It's taken a while but I've finally resigned myself to the fact that summer has well and truly left me and winter really is here for the long haul. Now that it’s cold and dark, I’m finding it an altogether different challenge to stay focused and motivated on the health and fitness front. However, I’m trying my best to push through and, after an initial blip, so far it appears to be working!!!
As winter reared its ugly head and the sun refused to rise before 7am, my body decided to follow suit. Literally within a week of the clocks going back, my body just held its hands up in protest. After that, it was often a case of middle finger up to the alarm most mornings. I hear you body, I do! It’s just so snuggly under the duvet!! I get it!!
When I say it was a struggle to get out of bed in the morning, I’m literally just talking about doing so to get ready for work; a simple task. Getting up early to exercise or prepare a healthy lunch to take to the office was a totally different ball game and a seemingly insurmountable one at that!
When I arrived home of a cold, dark evening, all I wanted to do was jump in a warm shower, hop into my PJ’s, watch Netflix and eat, well, pretty much everything to be honest! My top craving for a cosy, wintery dinner is definitely a steaming hot bowl of cheesy pasta….which apparently, and very unfortunately at that, isn’t great for sculpting the bod when consumed in the kind of quantities a winter's eve demands.
As winter blessed us with it's presence, I also discovered I was ready for bed at 9:30pm most nights….although, naughty me, I’m still not disciplined enough to go to bed that early. Don't judge me! There are just far too many episodes of Suits to get through! My desperate need for sleep so early in the evening was undoubtedly partly due to being incredibly busy at work but I'm certain the turning of the seasons had a lot to do with it too.
Yep, the dreary mornings and nights (not to mention the cold!) immediately effected my levels of motivation and my drive to sustain a healthy lifestyle. For a moment I almost packed it all in for a life of cheesy pasta and red wine!
The winter hump…
As the weeks went on, it became noticeable how my dearth of motivation (and the cheesy pasta!) was having an affect on my body. It struck me that all I was doing was turning the clock back on the hard work I had put in over the summer. Increasingly I was starting to feel that all too familiar layer of winter insulation forming and, more importantly, my sluggishness was having an effect on my strength and mobility, which as those of you who've been following my progress from the beginning will know, is something I've been working hard to improve. Eventually I realised that if I didn't make a change, the work I'd put in to feeling and being stronger, more toned and more mobile than ever was going to have been a waste of my time.
Not this time winter!!...
For as long as I can remember, each year has followed the same path. I work hard during the summer to exercise and eat healthily and by the time autumn rolls around I feel great. Then all of a sudden winter hits me and I just can't seem to maintain the routine. I lose all motivation, gorge my way into that annual mince pie and mulled wine jacket and, by Christmas, I feel slovenly and, well, a bit pants really!!
This winter I'm determined not to let that happen!! I figure, what’s the point of dragging myself out of bed at 5am for workouts and working hard over the summer to banish those cravings for unhealthy sugary foods, simply to revert back to eating crap all of the time and not doing any exercise? Answer? There is no point!
Another important factor driving me to change things up this time around is that, most winters I tend to go away on a snowboarding trip with a group of friends. This year is no different! Every year I set myself an internal challenge to be at my strongest and fittest (mainly to keep up with everybody on the slopes!) but, as winter hits, I tend to lose any gains I might have made during the summer. This year I’m determined it will be different!
For all of the above reasons, after about a month of having that sinking winter feeling, I’ve decided to turn it around. I’ve invested in some warm sportswear that I can quickly pop on when I jump out of bed, thus encouraging me to get out there into the cold to work out or cycle to the office. Well, that's the theory anyway! I’ve also been trying to stick to making healthy lunches and dinners and resist (to an extent at least!) a constant diet of mince pies from now until Christmas. I'll definitely be indulging in the odd treat here and there and my Christmas breakfast will still mainly comprise of chocolate but I'm determined that this year it's going to be all in balance!
So far I’ve found that after forcing myself to brave the early, bitterly cold mornings once or twice, it's become a whole lot easier! My tips so far are:
1. Invest in some warm workout gear. I've just nabbed myself some Under Armour Cold Gear and some Reebok goodies, including a scuba hoodie, which is amazing and super warm!
2. Set the heating to come on a bit before you're due to get out of bed. Can you see the theme here is all about warmth?!
3. Book a class. You're more likely to get out of bed for it if you've paid for it. Particularly if you've paid eye-watering London prices! It's worked for me!
4. Spend some time researching healthy warming winter recipes that aren't cheesy pasta. Let's face it, nobody wants a salad in December!
For all of you who are struggling with the same plight now that winter is upon us, I totally get that when you’re tucked up in bed, braving the cold seems like the end of the world. However, trust me, the cold and dark world out from underneath your duvet is not that bad after all! Try it a few times and before you know it you'll be back into the swing of it! If I can do it, you can.
By the time Christmas rolls around, I’m determined to feel just as fit and strong as I do now (if not more!) whilst I happily tuck into my croissants (yes, plural) and fizz for breakfast. I’m also determined to be strong and able to keep up with the bloody speed demons I’ll be boarding with when we go away. You know who you are!
All is not lost! With a little bit of perseverance (and some warm attire) we can all maintain our healthy lifestyles this winter!! Bring it on!!
If you have any tips to share for making it through this winter, I'll welcome them with open arms. I’m not so naive to think there won't be moments we will struggle to keep at it. However, any words of encouragement you have for getting through those dark times would be greatly appreciated!!