How to Shed Those Poutine Week Pounds

Don’t Let The Snow Deter You From Your Resolution

It’s not anything new—Montreal is cold in the winter. It gets dark by 4:30 p.m. and leaving the house is often an impossible task unless it’s for food or much-needed companionship.

Comfort food helps twice as much, and with La Poutine Week having just passed, working out and achieving personal health can seem like a faraway dream. So how does one stay in shape in the midst of this bleak, long season?

Last week I ate seven enormous poutines in three days while covering La Poutine Week for an opinions piece for The Link—suffice it to say the guilt has since set in and I have been looking for ways to work off the gravy weight and feel better about my health in general.

The first place I looked was the Concordia student gyms, which are located at both the Loyola and Sir George Williams campuses. For students, rates are $60 per semester—definitely within my budget. Other private gyms in Montreal range from $100 per 15 months to $360 per year. But would I consistently be able to drag myself downtown, or even out of bed? There had to be a way to get in shape completely on my own terms, and more importantly, for free.

I started making small efforts to move around more. This meant walking uphill when I could have gone down, choosing to walk to school on warmer days, putting loud dance music on and jumping around for my whole neighbourhood to see, plus: I walked all the way up Mount Royal. Still, the cold weather put a damper on my exercise routine. I couldn’t stick to it.

“It’s definitely less appealing to get out of the house when it’s cold, windy or snowing,” said Concordia political science student Heloise Martorell, “but I do try to make as much of an effort as possible to go outside, even if it’s just to go to my friends’ houses.” It is true that human contact is a motivation to get some fresh air and get moving in the winter – but it may not be enough.

Fitness trainer at H20 MMA Kickboxing Gym Pierre Lescot does not think the cold is an excuse not to exercise. “I work out five times a week,” said Lescot. “The best way to stay in shape in the winter is to do basic home workouts like sit-ups, push-ups and squats. Eating well is the most important. For cardio, circuit training is best option.”

Circuit training videos, as well as yoga, aerobics and almost any workout method, are available in abundance on YouTube. It can be hard to accustom yourself to exercising through changes in outdoor weather, whether it’s cold or hot, according to a WebMD feature reviewed by Charlotte E. Grayson, MD. Despite the many ways to exercise indoors, many people prefer outdoor exercise. If you are one of these people, there are ways to motivate yourself to go outside and move.

WebMD’s first suggestion is to warm up indoors. Doing a 10 to 15 minute cardio workout inside means you will already be warm and pumped up by the time you go out – providing you are dressed properly. Wear tight clothing and layer up. This will increase your chance of completing the workout, which is the hardest part for me.

The best way to stick to a single workout and exercise plan is to find someone to join and motivate you. Social support helps to keep people active. Committing to a workout plan with a friend means not only your health is affected, but theirs as well.

We all know it’s important to exercise, and though the suggested three-times-a-week-minimum can seem unreachable in this cold season, the most effective way to get that much-needed movement is to fit it into your schedule. Choosing to walk further and faster, or doing YouTube yoga tutorials a few times a week will make you feel better, mentally and physically. Plus you can skip the guilt about that little extra comfort food.