No sun - no moon!
No morn - no noon -
No dawn - no dusk - no proper time of day.
No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,
No comfortable feel in any member -
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! -
This poem written by Victorian poet, Thomas Hood is as true today as ever it was. You can sense the monochrome season which perhaps represents the antithesis of a Tuscan vista in summer.
We do our best in northern Europe to celebrate winter and all its joys: open fires, snuggling under duvets while watching a classic Dickens’ serial or eating hearty fare to ward off a chill.
Yet high blue skies, bright light and warm sunshine are not on the menu for the next few months. So, we need to understand that functioning well during this season is an important responsibility. We need to maintain buoyancy and physically activity until the summer solstice returns.
Anyone who has experienced one of the Flavours Pilates courses will already know, of course, how important full-body fitness is. Feeling fitter, as a consequence of increased core strength, will assist everyone to breeze through these winter months while feeling healthier and effervescing with energy.
Pilates, after all, exercises the whole body; muscles are strengthened and by improving balance, movement and flexibility you may well feel inclined to take the outdoor exercise so essential at this time of year.
Having the wherewithal to make use of the occasional sunny days is one thing, but having the strength of mind to exercise for at least a quarter of an hour a day, outside, is quite another. If you feel strong and confident you are much more likely to take up the challenge – really!
We all know how bad habits develop. As we snuggle into the sofa, we lie awkwardly, scrunch ourselves at our desks and generally have fewer opportunities to stretch our bodies. It’s a case of work, home, tv, bed in the main, or in other words, contemporary hibernation.
Yet it doesn’t have to be. The whole premise behind Pilates is to tone and strengthen. We would all like to see better muscle definition longer, leaner limbs and an athletic frame. Pilates exercise is a manageable way to cast ‘winter, flabby bodies’ aside. Flavours’ Pilates teachers wax lyrical about its efficacy.
Eating a healthy diet can also make you feel so much better during the short, dark days. Making a conscious effort to consume more fruit and vegetables is good advice. Utilise the cheery fruits in the shops brought in from sunnier climes: citrus, pomegranates and lychees are a colourful start. Walnuts are another super food at their best right now. Winter stews filled with lentils, pearl barley and gorgeous seasonal vegetables will boost your immune system while nourishing you too.
Visitors to the Pilates courses in Puglia will still have wonderful memories of exercising outdoors and gazing into the heat haze, although outdoor exercise is less desirable on a day filled with squally showers.
Yet there is no reason not to explore the benefits of Pilates. It is certainly less extreme than yoga and you will find a distinct improvement in your flexibility without feeling forced in any way.
Being a little more sedentary between November and February can also affect weight; without movement we can drop to burning only 1300 calories a day and when you think how much we tend to eat, on average, you can see where the body is going to store the surplus. Hmnn.
If you can’t keep an eye on diet then look at posture instead. A stronger core will lead to better balance and improved alignment; therefore your figure will immediately look more graceful. Yes, you do look thinner too, but easy on the hot chocolate with marshmallows, all the same!
If muscles are able to move more freely and if shoulders and back fall into line the whole body looks so much leaner; a little attention to the abdominal muscles will mean you look and feel great. Remember the little black party dress season is dangerously close!
So, Flavours top tips for winter health would be:
- Keep stress minimised wherever possible
- Rest properly and combine relaxation with some form of exercise every day.
- Cut back on alcohol
- Try to have a good night’s sleep every night
- Work on your posture
- Drink more water than usual, being in centrally heated homes and offices can really dehydrate us without us realising.
- Eat healthily: cut out excess sugary foods which includes cakes and biscuits but also processed and sugary processed juices too. Explore some of the winter recipes on the site
- Book a Pilates holiday!