Birds are flying south. Bears are snuggling up in their burrows and hibernating the season away.
Winter is coming.
The dark, cold days make you want to follow suit. Unfortunately, sleeping away the winter and escaping to warmer climates isn’t a viable option for everyone.
For the rest of us, we are stuck dealing with winter and cold, short, dark days. Couple that with a deluge of holiday feasts and treats and you have yourself a problem. Don’t let the winter blues derail the health and fitness efforts you have worked so hard to perfect over the warmer months.
1. Join an exercise group.
Search around your town for a running group. Many running shops offer free group runs during the week. Knowing other folks are out fighting the cold can help you summon the motivation to get outside too. If running isn’t your thing, find a friend and make commitments to workout together. Sign up for the same class at the gym or kick it on the elliptical together.
2. Take it inside.
What do spinning, yoga, swimming, weight training, running, cardio, kickboxing, pilates, and rocking climbing all have in common? They can be done inside. Take the winter months as an opportunity to try a new sport or activity that might not be on your regular list. You might just discover your new favorite way to get in shape!
3. Make a plan and have a backup.
Let’s face it. Life happens and conflicts can get in the way of a fitness regime. A good way to keep on track is to make a plan, but also have a backup. Did the temperatures dip a little too low to take it outside? Hit the treadmill instead or opt for a session of yoga. Take time to research other options for working out so you know what is available if your original plan falls short. Additionally, early morning workouts are less likely to be compromised due to unscheduled conflicts. Here are some tips for making the best of a morning run.
4. Get the right gear.
Getting outside in the winter means being smart about your gear. Gloves and a hat are essential. Opt for fabrics that are moisture wicking to keep you dry (which also means warmer). Experiment with different options to find the right balance of keeping warm but not overheating. Most importantly, be seen! Wear reflective gear and a headlamp to keep yourself visible to others.
5. Refocus on nutrition.
Take the winter months as a chance to refocus on the nutrition side of your regime. For times when your workouts are more intense and regular, it is easy to slip into the habit of thinking, “I EARNED THIS!” when it comes to food. Not so fast. Both exercise and healthy eating are key to maintaining a healthful lifestyle. Focus on eating lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains, and lean proteins. And with protein, make sure you are distributing evenly throughout the day. Hydrate. Focus on getting more fiber to keep you full in between workouts. Make healthy meal choices to maximize the workouts you do get in and to minimize stress when you just can’t hit the pavement or gym that day.