How do you stay motivated (or re-motivate) when it gets cold outside and all you really want to do is put on your sweats as soon as you get home from work?
It can be a very easy pattern to fall into...that wake up a little later, run out the door, get through the day, return home and throw on the jam-bos (pajamas) kind of pattern.
Usually, we let things slide because we are procrastinating or feeling burned out. But before we start going down the winter rabbit hole, let’s pump the breaks a sec and ask ourselves what causes us to procrastinate or feel burned out?
I’ll go first to break the ice.
I get burned out when I ...
A) have tried to make too many changes at once,
B) have spread myself to thin OR
C) have set some pretty high expectations of myself that may not be completely realistic 100% of the time.
On the flip side, if I am procrastinating, usually I am spinning my wheels worrying and analyzing instead of just taking action. I used to believe I needed the whole game plan before I could get started. This way of thinking held me back for years, and in fact, it is the worst game plan of all. You don’t need the full agenda to start somewhere. In fact, when I start working with a nutrition client, I typically assign one or two smaller things to focus on just to get used to making health-related changes, but no more than that. Why? Because if I give them a laundry list of changes, they will still have to prioritize the list, and have some waiting in the queue...thus, feeling similar to procrastination which is unsettling and not encouraging to progress.
In either case, Once we start to let things slide, it’s much harder to get back on track. I’m sure we can all agree on this, even if it is not directly related to our health, fitness or nutrition status. It is much easier to keep a habit going and build upon it with momentum, versus the start-stop-switch directions approach.
To add to this, lack of Vitamin D we receive in the winter time leads to more fatigue and less energy to stay on track.
With that being said, it is crucial to know these things so that you can have a game plan before that cold-weather mentality starts to set in.
Here are some tips I recommend implementing into your anti winter rabbit hole strategy.
Get a good jacket and get outside in the middle of the day. We lose access to our primary Vitamin D source during this time of year (the sun!) because most of us arrive to work before the sun rises and leave after it sets. Therefore, we have to be cognizant of this and take a break during the day to make sure we get our Vitamin D fix. Think about it like this: less Vitamin D brings on fatigue. Fatigue prevents your brain from functioning at its optimal level. You want your brain to function at its best while at work so you can be productive and get out of there on-time, so this is for your job AND your health!
Be active and stay active. If you get outside in the middle of the day, this is an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Bust out your walking shoes and walk for 30 minutes or more. I realize that breaks aren’t always realistic when it comes to your work schedule, but that doesn’t mean your health and happiness should take a backseat. Keep your shoes at work and just do what you can.
In the same theme of working out, if you dislike working out (or that’s what you tell yourself), then stop attempting to do the same workouts you dread. Instead, try new types of exercises until you find one you enjoy. Make it social. It is possible! I promise. In fact, this is how I found yoga. :)
Be prepared. It’s hard to stay on track, and I realize that prepping your meals for the week is not a cake walk. But if you can be consistent with your planning and stay on track with your efforts, you will find it’s not as hard to keep the good energy going versus trying to rev things up again once you let things fall by the wayside for a few weeks. If you aren’t familiar with meal prep, start with one meal a few times a week, and build from there.
Switch it up. Swap out your workouts and add in some variety. If you do spin classes and nothing else, your body will get bored and so will your mind. I teach over 10 hours of yoga per week, so sometimes… my mind and body want something different. I have learned to love a variety, and I’ve actually noticed an improvement in my yoga practice since adding in other forms of working out. Bonus!
Please...just eat breakfast. But not any old breakfast. Eat a combination of complex carbs, protein and healthy fats! I know it’s tempting to sleep a little later when it gets colder, but when we skip breakfast, we are hitting snooze on our metabolism. It is SO worth it to make your breakfast the night before. Do the prep work in advance, and it will be easy to just grab it on the go as you walk out the door. A few breakfast recommendations include overnight oats and an egg sandwich wrapped in foil. Both can be placed in the fridge and taken to work the next day. I did this for an entire year and my entire office had breakfast envy so much that I often made them oats and/or sandwiches as well!
Stay hydrated. Our body is made up of mostly water (50-60%), so to say we need replenishing is an understatement. We get more dehydrated in the winter, so make sure you take little sips of H2O throughout the day. You can also supplement with some water-rich foods such as grapefruit, bell peppers, oranges, lettuce, soups, and smoothies if you are ok with drinking cold things when it’s cold outside.
Still indulge, but be selective. I never want anyone to feel deprived. I feel strongly that it’s important not to cut anything out completely from our diets that we enjoy unless it is for medical reasons, even if it has zero nutritional value. Deprivation often ends up backfiring and then we feel like we failed ourselves when we gave into the temptation. We must remind ourselves that we are never failing when we are making an honest effort towards a healthier lifestyle. Even if we don’t see the positive results on the scale, in our clothes, or in our performance. Progress isn’t always linear, or measurable...or visible for that matter. But it often comes with lots of trial and error!
Last but not least...REST! Yes, we want to fight off fatigue, but it doesn’t mean we ignore it either. We must remember that it is good to honor the signals your body sends. Therefore, if you feel tired, take a nap, a break, a day off from working out. Find a balance that works best for you.