You//Fitness and Health
by Greg Small
As the weather changes for the worse and the mornings get darker it’s getting more and more difficult to drag yourself out of bed in the morning. But once you do manage to accept the inevitable and embrace the world outside of the duvet, there are a number of things that you can easily add into your routine to make the most of your day, to get the best out of yourself and to keep those energy levels high.
Firstly, flip your day on its head. Visit the gym in the morning and have a larger meal in the morning. This can set you up for a fantastic, energised day and gives you more time in the evening, which will be particularly important in the run-up to Christmas. If you struggle to find time for a workout in the morning, make sure you at least wake up to a ritual that doesn’t involve a coffee for breakfast before running out of the door.
With clients who are not 'morning people' I recommend packing everything you need for the next day ahead of time, ready to go. This will free up five or ten minutes in the morning where you can sit and ask yourself the same series of questions whilst having a cup of tea, or eating your breakfast. Ask yourself what will make today great, what am I grateful for, and ask what will make the day a good day?
If you don’t have time to fit in a full workout in the morning, making your commute a workout is a good alternative. Importantly, choosing to walk or cycle to work (avoiding the car or a cramped bus or tube) will have a positive effect on more than just your waistline. By stimulating your body and mind in the morning you will arrive at work energised, countering the lethargy-inducing dark mornings. Exercising first thing in the morning gets endorphins rushing through the body that will improve your mental state and move your metabolism out of the slow gears.
Keeping up energy levels throughout the day can be a challenge. There are things you can do at your desk to get you through the 3pm slump and avoid reaching for sugary snacks in the afternoon. Eating well and spacing your meals throughout the day will ensure you never hit that 3pm sugar low. A handful of fruit and nuts will tie you over and if you can’t do without, a couple of squares of 70% (plus) cocoa chocolate will hit the spot and stop you reaching for sugar-laden treats. If that fails, make sure you share treat foods with colleagues to reduce portions and ensure you don’t eat as much as you might want to. For those more fitness prone, try taking a break to do 25 air squats (appropriate space willing) to keep your metabolism high and then ask yourself if you really want that chocolate bar.
What you eat on one day can have a negative effect on your energy and how you feel the next day, which then encourages poor food choices to overcome the feelings of low-energy. However, avoiding any one particular food group creates a have and have-not mentality which will almost certainly lead to failure. Eating a well-balanced, well-rounded and colourful plate will lead to you having great levels of energy and a healthy digestive system. The occasional treat will stop the tendency to binge.
Keeping yourself motivated can be difficult, especially during the winter months when vitamin D can be in short supply, but preparation is crucial and the end results make the effort worthwhile. Pack your gym bag, your work clothes and snacks the night before, leaving time for reflection in the morning. Staying faithful to this advice will leave you feeling at your best not only from morning to afternoon but year on year.
Greg Small is the Head of Membership for the Register of Exercise Professionals (REPs)