Winter has well and truly settled in and getting motivated to eat well and exercise can be hard. It’s darker, it’s colder. Spring — never mind summer! — seems very far away indeed. It's much more tempting to eat warm comfort food and skip your morning walks. We can always start a new regime when spring rolls round, right? Wrong.
Although baggy sweaters and cold weather can sap all motivation, staying healthy over the cooler months will keep you on track and prevent you from undoing all your hard work.
Rather than focusing on the negatives, focus on the benefits. Even when it’s cold, there are plenty of reasons to get outside. Exercising outside lets you benefit from fresh air and Vitamin D, which helps with calcium absorption, maintaining bone strength and keeping the immune system strong.
Exercise can help to beat those winter blues. After just 10 minutes of exercise, the brain releases ‘feel-good’ chemicals serotonin and dopamine, which can help reduce anxiety and depression. Staying active can also help conditions such as arthritis — a condition whose symptoms can often worsen over winter.
And of course, there are always the physical factors to consider. While it may be cold now, summer — and its less baggy wardrobe — will be here in just a few months. Maintaining a healthy exercise routine over winter means there won’t be that pressure to get back into shape come spring.
Having a goal or target is one of the easiest ways to get motivated. This could be a beach holiday, or perhaps a wedding or event. It could be losing a few kilos, reducing body fat, or fitting into a certain outfit.
Training for an event is another great motivator, as it gives you something to strive for. You could train for a marathon, fun run or an endurance event such as Tough Mudder.
Work towards a big reward for reaching your big target – such as a new outfit or a weekend away – but you can also work towards smaller rewards; little things you can look forward to at the end of each workout.
Can’t do it alone? Get a personal trainer. A personal trainer is a paid motivator, helping you push yourself when you lose your resolve. Trainers can also help achieve certain results, so if you want to improve your fitness, get great abs or lose weight, a trainer can get you there.
If you can’t afford a trainer, get a buddy. Exercising with a friend keeps you accountable, pushing you both to exercise when you may lose motivation apart. You could also join a running club, walking club or boot camp, or try activities where other people are always involved, such as dance, martial arts or rock climbing.
Your summer workout gear may not be appropriate for winter weather. Invest in proper winter performance gear to stay warm and dry. Be sure to warm up inside before you head out the door, stay hydrated and change out of sweaty gear after your workout.
It can be hard getting out of bed when it’s dark and cold. Give yourself some extra encouragement by setting a thermostat timer to warm your bedroom, and set your alarm to play songs that motivate.
Winter can be the perfect time to change up your workout routine. Check out classes in your area to find one that interests you – you may even save some money on winter ‘specials’. Or, if you live near the snow, you could try your hand at skiing or snowboarding.
Technology can be a great motivator. If you’re already a member of the CSIRO Total Wellbeing Diet, always log your exercise session in your online tracker. Check into the gym or post a picture from your workout using your phone. Mark your calendar with workout sessions and treat them as actual appointments. Create a countdown to summer. Listen to great tunes!
Don’t set any rigid rules – make exercise fun, not a chore. Use a routine that’s simple and easy to start. Don’t worry about setting aside one long period of workout time. Instead try to accumulate exercise throughout the day. But bear in mind, National Guidelines recommend at least 30 minutes of activity per day and 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week.