The days are shorter, the weather is cooler, clothes are fitting a little more snug, and you've abandoned the fitness program you were so dedicated to over the summer. Sound familiar? So what now?
“I'll pick it up again on Monday”… “It's only 5 lbs”… “I'll take the dog out for a jog on Saturday morning”… “I just need to watch what I eat a little more carefully”...
If you've already found yourself making these statements in your head or out loud, you’re likely quickly headed in a downward spiral.
STOP! It's not too late to correct your path here but you’d better pull-up or pull the ejection handle because this won’t end well. Get yourself focused and think about these 5 things as we enter the holiday season.
- DEVELOP A PLAN of ATTACK.
Life doesn't come with an instruction manual with a chapter on "How to avoid the winter weight gain". There are no apps or energy drinks that will miraculously make staying fit through the winter easy or effortless. Whether you like it or not you'll need a plan, and a realistic one at that. Here are some tips to keep you on track:
Pre-Plan days and times for your workouts....there ARE apps for that. Expect and plan around the inevitable change in work schedule and holiday events.
Be consistent. Sticking to the plan includes both exercise and nutrition. Workout partners or groups can help you stay on track.
Change it up. Experiment with some new training modalities or methods and explore some different fall and winter nutrition/meal ideas to keep you motivated and make things interesting.
- SHOW UP.
As we get less sunlight, wear heavier layered clothing, and breath-in the crisp, cold, winter air we revert back to our animal instincts and begin to go into a kind of hibernation mode. STOP! While the couch looks, and probably is, more comfortable than the gym or the running trail, you have to get moving and into an environment that will motivate or inspire effort. Hit the gym or the running trail when others are too. Being around people making an effort might inspire you to do the same. While just showing up won't guarantee results it's certainly better that not showing up at all.
- GET OUTSIDE.
Plan at least one workout a week outdoors. Taking your workout outside can be refreshing. Getting a little sun and fresh air can be healthy and motivating. Serotonin (a naturally occurring hormone) levels in your brain are responsible for regulating mood, sexual function, appetite, social behavior and sleep. If your serotonin levels are low, you could experience depression, anxiety, insomnia, and related dysfunctions in many other areas of your life. Exercise is one way of stimulating your brains production of serotonin and getting exposure to sunlight is another. Exercise outside this winter and get a "double-dose".
- QUALITY NOT QUANTITY.
Keep the workout intensity as high as possible. You'll get more benefit from 20 minutes of intense exercise than an hour of going through the motions. Stick with compound movements and lift heavy things that challenge your entire body rather than isolated movements that burn fewer calories. Add those bicep curls to your lunge or squat and do those abdominal exercises you're so emotionally attached to in-between sets as “active rest”.
- BE AWARE of YOUR CALORIC INTAKE.
If your moving less, then your caloric need will be less. Don’t sabotage yourself by eating MORE and moving LESS! This takes will power and some accountability. Holiday treats are often inevitable but overeating doesn't have to be. Yes, there are apps for tracking and logging food intake but they won't stop you from making poor nutrition choices. They can only help make you aware. Whatever you think your caloric intake is for the day, it's almost ALWAYS more. Under-reporting calories s the biggest miss I find clients making. Get on track by knowing what your caloric need is and be conscious of when and how much you’re eating.