The countdown to spring is on! Now is the time to resume your fitness journey so you are in peak shape for those balmy days! Here are five mindful ways from fitness instructor Kate Groube to keep you motivated and energised.
1. Conscious consumption: Turn to books and podcasts for inspiration during the colder months. In winter we tend to bunker down and this can lead to a lot of mindless consumption of information, scrolling through social media and tempted by clickbait headlines that end up filling our head with a lot of noise, which is not always positive or constructive.
I like to always have a book and/or a podcast on the go during winter. At the moment, I’m listening to the Nutrition Couch with nutritionists Susie Burrell and Leanne Ward. I’ve also started the audiobook version of The Resilience Project: Finding Happiness Through Gratitude, Empathy, and Mindfulness by Hugh van Cuylenburg.
2. Small reminders: An app a day: I swear by fitness apps to keep you going through winter. Apps give you the reminder and nudge you need to get a task done.
I like to pick a simple activity and find an app that can step me through it. I currently have a breath work app that steps me through a short, simple breathing exercise and I find that’s a really invigorating and relaxing thing I can easily slot into my day.
Choose something that resonates with you – perhaps it’s a guided meditation or an app that helps you wind down and prepare for a better sleep each night.
3. Strike a positive pose: Put a little yoga in your week: The pose I love for winter is the Heart Melting pose because it’s simple, requires a high degree of inward focus.
It's the perfect counter-balance to forward head posture, rounded shoulders and postural slumping that can happen with increased time in front of screens and devices in winter.
From all fours, keeping the knees aligned under the hips, walk the palms forward toward the top of the mat, bringing the forehead to rest on the mat or a block. If there is significant ‘pinching’ discomfort in the shoulders, try walking the hands wider than shoulder-distance apart.
A rolled mat or towel under the knees can help if you struggle with direct pressure on the kneecaps. The longer you stay in this pose, the more ‘heart-melting’ you can encourage.
You can find benefit from staying here for short periods like 5-10 breath cycles, or for a deeper release, try building to 2-4 minutes – without strain, pain or force.
4. Wiggle it: Warm up your feet with circulation-boosting exercises: When you feel like doing nothing else, just wiggle your toes!
You will get your circulation going and warm up those cold feet. This little sequence can be done sitting down.
Start by rocking your feet back and forward – up on your toes then roll through to your heels. Then keep your heels together and repeatedly tap your toes out to a v-position and then back in.
You can then do this movement in reverse, keeping your big toes together and taking your heels in and out forming an upside down ‘V’.
Follow this with ankle circles with each foot and a gentle foot shake, where you gently shake each foot up and down and side to side. You can do this sequence as many times as you like at your desk or in front of the tv.
5. Do something for the joy of it: Perk up your mood and shake off the winter cobwebs by going out of your comfort zone.
Throw yourself into a Cardio Dance class, get on a Reformer Pilates machine and have a chuckle at yourself attempting moves you’ve never tried before or grab a friend and enter a 6-week challenge.
I also enjoy make a new playlist with a purpose, whether it’s for exercise or for relaxation – even the act of making it can be really therapeutic and enjoyable on a cold winter’s day.
6. Me time: tea time: There are a lot of amazing teas on the supermarket shelf but you can also experiment with making your own using ingredients in your pantry.
One of my favourite things to do is make my own tea because I find enjoyment in making it as well as drinking it and sharing it.
My favourite recipe involves boiling two cinnamon sticks, four cloves and some ginger in a pot. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes to get all the flavours out.
You can add black tea bags if you want and once it’s in your cup add honey, lemon and orange slices to your taste.
Experiment with the recipe by adding other spices like cardamom or star anise for additional warmth and flavour – if you’re like me and have so many random spices in the cupboard left over from other recipes, then it’s time to make good use of them.
Making your own tea also makes the house smell amazing, which warms the soul in itself.
Fitness Instructor and PT Kate Groube is from Genesis Health & Fitness