Winter weight tips and exercises

Winter weight tips and exercises

Winter weight watch

Stay happy, healthy and motivated with these winter weight tips and exercises.

Winter’s icy grip takes hold this month, making you snuggle down into your cosy bed in the morning, wilfully ignoring your alarm clock’s constant reminder that you’re due for a gym session. It’s no wonder ‘winter’ and ‘weight gain’ often go hand in hand. With colder weather comes more time indoors, more comfort cravings, more wine in the evenings (who can refuse glühwein!) and less time spent being active.

Christine Phillips, certified health coach and wellness chef, says winter often proves a difficult time for people to stay motivated and in shape, and eat healthily. Even if your end goal is just to stay a constant weight throughout the season, you’ll need to be extra vigilant with your eating and exercise plan.

Tip: Darker mornings call for lazy lie-ins, but getting too much sleep can disrupt your body’s circadian rhythm, which
in turn affects other bodily systems, including metabolism – and that’s not good for your waistline.

Get motivated!

Christine has some great tips for staying motivated this chilly season. Get out and enjoy a whole host of new activities that a change of season brings.

  • Find an exercise buddy, or accountability partner, so you can’t pull out of your training.
  • Do an exercise that makes you have fun and laugh. Winter can be a depressing time so the more fun
    the better, even if it’s a dancing class like Zumba and you have no coordination.
  • Dress up and stay warm. If you’re in one of our sunnier provinces, take time to go outside during the day and enjoy the glorious winter sunshine and vitamin D – it’ll help boost your mood.
  • Try something different: a new hobby that entices your creativity, or learn how to meditate or do yoga. Do something for yourself, it’s okay to be a little selfish.

Eat this

‘In winter, we naturally start to crave comforting, warming foods,’ says Christine.

‘Mother Nature has come up with seasonal foods that benefit your body at this time of year and they’re exactly what your body requires to stay warm, give you comfort as well as boost your immune system with flu-fighting nutrients.’

While it’s ok to indulge in winter comfort food – and you should – keep a few things in mind to prevent winter
weight gain:

  • If comfort is what you’re after and starch and carbohydrates are calling, opt for sweet potatoes and
    winter vegetables.
  • Moderation is key. While it’s ok to indulge in winter comfort food, don’t go over the top, and rather fill your plate with a majority of vegetables.
  • Stay hydrated. In winter you tend to drink more tea and coffee, hot chocolate and other sweetened beverages. With less intake of water in the cooler months, extra weight creeps on. Aim for your 2-3 litres a day, especially if you’re consuming alcohol and sugar.
  • Eat clean and avoid the urge to order in or get takeaways. Cook from scratch at home and you’ll immediately be feeding your body more nutritious food that’s less saturated with sugars, fats and salt. But don’t forget your body needs a healthy dose of good fats, like those in avocados and walnuts, to stay healthy in winter.
  • Eat seasonally and boost your system with vitamin C from oranges, kale, guavas and red peppers. These foods are also naturally sweet to combat cravings.
  • Add chromium and potassium supplements to your vitamin intake. The combination also helps reduce sugar cravings.
  • Look after your gut health and mood with a daily probiotic.
  • If you do need a sweet treat, reach for dark chocolate, which is full of antioxidants and an excellent mood food that stimulates and energises.


Home comforts

If cold weather is preventing you from getting to the gym or out onto the roads, dashing your winter-weight dreams, these simple, high-intensity, interval training exercises (HIIT) are perfect to do in the comfort of your own home. They’re also ideal for boosting cardio and burning unwanted fat.

The HIIT winter circuit 

Repeat each exercise for 30 seconds, followed by 30 seconds of rest, before moving on to the next exercise.

  • Beginners: 30 seconds of exercise followed by 30 seconds of rest.
  • Intermediate: 45 seconds of exercise followed by 20 seconds of rest.
  • Advanced: 1 minute of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest.

Backwards lunge 

Step backwards onto right leg and bend downwards into a lunge position. Come up to standing and repeat with left
leg going backwards.

Star jumps

Mountain climbers 

In a push-up position, bring opposite knee to opposite arm, alternating legs.

Side plank 

Hold pose or raise top leg for alternate position.


Start with a push-up, then jump feet towards hands, finishing off movement by jumping up with arms raised.

V Hold 

Lying flat on your back, hands clasped behind your head, come up into a stomach crunch position with legs straightened, forming a ‘v’ shape with your body. Hold.

Contact Christine at exercises by Janine Kinsey, biokineticist at
Wanderers sports medical centre, Joburg.


The advice contained here is strictly for informational purposes. The content is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, and treatment. Always consult your GP or a doctor for specific information regarding your health.

Joni van der Merwe

About Joni van der Merwe

Your Family’s Digital editor. Avid retweeter. When I’m not scrolling Instagram you’ll find me in my garden. Keen on DIY and I don’t believe there’s anything that can’t be fixed with some chalk paint.


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