Shaking off winter - tips for new season fitness motivation
As winter starts to wind down, our fitness motivation may still be at an all-time low thanks to the cold. However, we begin to enjoy fleeting moments of sunshine and warmer weather, and it’s natural for thoughts to start turning towards getting physically ready for summer. While I shudder at the terms “summer body” or “beach bod” - because there’s an implication there that healthy lifestyles are simply a fad - there’s definitely merit to wanting to look and feel better when the weather forces us to wear less clothing.
But, before you consider properly emerging from your pile of blankets and braving the world beyond the couch fort, there’s the question of how to get yourself motivated to start shrugging off those winter blues. Here’s some simple tips to get your engine idling before summer revs up.
Start simple. If you’re someone who hasn’t put on activewear since late April, you’re not doing yourself any favours by saying you’re going to start exercising 4-5 days a week. Your fitness motivation might last a week or two, but if you start to miss a day here and there, you’ll find your inspiration soon disappears.
Instead, start small, and factor exercise into your normal activity. If you’re out walking the dog, find a stretch of a few hundred metres that you can turn into a jog. If that feels good, make it a bit further. Spend a few minutes every day stretching so your body feels a bit more athletic, especially on cold mornings. Park on the far side of the shopping centre and walk a bit further, a bit faster, or carry your bags to the car instead of using a trolley.
If you go out on day one and try to get fit straight away, you’re asking for trouble. Start by simply being more active than you currently are, and go from there.
Focus on food. Winter food is my absolute favourite - it’s the best time of the year for pastas and stews (and don’t get me started on potato bake) - but it’s safe to say it’s not always the best nutritional choice. As the weather warms up, eating healthier gets a little easier. When spring hits, the amount of quality fresh produce in supermarkets is fantastic; you can easily knock together a great fresh salad without breaking the bank, and as the days get longer and the evenings less freezing, it’s easier to convince yourself a lighter meal will be fine.
But, like the exercise, don’t overdo it. Start by making small changes to gradually build new good habits. Try firstly to just limit your bad habits (rather than trying to outright eliminate them). Got a bit heavy handed with red wine during winter? Cut it back to once a week rather than trying to go cold turkey. Don’t waste time and energy experimenting to see if the keto diet, or the paleo diet, or a vegan diet will help you get fit fast. Just make better decisions in your day-to-day eating.
- Drink water. It’s a no-brainer, really, and no tips list for fitness motivation would be complete without it. And while it does help to replace sugary drinks with water, this tip is more about feeling better in general. When your muscles aren’t getting enough fluid, they don’t work as well. So, if you’re only just getting back into exercise and you’re a bit dehydrated, you’ll find it even more challenging. You’ve already made the decision to start your fitness journey anew - don’t make it any harder than it has to be by depriving your body what it needs.
It’s ok to not be perfect. This is critical - I can tell you right now, if you say you’re going to tighten up your habits, and start exercising a little more, and drink more water, and doing all the things above - you’re going to have days where you disregard all that and retreat back to your couch fort with chocolate and wine… and it’ll feel great!
Don’t beat yourself up over it - moderation is the key. As long as you’re making more good decisions than bad decisions over time, you’re heading in the right direction.
- Chris Kessell, TnG Ambassador and CrossFit coach