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Five ways to stay motivated this winter

Ashleigh Went

When the mercury drops, it can feel like the couch is calling your name.

It’s tough to get out of bed and even harder to venture back out into the dark after you get home from work.

Here are a few reasonably simple ways to keep your body moving and your diet in check over winter:

Schedule in your workouts

Here is the problem with not scheduling in your workouts: there’s a good chance you won’t end up doing them.

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

You set your alarm for 6am, telling yourself that you might get out of bed to exercise before work. The alarm goes off, you’re toasty warm and snuggled up in bed, and you tell yourself you’ll squeeze in a gym session after work. You finish work, tired and the appeal of a hot dinner in your pajamas seems a whole lot more appealing than the gym. It’s ok, you can workout in the morning, right?

This is an easy cycle to fall into and I’ve been there myself. Eliminate the ‘maybes’ from the equation and make sure that you’re scheduling in your workouts at a specific time that works for you – the same way you would schedule in a work meeting, family dinner or anything else that is important to you.

Choose a goal that has meaning for you

It’s no secret that the people who are in the gym through winter will look fitter come summertime.

However, tempting as it may be, do not use this as your sole motivation for you training through winter.

In my experience, you are far more likely to feel empowered and satisfied if you choose a goal that has a substantial meaning to you, beyond simply aesthetics (unless of course you’re competing in a body building competition, which is a different topic).

Whether it’s a 5km fun run or squatting 120 kilos, goals that are based on performance and ability will give you greater satisfaction and keep you on the road to success and good health – particularly if you remember to celebrate the progress and small wins along the way.

Make it enjoyable

I regularly hear “I don’t enjoy exercise” and I have to say (don’t hate me), I don’t really believe it.

The reason is because there are so many different activities that you can do – even in winter – to get your body moving, beyond lifting weights or running. If you don’t like running – that’s fine! Hate the gym? That is ok too. Off the top of my head, here are a selection to try:

  • Swimming (at an indoor pool)
  • Boxing
  • Walking
  • Dancing
  • Martial arts
  • Bootcamp
  • Crossfit
  • Touch football
  • Aqua aerobics
  • Cycling/spin classes
  • Yoga
  • Oztag
  • Pilates
  • Soccer
  • Tai chi
  • Pole dancing
  • Gymnastics
  • Calisthenics
  • Roller derby

Get out and try them! A lot of them can be done alone or with friends, and the ones that require signing up will usually allow you to try at least one class. Give it a go – if all else fails, try to remember a time in your life when moving your body has brought you happiness – whether it was jumping on the trampoline in the backyard or rollerblading with your dad – and try that.

In the same way, eating healthy over winter doesn’t have to be boring. Soups, roast dinners, curries, pastas and stews can all be made healthy with a little planning and effort. Put in the effort to buy fresh, quality produce and experiment with flavours.

Give yourself wiggle room

You have to allow yourself a little room to move, and by that I mean going out for dinner, having nights where you do just curl up on the couch and sloth, and celebrating with friends.

When you restrict yourself too much and set the bar too high, you’ll end up feeling guilty and inadequate when you can’t live up to your own expectations. This will set a negative tone and leave you (understandably) wanting to throw the whole thing in and just eat a family sized block of chocolate on the couch in your underwear (no? Just me?).

Instead, make space to enjoy your life – good food, time with your partner, friends, family and loved ones. Whatever you do, don’t feel guilty about these things. They are the moments that you’ll remember, the things that keep you sane. Keeping yourself healthy by exercising and eating healthy the rest of the time will make you enjoy these moments even more.

Get the right gear

Canberra winters can be unpleasant – to put it mildly. Having the right clothing to keep you warm and make you feel good really does make all the difference.

I know this because I get up at 5am when it is really truly freezing and work out in a big gym that has no heating. I’ve also trained for a marathon straight through winter and know the struggle of dressing warm but no so warm that 5 kilometres in you want to take off all your clothes.

The secret is to invest in workout gear that is fit for purpose: good quality, functional clothing. Sweat wicking fabric keeps you warm by absorbing your sweat, and design features like vents will allow the heat to escape from your warmest parts (like under your arms) to stop you from getting too hot.

If you need some help, don’t be afraid to ask for it! Most of the staff at stores like Lululemon, Lorna Jane and Rebel Sport are familiar with the stock – they probably wear a lot of it themselves – and can help you select the right products for your lifestyle.

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Ashleigh Went

HerCanberra ACTIVE Editor Ashleigh Went has a passion for all things health and wellness. As someone who loves champagne and cheese almost as she loves a sweaty workout, she's all about living a healthy, balanced lifestyle. She can usually be found with her nose in a book, planning her next adventure, in the gym or updating her Instagram @wentworthavenue. More about the Author