How To Keep On Track As The Seasons Change
Furry ears, colder temperatures and shorter daylight hours makes staying on track more of an effort. Winter can make it hard to jump out of bed for an early morning ride or workout. What some of us would prefer to be doing is snuggling under the covers until the last minute, and spend the day rugged up enjoying winter warming foods before finishing the day with a glass of red or two!
It’s not uncommon for excuses to creep into our regimen and for our riding hours to decrease along with the kilos that start sneaking up on us. But it isn’t all about weight; when we let our healthy lifestyle slip, we’re more prone to catching a miserable cold and feeling run down as our body tries to cope.
The truth is living a healthy lifestyle isn’t a seasonal thing. It’s something you need to adopt all year round and find ways to keep yourself motivated and inspired to stay fit and eat well.
Continue to set realistic health and fitness goals
Winter is probably one of the toughest seasons to keep up your fitness regime and stay true to your health goals. Especially if you have turned your horse out or the weather is getting the best of your riding time. Often for many riders this is the only form of exercise they are doing and so when this gets dramatically reduced through winter, its expected that the body will notice it.
If your feeling your consistency drop, it’s time to start setting some realistic goals and be clear about how much movement you are doing each day. I find the best way to make yourself more accountable is to write them down. Schedule your workouts in your diary, just like you would a meeting or doctor’s appointment. Write down any goals you want to achieve (i.e. fitness, diet, emotional, professional) and put them where you will see them daily, like on the fridge or bathroom mirror. This will help you to stay motivated and continue to reassess or challenge yourself. If you are riding as much through winter, be clear about how you are going to replace this riding time with some other form of movement.
Nourish yourself with home cooked meals
It’s not unusual for your appetite to increase during winter making it much more tempting to fill up on those feel good foods. Buttered beads, pastas, coffees, and of course, those sugary treats! The best way to combat consuming excess calories, is to plan your meals for the week. If you prefer to do a bulk prep on a Sunday afternoon, make sure you schedule it in so that other commitments don’t get in the way. For those who enjoy cooking on a daily basis, make a bit extra so you can store a couple of emergency meals in the freezer.
Keep hydrated to remain energised
You might think that your body doesn’t need as much water in winter when compared to the hotter months, but your fluid stores are still being depleted. If you are exercising regularly it’s even more important you replace the fluid you’ve lost during your workout. Drinking water throughout the day will help you remain energised and will also nourish the skin, which may be feeling a little dry as the temperature drops.
The combination of being cold and bored lends itself to emotional overeating. Chances are at some point, you’ve caught yourself eating for the sake of it, not because you’re actually hungry. Learning to master the art of eat mindfully will help become more aware of your food choices and stay in tune with your appetite.
Detox if you feel the need
Detox is often associated with summer, when the weather is warm and salads and green juices are all the rage. You can however, cleanse in winter if you feel a greater need to nourish and support your body. Warming foods like soups and slow cooked stews are real foods your body will thrive off. Up your intake of vegetables to increase the nutrient content of your meals and play with warming spices like paprika and ginger. These will help increase up your metabolic rate and assist in keeping the bugs at bay.
By making your health a priority you can continue to make improvements in your riding even when you aren’t able to ride. So don’t let winter turn you into an unfit and unhealthy rider. Instead use it as a time to improve your strength, fitness, balance and overall wellbeing, so as soon as you are able to get back riding, you can truley focus on your horses needs and start achieving those goals for the season ahead.
For more advice, workouts, nutrition and tips to help you stay fit and healthy off the horse, check out our Dressage Rider Training Program. All the tools you need to take care of your body as much as you do your horses. 12 week program that guides you step by step on how to take your riding to the next level. Learn more here.