The dos and don'ts of winter fitness

Whether via email or just out and about in the real world, a common question I receive begins with "What do you recommend …?". So this week, here's a few simple dos and don'ts I've passed to clients, mates, and friends of friends.

1. Do what you hate

It sounds odd, but give it a whirl. For example, I hate broccoli. Can't stand it. Let's be honest, a big plate of steamed veggies is not the most exciting thing on the menu. Also, I hate a stairs session - the leg burn, the cardio burn. Who would cook veggies and hit the stairs for fun? Nobody.

Yet, I order the broccoli, and I hit the stairs … and my body loves me for it. Food and fitness can taste worse than medicine, but the nutrients and physical benefits from healthy-yet-hated regimes pay off for years.

2. Don't starve, but do eat less

The body is one smart, efficient machine. If you try to cheat it by starving and eating under 1000 calories (4184 kilojoules) per day, it will slow down to protect vital organs. You won't have energy, and you won't even lose weight because the body will do whatever it can to protect itself … and not change.

However, portions are becoming American-sized in Australia, and it's time we ate less. Reduce portion sizes, and give some thought to eating a lot less at dinner. Waking up hungry with a healthy start to your day is much healthier than going to bed with a food coma.

3. Do eat more fibre

Fats, processed foods, protein, and sugar make the health headlines these days, but the benefits of fibre should be known. High-fibre meals help in weight loss as it makes a meal feel bigger and linger in your system longer. Fibre helps with colon health, and fibre makes time on the toilet more pleasant. Men should be getting 35 grams of fibre per day, and women should be getting around 25g per day.

4. Don't wait until it's warm to exercise

From coast to coast, we seem to wait until October/November, then think "How am I going to lose the winter saddlebags to get beach-ready?" Invest in a food and fitness plan now, and you'll enjoy the rewards on day one of the new season.

5. Do drink more water

Perform a personal audit of what liquids you're putting into your body. If you're constantly grabbing fizzy drinks, and sports drinks, chances are you aren't filling up with enough water. The body is made up of more than 50 per cent water. Your body needs water, not sugar-laden energy drinks. Just a 2 per cent drop in the body's water can cause mental fatigue. Fruit and veggies are full of water, so make sure you're adding an additional two litres of water per day into your diet.

6. Don't think supplements are the answer

You've read it before here – protein supplements are not the magic pills to weight loss and muscularity. In fact, they are not required at all, as chances are you don't know anybody that's protein deficient - healthy diet or not. A 250g portion of salmon has more than 50g of protein in it. From chicken, pork, lamb and steak to milk, quinoa and tofu, there are endless ways to adequately consume protein within your diet. I'll choose a fresh, tasty meal over a processed protein drink any day of the week.

7. Do hit the weights

Ever check out the treadmill and cross trainer junkies? They put in serious hours at the gym, and their bodies stay the same for years. Cardio work is great, but weights build muscle, tone your body, and increase weight loss. And ladies, you will not bulk up – trust me on that one.

8. Don't fall into the "information overload" trap

A quick Google search on the word diet and then exercise came up with more than one billion results. Exercise options are endless. Diet options are endless. We live in the information age, and sometimes too much information confuses the masses. Inherently we all know what is good (and bad) for our bodies, and too many experts and opinions (including mine) muddy the waters. It's your body, it's your lifestyle change – keep it simple and go with what works.

9. Do eat in season

Chef Mother Nature provides simple eating instructions – eat fruit and veg when it's in season, and two things will happen: a) they will provide you with the most nutrients, and b) you can be assured of the freshest and tastiest flavours. Further, supply and demand dictates if it's in season, it's plentiful. And if it's plentiful, it's affordable. Here's a chart to put on your refrigerator. It's on mine.

For me and many of my clients, food and fitness are the means for energy. That energy means better sleep, sex, relationships, and increased work productivity. Feeling better means living better.

We've all got opinions, and I value yours. Throw your own "Dos and Don'ts" into the comments and we can all try them out.

What are the Dos & Don'ts that you recommend to others?

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