Struggling to maintain the exercise routine you managed to perfect in the summer months? You're not alone. Getting yourself into the gym or heading out for a run on cold dark mornings and evenings takes a lot more motivation than it might do in January. Almost the entire population feels an emotional and physical shift in winter with many experiencing Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It's true that temperature and light have direct impact on our body rhythms in the winter extremes. But there are simple things you can do to encourage yourself to leave the comfort of your warm bed.
Staying motivated means focusing on the benefits. It might be cold, but there are plenty of benefits from getting out; like fresh air and Vitamin D, which helps to absorb calcium, maintain bone strength, and strengthen the immune system.
Exercise can help with those winter blues. Just 10 minutes is needed for the body to start releasing serotonin and dopamine, the feel-good chemicals. Staying active will of course help with the physical factors such as arthritis which is worsened over winter, and of course maintaining or losing weight. While it may be cold now, summer - and its accompanying wardrobe - will be here eventually. Maintaining a healthy exercise regime over winter means there won't be that pressure to get back into shape come spring.
How to help stay motivated:
Set SMART Goals!
This is an obvious one, as we focus on this so heavily at Vision: your 'Why', "How' and 'What'. Sometimes we may have to adjust this over winter or pick something a little more specific like an event, whether social or physical.
Train for an Event
Training for an event is a great motivator, as it gives you something to strive for. You could train for a marathon, an obstacle course like 'Spartan Race' or go for something social like a wedding, birthday or a dress you'd like to fit into.
As great as big targets are, ensure you give yourself little targets and rewards for a job well done (other than food) like tracking your food every day for a week or not eating any refined sugar. Give yourself something to look forward to like a massage or new clothes.
Use your Trainer
Your trainer is there to make sure you're not alone. They are a motivator to help you push yourself and keep you accountable. If you listen to your trainer, you are guaranteed to achieve your results of fitness or weight loss or ripped abs. A trainer can help get you there, but you have to be willing to implement their advice.
Bring a Buddy
This is a great time of year to bring a friend to a group class or start a new activity with some friends. A friend will also help to keep you accountable and make it more fun and therefore motivational for you. You could join a running club or try some activities such as dance, martial arts or rock climbing.
It can be really hard to get out of bed at this time of year when it is cold and dark. Give yourself that easier sleep by turning the electric blanket off when you go to sleep and then time the thermostat for when you wake up. Your body needs to cool for you to get enough REM sleep at night. Rather than clinging to the comfort of your favourite housecoat while shuffling to the kitchen for a coffee, make a beeline to the shower. The water will wake you. Getting dressed right away also will help get you pass the urge to lounge lazily over your latte. Also try setting an alarm to a song that motivates you. Ensure you get up to the first alarm and stop the bad habit of setting 20 snooze alarms.
Try Something New
Winter is a fantastic time to change up your workout routine. Try one of the awesome classes you haven't before like X-Train, Strength or Boxing. There are always winter offers available too, help you reach your goals and feel more motivated.
Use the tools available to you. Track your workout as well as your eating. Check into the gym or post a picture from your workout using your phone. Mark your calendar with workout sessions and treat them as actual appointments. Create a countdown to summer. Listen to great tunes!
Flexibility & Simplicity
Don't be hard or militant on yourself. Make exercise fun and not a chore. Make a routine that is sustainable, fun and easy to start. Don't worry about doing one massive workout twice a week. Instead try to accumulate exercise over the day and week. Everyone has the time! Government recommendations are for 30 minutes minimum a day.
*Disclaimer: Individual results vary based on agreed goals. Click here for details.