On a balmy, summers evening in August, you may certainly not be adverse to a game of tennis or a run in the park. A long cycle ride at the weekend? Why not!
Roll on 3 months, the temperature has dropped 15 degrees and by 6pm when you finally get out the office, daylight has all but disappeared. Oh, and it's raining.
Even with the best intentions in the world, it can be very easy to lose the motivation to exercise in the winter months. With the shorter days and lack of sunlight can come fatigue, lack of energy and lethargy. But you know that exercise makes you feel good, it produces endorphins which give you that post‐ gym high. So what can you do to break this cycle, and motivate yourself not only to take your gym kit to work, but to use it too?!
As simple as it sounds - not just after exercise, all day long! Not commonly known, dehydration can be one of the major causes of afternoon fatigue. You should be drinking water throughout the day so that your urine is light coloured. And if it proves a challenge for you to drink enough water on a cold, winter’s day, try herbal teas instead.
Eat predominantly nutrient-dense foods
The production of energy in every cell of our body requires an abundance of vitamins & minerals. It therefore figures that the more we can get from food, the more energised we are going to feel! When it comes to fruit and vegetables think rainbow- every colour represents a different fatigue-fighting antioxidant. Brightly coloured berries and dark leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli and collard greens are all bursting with a wealth of nutrients.
Try a nutritional supplement
When it comes to energy-boosting, there is a supplement to suit everyone. CoQ10 and the B vitamins are vital for energy production within the body. Ginseng has been found to stimulate the central nervous system and increase resistance to fatigue. With even some research suggesting that different times of day can have a positive impact to your nutritional intake as shown below:
Snacks are important
If you haven’t eaten since lunchtime, a trip to the gym at 6pm is the last thing you are going to feel like doing. A snack at around 4pm combining protein and complex carbs will provide you with a source of slow-released energy, and give you the push you need to get onto that treadmill!
Small and regular meals
In view of keeping your energy levels sustained and balanced, 5 small-serving meals per day may be preferable to 3 hearty meals. Eating more frequently, and in small servings, can prevent over-eating, and will also increase your metabolism and your calorie burning potential.
And lastly, alongside all of this, keep your motivation for exercising at the forefront of your mind! Remind yourself that by getting yourself to the gym (whether it is reluctantly or not!) you are preventing many future health problems, keeping trim, and doing something fantastic for your body. When it comes to next summer, you will be so pleased you did it!
Naomi Mead is a nutritional therapist. She has a particular interest in the areas of weight management, female health, sports nutrition, and digestive disorders. If you would like to follow Naomi you can follow her on Twitter or read her other expert articles on Nutrition Expert from Healthspan.