Between the cold, dark weather and poor eating and drinking habits that last longer than the holiday season, it can be difficult to find the motivation to work out during the winter months. It’s not uncommon for the weather to adversely affect one’s mood, too, which can create a vicious cycle until warmer weather comes into play. But by making fitness more accessible and preparing easy and nutritious meals, staying on track when the temps are low won’t be as hard as you think.
Understand How Lack Of Activity Affects Your Health
Having a solid understanding of how a one-to-four month hiatus can adversely affect your health may be a sobering reality, but it’s just what many people need to hear in order to stay motivated. Studies proved that even just four weeks of inactivity causes a decrease in the body’s ability to effectively take in and use oxygen, adverse effects to your blood flow and heart, higher blood pressure and blood glucose levels, muscle degeneration, strength loss, increased body weight and fat, and mood swings. This is not to say that these side effects can’t be reversed, but it will be more difficult to do so after taking substantial time off.
Eliminate Excuses With A Home Gym
Providing yourself with the opportunity to roll out of bed and exercise without driving to the gym or braving the elements can help minimize excuses or lack of motivation. They key to stocking a home gym is to ensure that it’s well-rounded in order to work a variety of muscles while regularly challenging yourself in the process. But there’s no need to break the bank. Start simple with a BOSU balance trainer, adjustable resistance bands, a yoga mat, and a few sets of dumbbells in various weights before gradually implementing more high-tech pieces such as a weight bench or TRX Suspension System.
Stay Motivated With A Variety Of Apps
Fitness apps today are what workout videos were in the ’80s — but with a lot more variety and for little or no cost. The best apps do everything from track your heart and activity rates to provide you with personal trainer-like workouts that you can do in the privacy of your own home. There are even apps to help you track your calories and keep stress levels in check.
Join An Organized Sport Or Group
When others are dependent on you, you’re less likely to bail on a sweat session. Whether it’s a running club or the swim team, many communities organize activities for its residents. The added bonus is that socializing while being active is a great way to beat the winter blues. If you’re more comfortable with the buddy system, look for genre-specific groups like new moms, first-time fitness, singles, etc.
Give Yourself A Boost With New Clothing
According to sports psychologists, wearing printed or flattering workout gear causes a positive mental shift called “enclothed cognition.” It’s no surprise that the better someone feels about themselves, the more apt they are to be motivated to work out. Even if big name brands are beyond your budget, there are more and more discount retailers embracing the same trends.
Stock Your Kitchen With Nutritious Foods
When you eat better, you feel better — even if you’re not trying to lose weight. Stock your kitchen with nutritious foods so that it’s easy to prepare a healthy meal no matter how much time you have on your hands. It’s not uncommon to have a larger appetite in the colder months, and research shows that it’s the amount of food — not calories — that creates a feeling a fullness. Just make sure each meal is chock-full of high-fiber ingredients like vegetables to avoid calorie overload from unhealthy, high-fat foods. Eating properly will also help you achieve your fitness goals and keep your immune system boosted during cold and flu season.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
Remember that taking a few days — even a week — off is not a setback. Sometimes it’s necessary to recharge your batteries and and reevaluate your goals. Mental health is as important as physical health, so keep things in perspective in order to feel balanced. But when you’re ready, get back in the game and find the right activities to keep you motivated enough until the warm weather returns.