How to stay motivated during the winter months

Author: E-Fitness | | Categories: Body Conditioning , Body Sculpting , Fitness Coach , Fitness Instructor , Stretching , Weight Loss Coach

Pilates Instructor Toronto

From E-Fitness Times, November 2018


We're in the heart of Autumn and Winter is knocking on our door. We're layering up to combat the cold, replacing our salads with soup, and for some of us, we might be replacing our gym shoes with slippers. This is when we need to stop and say "No thank you, Winter! I'm going to stay healthy all year round!" As with many things in life, easier said than done.

Summer is wonderful for many reasons: the sun, the warmth, and the fresh food to name a few. The problem for us Canadians is that we only get two months of it.  It's so much easier to stay healthy when the weather is on your side. The days are longer, the temperature is more agreeable and the clothing for summer … well, let's just say it keeps one motivated to stay active and eat right. So, what can we do when our bodies are literally craving a layer of fat to stay warm for the winter?

It's not a coincidence that the majority of people gain a little cushioning over the winter months. Our bodies are very adaptive.  When the cold weather approaches the cravings for starchy and fatty foods go up. The body is intentionally gaining a layer of insulation.  This is a survival mechanism going back to the dawn of man. The problem is, our modern society couldn't care less what our caveman bodies want. We have Christmas parties to go to and potential winter retreats to Cancun to think about.  Plus, we've got warm clothing!!!!! There's no longer a need for this layer of insulation. Problem: our bodies are biologically basic and haven't caught on to what modern-man has developed.  Though normally a good idea, when it comes to the winter munchies, we have to fight against our natural instincts. Here are some tricks of the trade to stay healthy and motivated during the winter months:

Embrace comfort food … the healthy kind

The desire for heavier meals increases during the cold months.  So, how do you temper it? Lots and lots of starchy vegetables. Parsnips, turnips, carrots, all the squashes etc. Through these vegetables your body receives the starch it is craving with a lot fewer calories.  Plus, the multitude of vitamins and minerals will help come cold and flu season. Vegetable stews and soups, and roasted vegetables as a healthy side to accompany a calorie-wise roast, are the perfect way to satisfy the comfort cravings. Be wary of butter, breaded meat dishes, potatoes, gravy, and cheese. I'm not saying avoid them, but be mindful of how often you have them. Instead of a gooey mac and cheese, try a hearty beef stew full of parsnips, carrots and peas. It will give your body a lot more of what it needs and it will balance out the craving hormones.

Plan your workout before you plan anything else

Once you have decided on the type of exercise to do over the winter months (classes, running, skiing, skating etc), block it in your calendar. No wavering.  Your health is important and if someone asks you to do something you let them know that you're free after you fit in your exercise.  You don't even need to tell them what it is, but treat your exercise time as a legitimate appointment. In the summer you might find this isn't an issue but in the winter other invitations might sound more appealing.  Just say no. Your exercise time is blocked and confirmed.

Enlist a friend

If you know you're prone to distraction when it comes to exercise, find a buddy, and no, not a partner-in-crime because they're just as likely to skip a session.  Find someone who is as serious as you about the commitment to health and fitness, and hold each other accountable.  Also, try something new together. Do you find you always go to the same class? Why not add in something totally different here and there, over the winter months, to keep your mind interested and your body guessing.  Encourage each other to venture out of your comfort zones when it comes to exercise. Finding something that sparks a new interest might be just the right thing to keep you going this winter.

Have workout clothes ready or better yet, treat yourself to a new exercise outfit

If you workout in the morning, or at least the first part of the day, lay out your clothes the night before, or pack your bag with your gym shoes, water bottle and mat, placing it at the door so you're constantly reminded of what you need to do that day. If all else fails, treat yourself to a nice new workout outfit. Sure it seems a bit frivolous, but if it's going to get you working out, it's all worth it.

Test out one or all of the above to see what works for you and keep moving this winter!

  • All classes running as normal
  • Keep your eyes open for January signup discounts … coming soon :-)