The temperature has dipped into single digits. The forecast is frightful and that roaring fireplace really looks inviting. Your six-pack? Buried under a heavy sweater and a parka.
It’s scary-easy to allow your fitness goals to slip in the winter months.
It’s also a big mistake given that this is the season of carb cravings, diminished sunlight (the feel-good hormone), and it’s also cold and flu season. For those who like to hibernate, studies show this can lead to consuming an extra 800 calories a day. The good news is that all that snow and frost can actually jump-start your workout resolve.
Here are a few ways to avoid that winter workout rut:
1) FOCUS ON YOUR GOALS: Depending on where your GPS points, winter can last between three and five months. This is the perfect time to set realistic and life changing weight loss and fitness goals — and achieve them.
Pinpoint your training goals in a specific way. How many days will you train?
List the activities, reps, time periods per day. Decide with your doctor how much weight you want or need to shed. Use the less social winter months to really focus on these specific goals and celebrate your progress. Remember to write your goals down and track them either electronically or on paper as you see the scale head south and sinewy muscle start to appear. Don’t be one of those people who laments that it’s April and you can’t possibly try on a swimsuit or wear one on spring break. Those who started training back in December can’t wait to hit the beach.
2) RENEW YOUR MOTIVATION: Why not just curl up on the couch during the deep freeze? Answer: You’re motivated to make your body as healthy as possible. Not only will working out help you avoid winter woes like colds and the flu, but you’ll be lowering your blood pressure, forming healthy lean muscle mass and shedding pounds that lead to health risks including heart disease and diabetes. In other words, your winter workout is your direct ticket to feeling healthy, strong and energetic all year long. Remind yourself that missed workouts leave you vulnerable to health risks.
3) FEEL ENERGIZED AND BEAT THE WINTER BLUES: Even on the chilliest of days, swing your feet out of the bed and get to the gym early. Studies show that you will be far more energized the entire day by moving your body upon waking and you’ll eat less. This applies any time of the year, but works especially well in the draining winter months when any energy boost is a welcome one. An added benefit for joggers and walkers is that getting outside in the daylight first thing in the morning also allows for a natural vitamin D booster shot while getting a workout in. Win-win.
In addition, hiding indoors and not moving can lead to a case of the blahs or even true depression. Any physical activity also boosts your serotonin levels, so get to that aerobics class or start lifting to get out of your winter funk. Your good mood after a workout isn’t your imagination, but a scientific and hormonal fact.
4) EXPLORE COLD WEATHER WAYS TO MOVE.
You might not be able to do outdoor laps in a pool unless you want to freeze, but the cold weather months offer other ways to really get your heart rate up. Downhill skiing, cross-country skiing, ice-skating and sledding can be excellent cardio and family events and a way to break up all those treadmill or elliptical sessions. Jogging in the snow with proper gear is a solid way to burn extra calories because your metabolism is turbo boosted as your body fights to stay warm. Just make sure to bring yourself back indoors if you get too sweaty.
5) NEW YEAR, NEW YOU. Instead of those vague resolutions for a new year make your promises something specific when it comes to fitness. Sign up for CrossFit or Kettlebell or an indoor boot camp. Nothing warms chilled bones better than stepping into a hot yoga class. Vow to take action with your resolutions during the first week of January. Input those classes into your phone or grab a buddy and decide you’ll take them together. Your resolutions will go from murky to mighty.
That’s the way to start 2017 — winter or not.