Getting yourself motivated and staying committed to your exercise regime that you may have had in summer is tough.
You may feel less inspired to move, especially now that the mornings and evenings are chilly. All of those common excuses start to creep in and the less you do, the less likely you are to do anything!
This can leave you lethargic, low energy and with a lowered immune system, hence being more susceptible to winter bugs. Exercise isn’t optional, it’s essential for your health and wellbeing, both physically and mentally.
Here are some excuse busters to nudge you, push you, or inspire you to stay motivated and keep moving through the colder months…
EXCUSE: "It's too hard to get out of bed on cold, dark mornings."
It's true that temperature and light have direct impact on our body rhythms in the winter extremes. But there are simple things you can do to encourage yourself to leave the comfort of your warm bed.
Create heat. Adjust the heater timer to warm your home or bedroom before the alarm goes off. If the temperature outside the doona is as enjoyable as inside, poof! the excuse is gone. Even better, put your workout clothes beside the heater so they are toasty warm and ready for you when you climb out of bed.
Tune your alarm. Rather than a normal, annoying alarm noise, use your phone to play specific songs that get you going. Nothing too loud (because cortisol) but something that lifts your mood and energy will do wonders for your ability to get out of bed on the first try.
Find a friend. Find someone who will commit to joining you in the morning for walks or workouts, and hold you accountable for showing up. Knowing someone is waiting for you to share the pain of the early darkness might be just the stimulus you need to throw back the covers and get out of the house.
EXCUSE: "I may be out of bed but I still don't want to go outside."
It's easy to fall into a vicious cycle of excuses that destroy momentum and kill motivation to be active. Use these ideas to boost your mood from the get go.
Put your head under water. Rather than clinging to the comfort of your favourite dressing gown while shuffling to the kitchen for a coffee, make a beeline to the shower. The water will wake you. Getting dressed right away also will help get you past the urge to lounge lazily over your latte.
Dress the part. The truth is there's no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing choices. Is it time to upgrade to proper winter performance gear? If you've balked at the cost of higher-priced winter training gear for an outdoor activity, just ask anyone who's used them: The price is easily offset by the increase in enjoyment, comfort and enthusiasm that helps counteract the cold.
Keep it simple, smarty (K.I.S.S.). The best way to overcome our excuses is to not create them in the first place. The more things that need to fall into place in order to get to the gym on time, the more likely we are to find a reason not to go. If you have to drive too far, you're creating extra hurdles that will attract excuses.
Keep it simple: go for a 25-minute run around the office block at lunch, do three laps of your neighbourhood first thing, or switch things up at the gym by using only the cardio machines you don't have to wait for. You'll finish a quality workout with less hassle and at a pace that feels rewarding.
Warm up indoors. Do some star jumps, leg lifts or pushups in your living room before heading out. Not only will it get your heart rate going and your blood circulating, it will make it very difficult to slide back into bed. Excuses be gone!
Tap into technology. Proclaiming your intention to workout each day on Facebook, Twitter, your blog or online community (e.g. Nike+) can strengthen your commitment, even if it is to avoid the embarrassment and guilt of not following through.
Excuse: "I can't find the same passion or fire to do it regularly."
What drives you in the summer is probably different from what motivates you in winter. When there's not a big race on the horizon, what fuels your daily ambition?
Use mini-goals for major rewards. Set small targets that lead to higher intensity, focus and discipline to stay on track each day. Perhaps the number of kilometres this week, the number of workouts over the next seven days, or steady improvements in strength gains. For maximum motivation, always write your goals down, making them specific and measurable, and track progress so you can reward yourself for the results.
Remember what works for you. If you find yourself suitably motivated in the summer, what specifically created that motivation: Targets? Goals? Friends? Coach? Competition? The great outdoors? How can you tap into the driving force and the feeling it creates in the summer and replicate something similar now?
Step out of the ordinary. Months of in-season intensity and pushing your limits will tire the best of us. Do you need a physical break from what you've always done to give your body time to recover and heal?
Take a yoga or pilates class. They are easy on the joints but provide great lasting benefits. Do you need a mental break from a tough season? Cross train with a different sport that doesn't require a stop watch or power meter. This will help ease your mind from information overload so you can stay active without stressing over stats.
Don't hesitate. Give one of these a try this week and share your ideas for what keeps you motivated in the comments below.