When the weather changes, so too can our intentions. Our goals hide under layers of priorities just as our bodies hide under layers of clothing. Holidays replace two-a-days and our hooded sweat shirts aren’t really that sweaty.

It can be incredibly easy to eschew your drive during the winter months. It is as though our motivation is measured in Fahrenheit or Celsius, dropping a little further with the passing of time. Holiday parties, big sporting events, and the ringing of a new year all fill the space of our planner, pushing our fitness pursuits further down the priority list. These times make for great memories, but often lead to the loss of progress towards our health and wellness goals.

Therefore, it is important to go into this coming winter with a plan of attack to ensure that you come out the other side intact. Read on below to see your to-do list for this coming winter; fifteen tactics to help you make the best fitness, nutrition, and health decisions ever!

1. Setting clear, defined goals is critical to your success, so be sure to sit down and take the time to envision yourself at the other side of the season. If you map a plan to gain muscle, master a new skill, or start/continue a weight loss journey, then you’ll be significantly more likely to achieve it when it is written down in front of you.

2. Looking at your calendar and establishing the difference between optional holiday events and mandatory ones is important to maintaining normalized eating and training schedules. A “take-each-day-as-it-comes” attitude is great for the soul, but bad for the waistline. Establish boundaries before the events even occur.

3. Hire a trainer or join a new class/group workout. During the winter months business typically ramps at a gym since people are spending more time indoors. Capitalize on this time to invest in yourself and make a commitment that you can’t step away from.

4. Establish habits that occur every single day. Whether you take a one-mile jog before you start your day, eat the same healthy breakfast, or pencil in your workouts on your schedule at the same time every day, it is important for you to establish consistency.

5. Grocery shop and cook meals on a day that does not provide much outside stress. This way you can take the time to choose healthy produce over packaged goods, and prepare many ingredients in advance to avoid the late-night laziness that can show up after a long day at work.

6. Schedule workouts prior to big events, such as holiday parties or other festivities where nutrition may not be a concern. There is nothing wrong with enjoying yourself and a few treats during holiday events; in fact, most studies conclude that the psychological benefit of the occasional release is greater than the physical benefit of abstaining. Just be sure to counter balance these events with a tough workout and sound nutrition the rest of the day.

7. Involve your friends and family. Everything in life is a little bit better when you aren’t going at it alone. While it may be hard at first to get everyone on the same page, the reward of sharing success with those that you care about will be much greater than in solitude.

8. Look to learn something new at your gym. Don’t just keep showing up and doing the same routine you’ve always done. Now is the perfect time to learn a new lift, refine your technique, or finally jump into the class you’ve walked by every time before.

9. Don’t be afraid of the colder weather. Activities such as skiing, sledding, and ice skating all provide tremendous benefits to the body’s muscles and metabolism while also giving hours of enjoyment. Just because it is cold outside does not mean that there is nothing you can do out there.

10. Don’t let the abundance of pastries in the bakery distract you from the myriad of good produce nearby. When you shop during the holiday months it is as though cookies, donuts, cakes, and every other delicacy is out on display. Childhood memories and anxious taste buds combine to influence our decisions. Be sure to spend more time shopping for healthy fruit and vegetables to fill your plate.

11. Shorter day/night cycles do impact the body. That tired feeling you get late at night isn’t just you fighting off the wear and tear of a long day. The lack of sunlight is winding your body down to prepare you for more sleep, almost as though you would hibernate. Capitalize on this by getting to bed a little earlier and working out in the morning before getting going with your day.

12. Don’t skip the hot coffee or tea. Just don’t load it with sugar and creamer to the point where it becomes a dessert! The benefits of your cup of coffee extend well beyond being able to deal with your coworkers in the morning. A boost in the metabolism, healthy antioxidants, and the satisfaction of a warm beverage on a cold day can impact your entire day.

13. Train heavy, run hard, and sometimes slow down and recover. A simple blueprint for your fitness priority list if there were one. Now, not everyone needs to lift big weights, or needs to run sprints; however, everyone benefits maximally when they spend more time training with weights and pushing their body’s cardiovascular limits. Then, longer bouts of cardio can aid in recovery and metabolic progress.

14. Look into bodyweight workouts for those days where the gym just can’t happen. Whether a few feet of snow block your way, or the in-laws need entertaining – you need a backup plan. Bodyweight exercises such as pushups, planks, and even single leg squats can be great when done with maximal focus and intensity.

15. Remember that you have to live with the body you are in once the spring season does come back around. This isn’t meant as a scare tactic, rather it is important to understand that you can’t treat your body like a light switch and turn the effort on/off whenever you want. Consistent application of effort always leads to the greatest progress.

This winter, like any winter, will bring cold days, long nights, and the occasional deluge of snow. You have shovels in your garage just in case you need them, so be sure to have a plan in place for everything in regards to your body. Make this winter the best winter yet.

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