Stop finding excuses!

We have all had those moments where we find ourselves sitting bleary eyed at 6am in the dark, cold depths of winter, staring at our trainers and desperately trying to muster what is left of our waning motivation.

Our list of excuses gets longer, and our waistlines get wider.

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But these months are the perfect time to embrace the outdoor elements, create new fitness and health goals, and discover just how strong you can be when you set your mind to a challenge.

Top 5 tips to beat winter

As an endurance athlete and adventurer I’ve spent a lot of time finding the right strategies to keep my fitness and motivation on track, and I’m going to share my tips and techniques for staying fit, happy and healthy over the winter.

1. Embrace winter with HIIT

One of my favourite types of exercise are HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training) workouts.

HIIT training has been, without a shadow of a doubt, the most effective catalyst for powering my strength and endurance to the next level and preventing me from the dreaded plateau.

On days when I want to get out into the crisp winter air I use it during my running and cycling sessions, pushing 60 seconds of maximum pedal or sprint power, followed by 30 seconds of light recovery with a gentle pedal or walk.

Winter is the perfect time for this type of outdoor exercise as the weather keeps you from overheating and the fresh air re-energises you.

On those rainy days I take it indoors for a home HIIT workout. Build your own bodyweight routine with power exercises like burpees, mountain climbers, squat jumps and skipping.

2. Plan a big goal for 2016

If you are struggling for motivation then sign yourself up for a big challenge or event in spring 2016.

It is far easier to stick to your diet and fitness goals if you are focussing on what you want your body to be able to do, rather than agonizing over the number on your scales and how you look.

Swap your appearance goals for fitness and healthy eating goals, concentrating on strength, stamina, flexibility and how energetic you feel.

Signing up to take part in an event you have never tried or never thought you could achieve, whether that’s a 10k run, a triathlon, a 24 hour sportive, or cycling 100 miles in a day, will give you the motivation you need to build your training up over the winter.

The key is to have fun and see your training as an exciting, personal challenge.

3. Discover warming winter recipes

Winter is hands down my favorite time of the year for trying new recipes. My trusty healthy eating cook books get dusted off and my house is filled with the smells of hearty homemade stews, soups and paleo feasts.

how to stay motivated to lose weight_2I love using warming spices in my cooking to add a festive feel to my food; and that doesn’t just go for my main meals.

One of my go-to recipes

A must during the cold months is this gorgeous anti-inflammatory smoothie that blends tropical fruit (because we all want to remember those summer cocktail vibes) with a touch of winter spice.

how to stay motivated to lose weight_3Blend pineapple, banana, mango natural yoghurt, coconut oil, turmeric and dust with cinnamon.

Winter food is packed full of flavour, colour and gorgeous aromas so get creative in the kitchen and try out some great new recipes to keep you energized.

4. Take control with smart planning

It’s pretty easy to feel like a hamster on a wheel running at a million miles an hour through the work weeks, only to find you have fallen off the healthy eating wagon without even noticing.

Those quick, unhealthy meals you grab on-the-go as you rush through your lunch break, and the nights spent catching some me time sitting on the sofa with takeout and a large glass of vino are easy and convenient, but not so great  for your body.

Smart meal planning can save you time and be the key to staying on track with your eating during those long, busy winter work weeks.

I spend a couple of hours on a sunday prepping around 50% of my lunch and dinner meals for the week ahead; anything from stews and soups to super clean rice, meat and veg pots. Pop them in the freezer and you’re on your way to a stress free and healthy week.

By the time Christmas celebrations come round you’ll be able to indulge without feeling in the least bit guilty.

Not only that, but you’ll see the new year in already ahead of the game when it comes to your fitness resolutions!

5. Buddy up

Trying to stay motivated as you hit the gym or pound the pavements solo can be a struggle.

It’s amazing what being in a social environment surrounded by like-minded and energetic people can do for your enthusiasm and will to workout.

They make you laugh through the sweat fests, and pull you up when they see you going off track. Find your local group classes, bootcamps, and running clubs, or just buddy up with a friend and hit the gym together.

Comradery is a magical thing so have fun with social training sessions and see your fitness level and mood skyrocket.

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