Each year seasons toy with our emotions like a vicious cycle. Mother nature just laughing at us from behind her clouds. December hits, the days get darker, the temperature drops, and before we know it we are stuck in this sort of winter doldrums. And of course with the colder the months get, the further into this slum we seem to fall. For some the seasons have a greater affect than for others but on some level it changes the way each and every one of us lives our daily lives.
Have you ever woken up so cold you were just dreading getting out from under the covers? Has there ever been so much snow on the ground outside your door that you convinced yourself shoveling in order to make it to the gym was too much work or far too risky? Or maybe you use snowy days as an excuse to catch up on your favorite tv shows so you barely leave the couch… andddd make your way through your entire snack cabinet while you’re sitting there?
Don’t worry you aren’t the only one. Trust me.
We have all been there, done that, lived that life. We all STILL do it from time to time I’m sure.
I understand that battling the elements doesn’t seem ideal in the moment and sometimes it really just is not an option. However, it’s important to remember that these little rascally winter days should not be the cause of us losing control of our health and fitness! Excuses are excuses no matter how you dress them.
“No matter how you feel… Get up. Dress up. Show up. And NEVER GIVE UP.”
The hardest thing about these “doldrums” is that it is the kind of place you can get stuck in and find yourself having to figure out a way to climb back out. It is like having a job and putting off paperwork for a day, then a week, and then next thing you know you are so deep in work it seems impossible to tackle and you have no idea how to even make a dent in it all. Losing a good habit is unfortunately much easier than establishing it. So the biggest thing to remember during these tough winter months is just to KEEP GOING. Keep moving. No matter what that means and no matter how small your feats are. Make sure you remain conscious of your goals and continue working towards them in any way possible every single day.
So okay I know, I get it, that’s easier said than done right? Let’s brainstorm some ways to make your goals seem a little more possible through the treacherous uphill battle that is winter…
Treat yourself! No I do not mean with snacks or alcohol, or anything you know you should not engage in. Set up little “to do list” type goals for each day or each week and when you accomplish them give yourself a little harmless indulgence; some time on your favorite gossip website, a Netflix night (sans popcorn, chocolate, nachos, or soda), or maybe just an extra hour of sleep over the weekend. Recognize that certain things are a little harder for you to accomplish during these months and congratulate yourself when you can conquer them anyways. It is more than fine to admit that you struggle more during these months. In fact I encouraged you to admit it. Once you do and you then accept that fact, THAT is when you can be honest with yourself and begin to make a real effort to change it and stop making excuses.
Do NOT oversleep. You are not a bear. You do not need to hibernate through the winter. Like enough. Stop this bologna. I understand the cold makes it much less ideal to get out of bed, especially when getting out of bed means 5am and it is still dark out. When we oversleep our body never breaks out of that sleep cycle. You somehow wake up more tired than you were before you went to bed. It’s because your body gets stuck in this resting stage and we end up with this 24/7 groggy feeling. That is worst of all vicious cycles because you rationalize not working out due to being overly tired, sleep more, feel more tired, rationalize again, sleep more, still feel tired. BUT how do you feel when you workout? Do you leave the gym or end your workout and suddenly feel alive. You have this burst of energy. Yet you also sleep like a baby that night and I will you even wake up feeling like a million bucks (other than any possible soreness heehee). Weeeeirdddd. So how about we give this working out over sleeping the day away thing a try? Perfect.
Give the home workout thing a try. Some people only workout at home. If you are one of those people… OH MY GOD. You have no excuse. I am done with you… No but seriously. You can remain in the comfort (and warmth) of your own home and still keep working towards those fitness goals. What could be better? It is beyond easy to get in even just a quick 15 minute sweat sesh at home with less than nothing. Take some of your favorite movements or workouts and challenge yourself by timing them or setting a rep goal. To motivate yourself and avoid making excuses, pick a set time for your workout. The problem with at home workouts is that it is easy to put them off until somehow you run out of time in your day. When I know I am going to a CrossFit class I cannot put it off. They have set times, I sign up, and so I go. Make the same commitments at your home.
Now, the biggest battle of all. FOOD. Winter somehow means we can get to eat sweets and carbs and fats? I’m not quite sure where this absurdity came from but it needs to end. This is a LIE. Again, you are not some furry animal… Well I hope not. I kid, I kid… You do not need to establish extra layers to make it through the winter. These “extra layers” should come in the form of clothing. Not fat. Don’t let these psychological down-in-the-dumps, snowed in, bored, tired cravings take you from salads and proteins to bread and bread and bread and chocolate and bread. We tend to want comfort foods in the winter but now we are past those dreaded indulgence holidays and even past that initial resolution stage. We are now fully into the committing to becoming a better self phase. This is the time that you can show and prove to yourself that you are serious about these health and fitness goals. Turn those resolutions into real life. So put down the pastries and heavy “warming” dishes and pick up those grilled chicken avocado salads you know that you should really be eating. You don’t need a 75 degree sunny day on a picnic or beach trip to pick up some pineapple, salad, or cucumber.
Ultimately, you are in control of whether you let the winter blues completely take you over or not. Yes, getting two feet of snow kind of inhibits a lot of things and puts a serious damper on your daily functioning. So go out and shovel that snow. Time yourself and tell me you don’t break a sweat. Then come back inside and have yourself some baked some chicken. You can heat up the house with the oven cranking and still eat something a little better than those cookies you would’ve baked instead. The affect the seasons have on our psychological and emotional state takes a toll on our entire being. But it is never a death sentence and the sooner you get it under control the better it is for you, your body, and your health and fitness in the long run. Good luck my little snowmen!