Staying Motivated (and Fit!) In The Dark Winter Months

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By Henry Gould – Oct 29th, 2018

Following what can only be described as a torrential downpour in Vancouver last night, it seemed only appropriate to start talking about Winter and its effects on motivation and fitness.

Whether you’re a distance runner, yoga devotee or gym junkie, shorter days and colder weather mean it’s harder to get excited about exercise. Even something as simple as clothing; in summer you can waltz into the gym wearing only your workout clothes and not have to deal with anything else. In Fall and Winter, suddenly you’re wearing tons of layers, having to change in and out of everything in a steamy locker room… not fun.

Getting motivated for the actual workout is hard enough, why not make it easier on yourself when it’s cold and wet outside? Below are a small collection of things you can do to push back on the nagging voice in your head saying stay in bed and skip the gym, or how to hide from the co-worker who always brings in armfuls of Christmas cookies and Halloween candy.

Remember, the easiest way to lose “winter weight” is to not gain it in the first place. You can still enjoy all the cheese boards and holiday parties, so long as the other days of the week balance them out.

A) Invest in quality winter clothing that you like wearing

This might seem self evident, but it’s really quite important. Looking outside my window right now, it’s pouring rain. If I didn’t have a decent GoreTex jacket or umbrella, I would be waaaayyy less likely to want to get out there. If you take public transit as your primary mode of transport, this means lots of walking to and from places. If you have clothes that keep you warm and dry (and you like the look of them) you will be way more likely to wear them, and therefore more motivated to trudge through snow or slush. The new Yard Athletics hoodie might be just the thing you need…!

B) Use rewards to self motivate

The carrot at the end of the stick can be a huge way to get yourself off the couch, but shouldn’t be something that cancels out the exercise you just did. Maybe it’s a Car2Go home from the gym instead of the bus. Perhaps you promised yourself new runners at the end of the month, so long as you log 30km every week. Maybe it’s a glass wine to liven up your chicken breast and salad for dinner. If the rewards are sustainable and not ruining all your hard work, I say go for it. After all, if the reward means you got in a workout vs. no workout at all, I’d say that’s progress.

C) Get some friends, start a WhatsApp group

Having a group of friends who can hold everyone accountable is a massive motivator. WhatsApp seems to be a particularly good platform for group chats, but obviously any texting platform works. Find a group of friends – the bigger the better – make the group specific to exercise, and then use it to schedule times when people could join you on a workout. Even cheesy things like posting selfies while you’re together might help motivate others in the group, as they’ll surely get FOMO and want to join the next time.

D) Nutrition & Cooking for yourself

Focusing on your nutrition in winter is crucial, particularly because there are so many food distractions around the holidays. Plan meals for the week and cook for yourself. Use YouTube to find recipe tutorials and cook them for friends. Bon Appetit has some great instructional videos here. Focus the majority of your daily meals around protein and vegetables, reducing the amount of sugar and carbs you consume. This will have a massive impact on your health over the course of the winter.

Cooking for yourself is a huge part of maintaining a healthy lifestyle, in addition to saving money. If you can cook for a few days and package meals to take to school or work, you’ll be less tempted to buy something. If you have 2 holiday parties during the week, treat those events as “cheat” days, and spend the rest of the week eating as healthy as you can.

E) Moderate alcohol intake

The cliche of the holiday party drunk is, actually, a very real reality. Not only is it a bad look to have an arm draped around your bosses shoulder, drunkenly telling them your views on the company, but the excess calories can creep up on you very quickly.

If friends are in town you haven’t seen in a while, why not skip the beers and go for a Yard group class instead? If there’s holiday parties, alternate each alcohol drink with a club soda or water. Keep your home fridge stocked with La Croix instead of beers. If you are drinking, opt for dry red wine as they’re typically lower in sugar, as well as being more tannic, which makes you sip them slower.

F) Maximize the sunshine!

If and when the clouds do break and the sun pokes its head out, stop what you’re doing and get outside. You don’t know when you might get another chance!

Maybe you’re not a huge runner, but go for a jog just to make the most of it. Walk to work, or to the gym. It’s no secret Canadians are largely deficient in Vitamin D, likely due to lack of sunshine, so make the most of it and get outside if possible. You’ll feel much better for it.

 

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