Keep your winter motivation healthy and well over winter. 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 summer.
Here are 5 tips how to stay in shape when the temperature drops and the days just keep getting shorter.
1. Have the right kit
There is no such thing as bad weather, there are just bad clothing choices. If you are heading outdoors then you should invest in some good quality winter activewear. I mean thermal leggings, gloves, headbands – the lot! It makes outdoor training much more comfortable and reduces the risk of catching a chill. And it's not just if you're training outside, even if you're just in the gym, investing in some new workout gear can really help with your motivation. You'll always find buying some new, bright kit gets you motivated, It's hard not to take a new pair of trainers for a spin, or show off your new kit in the gym.
2. Make a plan you have to stick to
Just as with most things, setting out a plan to your goals is a great way to stay motivated, whether it's to feel better about yourself, change your body or even just de-stress. Once those goals are set, create a plan to get there even if it's just adding the workouts into your calendar – it'll give those sessions more importance. Schedule in your workouts, write them in your diary and think of them as a important appointment you can't miss.
3. Stay inside
Cold weather outside does not mean you can't exercise, even if you don't have a gym membership. You can easily workout in your very own home with just your own bodyweight. Free workouts can be found on Youtube that need no equipment. Plus, remember that no journey to a gym means extra time in bed.
4. Book a class or join a club
It is arguably the best time ever to be a fitness fanatic in Melbourne right now with so many fun and interesting classes at our disposal. Not only will heading to a barre or hot yoga class seem much more appealing than running along a cold road, but "cancellation fees are great motivation to get you there on time!"
However, if you are a runner at heart and don't fancy classes, try joining a club instead to help motivate you. I would honestly recommend joining a running group and let something other than the running motivate you, making new friends, meeting old ones or setting group goals – it really helps to keep you motivated.
5. Buddy up
Just as with joining a club, agreeing to exercise with a friend gives you an incentive (other than exercise) to do something active. Motivating yourself through these dark months can be tough, so think about buddying up with a friend, it will help change your perspective of working out to something a little more enjoyable and sociable. It's also much more difficult to cancel on a friend than to just decide not to go yourself.
For my wife and I, we ride with a local cycling group every Tuesday morning. We know there will be always be a group waiting for us, some familiar faces to greet us, a couple of laughs on the bike ride and hot coffee at the end - that's our motivator to get out of bed at 5am when it's 1 degree!
6. Remind yourself why it's important
In those moments when you have to climb out of a warm, cosy bed and head into the cold, it can be difficult to remember how great you will feel afterwards. Exercising on those dark cold days will actually help boost your body's 'feel good' endorphins to help blast away those winter blues. Exercising has been found to boost your body's serotonin, norepinephrine and stress response to help induce a natural state of calm leading into the hectic festive period. That's motivation enough. But most importantly, be kind to yourself and your body.
It's much harder to stay motivated when you don't take enough time to relax and recover, leaving you feeling tired and sluggish, so it's important to make sure you're getting enough sleep.
When you get back from a fitness session, treat yourself to a cup of coffee, hot chocolate and a hot breakfast. Have and a long hot bath with some salts to soothe tired and aching muscles. Think about how great getting out moving has been and make plans for the next session.