which, although are higher in calories, have good fats and are very filling. Watch out for the times when you feel tired and sluggish, as that’s when you’ll crave all of the wrong things. When that happens, I opt for a green smoothie, or some nuts or seeds.
3. Set some goals
Maybe in a month’s time you want to have lost a few pounds (make it a good but achievable step), or you want to be able to run a certain distance. I’m not saying you need to get to a certain size or weight, but get to the stage where you are happy with how you look.
4. Keep track of progress
Keep a food diary and be honest about everything you’re eating and drinking. Keep track of your weight and the exercise you’re doing. Get technology to help you – there are so many easy ways these days. The My Fitness Pal app helped me to lose all my baby weight within four months after having Ella Rose.
5. Fit in fitness
Exercise whenever and wherever you can. Don’t use lack of time as an excuse. It’s not all about finding the time to go to the gym; it’s about finding a way that works best for you. I often do sit-ups or squats in my dressing room first thing. You could also get weights for your home, do circuits, and get your children involved. You’re giving them a gift by getting them into exercise at an early age, as it then becomes a habit for life. My daughter Ella Rose is three and we do all sorts activity together, such as races in the garden or baby yoga – she even has tiny weights to lift to ‘do her exercises’ next to me! The key thing is to build it into your everyday life.