Winter means short days, long nights and icy temperatures. Unfortunately, our motivation levels tend to drop in lockstep with the thermometer.
But don’t fret. You can survive winter with your waistline, weight and fitness levels in check. All you need is a plan and a few motivational tricks to maintain your commitment through the winter chill.
READ MORE | 6 Ways To Stay Active And Move More In Winter
Those icy mornings can make it difficult to leave the warm, comfy confines of your duvet. Just don’t beat yourself up about your perceived lack of motivation. The winter weather actually has a direct impact on your mental state.
The changes to daylight hours affect our internal clock, or biorhythm, which is closely tied to exposure to sunlight. The shorter days and less skin exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet rays during the day can make you feel more tired than usual, which can make waking up a drag.
To break free from your bed on cold winter mornings, get some exposure to sunlight during the day to help regulate your biorhythm. You’ll hopefully feel more rested when your alarm goes off.
And when it does, flick those lights on as soon as possible to signal your brain that it’s time to get going. Hitting play on your power track or playlist will add to your morning momentum. And a steamy cup of coffee soon after will definitely get you out the door.
If you’re a chronic ‘snoozer’, download an alarm app that forces you to solve a problem or perform a cognitive task to turn it off. There are numerous options available in app stores, like the My Math Alarm Clock.
Bonus tip: Keep your wake-up time the same every day, even on weekends to create a beneficial habit. The body and mind revel in routine and consistency. The same applies for your bedtime every night!
Before you fall asleep, visualise yourself waking up and getting out of bed when your alarm goes off. It will help curb that desire to lie in when your phone starts screeching.
Going to bed 20-40 minutes earlier can also help you get more sleep, which helps you feel more rested come morning.
Geared for action
Fail to prepare, then prepare to fail! While winter and early morning exercise might seem incompatible, those who prepare best tend to succeed. That means getting your gear ready the night before so you’re not rummaging through your cupboard in your pyjamas.
Investing in the right winter workout gear can also make your trip to the gym a far more pleasurable and comfortable experience.
And learning the art of layering is a helpful tip – it gives you the option to strip away clothing as you and your workout intensity hot up!
Find a winter workout buddy
It’s easy to blow off a workout when you’re the only person you need to cancel with is you. But when there is someone else waiting for you at the gym and counting on you, like a training partner or personal trainer, you’ll have an added incentive to brave the dark and cold conditions.
Working out with a partner also makes your training sessions more enjoyable by adding a social and a competitive element. Having someone else battling through the same challenges and tough workout alongside you can also make it more bearable.
READ MORE | Avoid The Winter Workout Rut
‘Winterfy’ your goals
That summer beach holiday can seem like it’s a lifetime away in the dead of winter. While the desire to build a beach-worthy bod is a meaningful goal, it’s helpful to add in a few shorter-term objectives to boost your motivation levels.
Use winter to lose a set amount of weight to lay the foundation for your beach body, or set a new lifting PB or beat your previous best on that metcon workout or WOD.
Just make sure that your winter-specific goal is realistic and achievable, otherwise it could have the opposite effect and de-motivate you.
READ MORE | 5 Tips To Boost Winter Workout Motivation
If these tips still can’t get you to the gym each morning, perhaps it’s time to consider changing your training time.
Working out first thing in the morning doesn’t work for everyone. Instead, try a late afternoon or early evening gym session. It’s a great time to de-stress after work before heading home.
Working out in the afternoon, instead of the morning, will also help you avoid the worst of the cold weather. The key is to find what works for you and use that as your motivation to exercise each day.
Switch it up
If you dread the thought of working out, no matter what time it is, then it’s probably time to shake things up.
Add a few different exercises or techniques to your usual program, like a few super sets, a HIIT session or two, some Tabata training or a metcon class. You can also use the opportunity to give your training plan a complete winter makeover.
Doing the same boring workout routine at the same time every day, week in and week out, is a sure-fire way sap your winter workout motivation.
Author: Pedro van Gaalen
When he’s not writing about sport or health and fitness, Pedro is probably out training for his next marathon or ultra-marathon. He’s worked as a fitness professional and as a marketing and comms expert. He now combines his passions in his role as managing editor at Fitness magazine.