A Fitness Guru’s Six Tips For Staying In Shape This Winter

Chris Freytag of Get Healthy U on discovering “why” you want to get healthy and how to reach your goals this winter

With Covid-19 cases on the rise, and flu season upon us, you want to be prepared for whatever comes your way: to help you out, we’re spotlighting some immunity-boosting fitness, nutrition and sleep hygiene tips, with our friends at Sleep Number. Read on for some routine-inspo…

Chris Freytag has been in the fitness industry for over 30 years: she first discovered the movement in the 1980s, just as it was beginning, and later covered health and fitness as a journalist. Nearly five years ago, she launched Get Health U, an online fitness company that helps women get in shape.

As gyms and fitness studios close access the country, Freytag, who is based in Minneapolis, has been hard at work during the pandemic, making virtual videos for her clients. In an interview with Wake-Up Call, she gave some easy-to-follow advice on how people can hunker down and really take care of themselves right now…

FINDING YOUR ‘WHY’:

You really have to know your “why” in order to get healthy. I think for a lot of people, they wait until they have a health scare to start implementing healthy practices. But you have to find out “why”: Why are you unhappy with your body? What’s going on with your health? If it’s all about vanity, it just doesn’t last, because the results might not come fast enough: people feel like they’re never perfect.

Especially women in my age group — they never feel perfect enough. When I talk to people who are consistent with exercise, they are not exercising because they want to look good. They’re exercising for other reasons.

TIME YOUR WORKOUT:

I love morning exercise. It sets you up for the day, and gets you ready to think. Even during a pandemic, we all work on our computers now and it’s so easy to get caught up in the day. All of a sudden you’re on your first Zoom call or you’re getting to your emails. Next thing you know, the whole day has gone away. Also at nighttime, I’m too tired; I don’t want to work out. I used to work out at 5:30 a.m., but now I work out anytime between 5:30 and 8:30 a.m. I like to do a virtual workout with one of my trainers.

And for anyone who’s having trouble finding time to work out, you have to make a schedule. Before the pandemic, you probably scheduled when you’d go to the gym, or to a workout class. Now, you can still plan out your week or your month. And journal to keep track of whether you’re staying in line with your goals.

FIND YOUR HAPPY PLACE:

This summer, I did some outdoor workouts with neighbors and friends right here in my own backyard. Right now, especially, it’s so important to work out where you’re happiest and it really depends on your lifestyle. Some people have sleeping kids, so they need to go down into the basement.

Others like to be near windows. Some people like to stream workouts on the computer, or on their big screen T.V. Work out where you want to work out. Don’t force yourself to go to the cold, dingy basement. If you hate it, go to your family room.

ON IMMUNITY-BOOSTING NUTRITION:

Food, first! You can’t out-train a bad diet. Experts say people need to do their parts during this pandemic by wearing masks, and that’s great messaging, but where is the messaging to eat more healthy food to fuel your body?

I always go back to what Michael Pollan said, which is to “eat real food, mostly plants, not too much.” If you follow that creed, you don’t need a crazy diet, and you’re going to end up with a better mix of micronutrients, vitamins, and minerals — which is going to help boost your immunity.

Also, avoid any kind of fake stuff. On the weekend, you might have a bag of chips, or a burger and fries. That’s fine! No one got sick from one burger and fries, but it’s all about consistency. Eat fruits and vegetables every single day. Stay away from artificial sweeteners, flavors, colors, because those muck up your system and they bring you down. They lower your immunity and make you tired.

ON HEALTHY COMFORT FOOD:

Here’s a great snack: So I love dipping raw carrots, peppers, celery, broccoli and other veggies in guacamole and hummus. They’re both super healthy and easy to make.

Now that it’s winter, I love roasting vegetables. So I’ll cut them on a Sunday, roast them in the oven, and add them to grain bowls through the week, with a dollop of guacamole or other toppings. Also, homemade soup can be so healthy! Grocery store soups have so much sodium. But when you make your own, it’s healthy and a perfect meal for the cold weather.

ON RECHARGING:

I drink decaffeinated tea with turmeric before bed. I also try to stop looking at my phone. If I have it in bed, I’ll scroll for another half hour. What I love about my Sleep Number bed is that I can adjust it if I want to watch a movie before I go to sleep, or do something else similar. And my back doesn’t bother me anymore!

When I was younger, I didn’t sleep and considered it a badge of honor. I would say, “Sleep is overrated.” When I started getting older, I noticed that lack of sleep affected my memory and cognitive thinking. I also noticed that my workouts were suffering. When I’d get up in the morning, I’d noticed that my heart rate didn’t go up as high and I felt very sluggish. If you’re super tired, you also tend to eat more. Sleep also helps you maintain your weight, especially for us women, as we’re getting older, mostly because it’s so important to help you function!