When the weather gets cold, it can be easy for motivation to dwindle and allow your health and fitness to slide.
If you allow the extra pounds to start to accumulate all over your body, you will not be pleased with yourself come spring.
There are a countless number of challenges you face during this season. You are spending more time inside, staying warm rather than being active outside. There is also the added obstacle of multiple family gatherings for holidays and other occasions.
Theses situations stack the odds against you. Follow these tips through the holiday season and winter months to stay in shape until the weather changes:
Get as much sun as you can – The winter months mean less daylight as well as causing the desire to get inside to stay warm. The loss of vitamin D from a lack of daylight can contribute to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). According to the Mayo Clinic, seasonal affective disorder can lead to a lack of energy and depression. This can crush your desire to be active.
Although daylight hours can be very limited, you should try to get outside at least a little bit during the course of the day. Even going outside for a bit during your lunch break can do wonders for your mental and physical health.
Stay active – Even in cold weather, you can find creative ways to exercise. For starters, nothing is preventing you fro bundling up and getting outside. The initial cold may scare you from heading outside, but if you are working hard enough you can warm up quickly.
If you are a member of a gym or fitness center, then you can avoid the outside altogether. If you don’t have an indoor gym membership, home workouts are a great alternative.
Even if you don’t have great home gym equipment with cardio machines and free weights, you can get a lot done. Cardio or bodyweight exercises can be done in small spaces. You can also take your routine to the next level by adding kettlebells, dumbbells, or other equipment that isn’t very expensive and can be stored in small spaces.
Walk outside – This serves two purposes. For starters, just walking will get your heart moving and a calorie burn going. Also, being out in the cold can help you burn extra calories. This is because your body has to use energy to keep itself warm.
I wouldn’t recommend going outside in too light of clothing, obviously, as a cold or other illness wouldn’t do much to make you feel fitter. If you can get outside during the sunlight hours, even better, as that can help get you some vitamin D. A short walk during your lunch break could be a great part of your daily routine.
Plan your eating – This is one of the biggest problems of the holiday season. Family gatherings can lead to calorie overload. Plan what you are going to eat and challenge yourself to limit your intake somewhat. For instance, don’t turn Thanksgiving Day into a week or more of overeating on leftovers.
You’ll likely consume a lot of calories on Thanksgiving and Christmas. As much as possible, you need to limit yourself to just those days. Too many people go from Halloween candy to Valentine’s day without even realizing how much they’ve damaged their health and fitness. Don’t turn all the winter months into a way to develop a lifetime of poor eating habits.
Track everything – If you feel like you are following all of these tips, but still struggling to avoid winter weight gain, you should track everything. Without realizing it, you may be having a little more holiday candy than you think.
By tracking calories, either by hand or with one of the many calorie tracking apps, you’ll have a better idea of how much you are consuming in total. Over-analyzing your calories might not be the best thing for you long-term, but if you are gaining weight, you might want to try it for awhile to try and see where you are going wrong.
You will also want to track your exercise habits to hold yourself accountable. You might not have realized you are working out 1 fewer day per week or your average workout is 10 minutes shorter. Again, you don’t have to do this all the time, but it can help if you don’t know why you are putting on weight.
Another important thing is to set goals. This could be either a fitness goal or a weight based goal. For a fitness goal, you could signup for a 5k in the early spring. This will help to motivate you on your running workouts when the temperature drops. A weight goal could be to maintain or even drop a few pounds by the 1st of the year, rather than waiting to set a New Year’s resolution.
Staying in shape in normal situations can be extremely difficult. The challenges of the winter months don’t make it any easier. However, if you stay focused, you can get out of the cold unharmed.
Photo By: Jeremy Keith