Winter is rough. The days are dark, the temperatures brutal and most of our time is spent indoors. We spend our days warm and cozy inside, we eat comfort foods more frequently, and we tend to drive more and walk less. We long for the warmer months ahead.
It’s easy to dread the over packed gyms, opt for the sweats and fuzzy socks cuddled on the couch. But come Spring, you will regret all your hibernation time. And a side effect of all this time indoors is winter weight gain. These unwanted pounds creep on so easily if we do not keep fitness apart of our daily lives year-round. The added weight is not the only issue our bodies face with the darker days, the winter blues are very real and can have a negative impact on our mind and body. Having a fitness routine you’re proud of and committed to in every season can keep the unwanted pounds away and your mood boosted.
For years, fitness has been my stress reliever and mood booster. The gym is my “me time.” It’s an hour out of my day, I get to ignore my phone and zone out. If it’s not in the gym at that exact moment, then it doesn’t matter. And by the end of my workout, my head is clear, and I feel energized for life again. But as much as I love working out, I too have days where finding the motivation during the winter months is a struggle. This is the time of year when I have to add variety to my workouts and try new things to keep me going. I also have to get creative and find ways to incorporate more activity into my days, so I don’t feel guilty when a snowy weekend is spent binging season 2 of Cheer.
I always take the stairs, conference calls where no video or active participation is required, I take on the treadmill, I add jump rope to the end of my weightlifting sessions to get my heart rate pumping a little more, or I take a few extra steps by parking in the furthest spot. But I understand I am not the norm. Most people do not enjoy fitness and dread sweating. Many view fitness as a chore. It’s just another thing on their to-do list. And because they don’t like it or enjoy it, creating the time or finding the motivation for it doesn’t occur and it falls off their list completely. It’s always the first to go – admit it.
It doesn’t have to be though. Incorporating fitness into your life doesn’t have to feel like a chore. There are many options available year-round that can keep you focused and energized. The trick is finding what works best for you. It must make you feel good. And you must enjoy it. It must become a habit, a daily non-negotiable. When you do find fitness the results, both immediate and long-term, will speak for themselves. Your mind clearer, thoughts more focused and actions more intentional. Your body will feel better, skin has a youthful glow, and you’ll get a better nights’ rest. And as a bonus, you’ll look good too!
The gym isn’t for everyone. And thank goodness for that because I hate a crowded gym 😉. There are endless alternatives to finding fitness in the Winter that do not involve stepping foot into a gym. Even doing chores around the house can count as a fitness activity. Unless you give yourself too many coffee breaks, then it’s just the standard weekend cleaning.
Because I can fully relate to the outdoors being undesirable this time of year, I’ve put together a list of creative ways to help you find fitness and survive the winter blues.
- Hot Yoga! One of my favorites – it’s 90 minutes in over 100-degree temperatures. This practice will heat you to your core in a matter of minutes. Quite possibility the fastest way to forget the snow and transcend to the summer heat.
- Mall Walking – give window shopping a try. It’s a great way to get extra steps and create a wish list at the same time.
- Indoor Sports Leagues – move your favorite summer sports league indoors during the Winter. The social aspect of a sports league benefits the mind too.
- Group Fitness – If you like competition, this one is for you. Join a group fitness studio. Having others who are like-minded holds you accountable and motivates you to move from the couch to fitness. The options are endless from Barre, Bounce, Boxing, HIIT, Kickboxing, or Pilates.
- Learn a New Skill – always wanted to try salsa dancing or learn to waltz around a ballroom? Or maybe a self-defense class has been on your to-do list for quite some time? Try them now.
- YouTube Videos – the possibilities are endless. Choose your favorites or try a new one every day. The variety of available options eliminate boredom and puts you in control to choose the workout that best suits your mood, environment, and body part(s) you wish to focus on.
If you choose to not venture out into the cold and find fitness in your home, create a space designated just for you and your fitness routine. Make the space motivating and free from distractions. Also, create a playlist you love; make it full of songs that keep you going. Your fitness time is your “me time” and you must find ways to make it enjoyable.
When the outside temperatures drop, it becomes easy to abandon fitness and fall into bad habits that can cause negative impact to the mind and body. Finding fitness during the darker months is one of the best ways to avoid seasonal mood swings and food cravings. Most importantly, find a fitness routine you enjoy so you’ll stay consistent. Reframe your thoughts to view fitness as a reward for your mind and body. You are giving back for all the things it’s done and the places it’s carried you.