As daylight hours get shorter and holidays ramp up, winter schedules and routines tend to shift. That’s when your clients’ fitness and nutrition habits can take a hit. Whether it’s from rounds of holiday parties or from ice storms raging outside, there’s a tendency to downshift healthy eating and regular activity.
Although some indulgence and relaxation can be expected, too much can make it tough to get back on a good fitness and nutrition track—and may even cause you to lose some clients long-term. To help your clients embrace the winter without losing sight of their goals, consider these 11 tips for the months ahead:
1. Plan for Decreased Activity
Realistically, clients are likely to downshift during the winter as their schedules change. Knowing up front that they may have to change their activity—for example, long Saturday runs might get replaced by numerous Saturday errands—can be helpful for avoiding feelings of frustration about shifts in their routine. Whether you’re advising them on fitness or nutrition, set aside some time to talk about these potential shifts and how they might affect their current exercise or meal plans.
2. Revisit Their “Why”
As clients consider their new potential schedules, have them jot down the reasons that they stay active and eat healthy. Those might include having a stronger immune system, preventing chronic pain, having more energy throughout the day, being able to keep up with their kids, and simply feeling amazing. Even if the “why” seems obvious, having it in writing can help remind them of their motivation and assist you in developing more effective programs for them.
3. Try New Things
As clients get stressed from holiday activities, this is a great time to advise them to try something new, because it can keep them feeling energized and motivated. For fitness that might mean suggesting new classes from yoga to bootcamp. For nutrition, it could involve trying out new spices, ingredients, or meal-planning strategies.
4. Shift to “Movement Snacks”
Having a block of fitness time is nice, but as schedules get packed, clients might need to sneak in some activity whenever they can. Moving throughout the day is an excellent way to keep up their fitness levels, so consider putting together suggestions for quick movement during the day, such as running up office stairs between meetings, parking at the end of every parking lot to get more walking in, doing lunges down a hallway, or practicing some heels-up balancing as they’re doing the dishes. These little “movement snacks” add up, and help your clients combat the effects of being sedentary during other times.
5. Plan for Snow Days
If you live in an area that gets snow, you’ll need to be especially creative with developing at-home workouts in case clients get snowed in. Having a full range of “movement snacks” is useful, but you may also consider some online resources, such as fitness sites that stream workout videos. Also, help clients plan for snow-day nutrition by creating a list of healthy ingredients they can have on hand and go-to recipes that are easy to make.
6. Gear Up for Outdoor Activity
Even though it might get cold that doesn’t mean everything has to be done indoors. If you haven’t explored snow-based activities with clients yet, this might be your year to start. Invest in some quality outdoor gear, such as snow pants and warm layers, and research options in your area. You could rent or borrow snowshoes, cross-country skis, skates, downhill skis, or even sleds. Just hiking through snow can be a killer workout.
7. Know Their Nutrition Obstacles
As the holidays get into full swing, it’s likely that your nutrition clients know what’s coming. Aunt Jenny’s famous rum cake, their mom’s super cheesy pasta dishes, the office party’s open bar—there will be tons of temptations. Having clients identify what’s coming up can help you both create a plan that balances out those obstacles with healthier holiday eating.
8. Have a Go-To Holiday Dish
Sometimes, the most difficult part of a holiday gathering is feeling like there’s nothing but less-than-ideal food options. Stack the deck in your client’s favor by creating a dish to share. A simple, healthy recipe made up of a client's favorite natural ingredients can be a go-to for any event and will be a valuable addition to any nutrition program.
9. Integrate Healthy Carbs
Winter often sparks the desire to hunker down and carb load. That’s because the lower amount of sunlight can affect your amount of serotonin, the hormone associated with feeling happy. Carbs can increase serotonin, but the unhealthy type usually send you crashing back down—and then reaching for more simple carbs, trapping you in a cycle. Help your clients opt, instead, for healthy carbs, such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, squash, and whole grains.
10. Boost the Immune System
As your clients work to maintain their fitness and nutrition levels, be sure they give their immune systems some extra attention with other strategies that can keep them healthy. Most notably, be sure they get enough sleep, keep alcohol consumption in check, eat more fermented foods so they can get beneficial probiotics, and drink an ample amount of water. All of these strategies can provide immune-system advantages, which is a big plus as cold and flu season swirls around.
11. Prep for Active Travel
Just as clients plan for fitness changes and nutrition obstacles, help them spend more time prepping for trips this winter. Maybe that means looking at running route options in a different city or researching yoga studios or gyms where they’re staying. Take time to research whether there are good grocery stores nearby, or restaurants that seem to have numerous healthy options.
In general, winter doesn’t have to mean hibernation for your clients, especially if that puts them on an unhealthy track. Helping them create solid plans and new goals can strengthen your professional relationship, and they’ll appreciate your efforts to make winter work for them.
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