Don't let winter weather derail your fitness plans

4:58 PM, Jan. 17, 2013  |  Comments
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The cold, snowy days of winter can make it a challenge to keep active and eat healthfully. Susan Nitzke, nutrition specialist with the University of Wisconsin-Extension and professor emerita of nutritional sciences at the UW-Madison, offers these tips to help you stay fit when it's hard to get outdoors.

Eating well.

Comfort foods, treats and sugary beverages often have more calories than they are worth, nutritionally speaking. Consider your options and plan to make healthy changes that work for you. For example:

? Instead of cookies or candy, have a piece of fruit when you're hungry for something sweet. A cup of blueberries or grapes has less than 100 calories and satisfies that desire for sweetness.

? Keep cherry tomatoes, pepper strips, snap peas, or carrots handy in your refrigerator for a quick and nutritious snack, perhaps with some hummus or yogurt dip.

? When a high-calorie food is the only thing that will do, keep the portion size small. Eat that cookie in small bites and relish the flavor so that you don't mindlessly eat more than you really want.

? Think about nutrition in the beverages you consume, as well as food. When you're thirsty, nothing's better than water. Or drink some tea or coffee with a minimum of sugar or cream. Pure, 100-percent fruit juice and low-fat or nonfat milk are much better for your body than sugary sodas.

? Use the Nutrition Facts Label and the Ingredients list on food labels to choose nutritious low-fat and low-sugar foods and beverages at the grocery store.

? Don't abandon your good intentions when eating out. Pick a restaurant that has healthy choices and reasonably sized portions.

Being active:

? When it's too cold or icy to take a walk outside, check your community's schools, parks and senior centers for indoor programs such as yoga or group exercise classes.

? If there's an indoor pool in your community, find out when it's available for community members.

? Do you like to dance? Dancing is a great way to enjoy vigorous movement without even noticing how hard you're working.

? When you watch TV, walk or jog in place during the commercial breaks.

? Plan social activities that involve exercise. Invite friends to walk with you at the mall or join a local group, such as the YMCA.

? Ask your local library to help you find an exercise video that's appropriate for children. Then make it a game to try out the movements with your children or grandchildren.

Overall, if you eat 100 more food calories a day than your body needs, you can easily gain a pound in a month. For most people, watching what they eat and being physically active are both necessary to stay fit and healthy. It may not sound as exciting or trendy as the latest fad diet or fitness gadget, but eating well and being active is the combination that works best in the long run.

For more information, check out the Dietary Guidelines for Americans advice for consumers at and track your progress with the free "SuperTracker" and other personalized tools for nutrition and physical activity at

For nutrition information, contact Amanda Miller, Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program (WNEP) Coordinator/Family Living Educator, UW-Extension Fond du Lac County, 400 University Drive, Fond du Lac, or call her at 920-929-3174.

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