If you are like most people, you can relate to the shift that happens when winter rolls around. Suddenly, people turn into bear-like creatures who have a very strong urge to sit by the fire, sip hot chocolate, eat snacks, binge-watch movies, and hibernate. Not that there is anything wrong with any of these things individually…it’s the fact that sometimes this gravitation toward all things cozy can distract you from the commitment you made to yourself to prioritize your health.
In the warmer months it seems so much easier. When the sun comes out we start to think about bathing suits, shorts, and vacations, which sometimes serves as our motivation to be healthy. Suddenly we are counting our calories, increasing our step counts, and measuring our waistlines in anticipation of fitting into that favorite summer outfit. When it’s warm and dry we have more opportunity to be outdoors and it’s less tempting to just stay inside and abandon our fitness routines. However, those winter months can often be dreary, cold, and wet…none of which seems very enticing when you are bundled up in the comfort and warmth of your own home.
So, what’s the problem if we want to spend a few months taking a break from fitness and enjoying the solace of home? Well, what we often fail to realize is that we not only lose motivation but we also lose ground on all that we gained during the summer. We are not talking about pounds here…we are talking about “gains” such as flexibility, endurance, agility, muscle mass, etc. All those months we spent working so hard to attain goals are now wasted. We’ve returned to square one. This can often be the cycle for many people who don’t find ways to combat the temptation to wind down during the winter.
So, how do we avoid this pitfall? How do we maintain the momentum from summer into fall, winter, and through spring? We interviewed some of our Sierra Flow Fitness rock stars to see what they do to keep their commitment to fitness during the winter months.
1. Do you notice a difference between your fitness during the winter versus other times of year?
2. What do you think are your biggest obstacles with regard to your health and fitness during the winter months?
3. Have you found anything that helps you to successfully navigate those obstacles? If so, what?
4. What would be your best advice for those who struggle to stay on track during the winter and holidays?
1. I definitely notice a difference. With the weather change and holidays we just want to be cozy inside. I start to become lazy and forget everything I’ve been working for, almost giving myself an excuse for not staying committed to my fitness and health. For example I’m not one to run in the cold or the dark so I have to work harder at finding ways to fit in cardio, or just suck it up and get out there!
2. Well first off I have a poor immune system so get sick easily, I also have arthritis which can be harder to deal with in the winter. I would say those are my bigger obstacles to over come but I know that staying active can also help offset that.
3. If I feel myself start to lose motivation, I remind myself that this feeling is just temporary, it’s mind over matter. I do this for not only myself but my family. I want to set good examples for my daughter, kids replicate what they see and I want her to grow up living and knowing a healthy lifestyle. Plus she’s a toddler and we need something to get out all that energy!
The reason I work out at Sierra Flow is because of the group environment. The friends I have made, my work out partners count on me to be there working out alongside them. We encourage each other along with our awesome trainers. They have made the “sacrifice” to get out of bed and be there, I know I had better be there too.
Besides my work out family I have my personal reasons to stay fit. I’ll be 55 this month and exercise is the key to staying young and healthy. You, and I have to be more intentional and consistent with exercise as the years creep up because life will take its toll if you don’t fight back. Exercise is stress management, exercise is sleeping better, exercise is brain fertilizer.
Winter is a time I’m more likely to indulge in comfort food. As good as it might taste at the time it makes me feel sluggish and slow. The only way to turn my brain and body back on is to exercise. For me, it’s not so much about weight, (although its a bonus) it’s about staying on my game. My family, my patients, and my staff count on me to be my best and exercise helps me get there.
1. I probably do more exercise in the summer because of all the extra outdoor activities but I really love exercising when its colder so going to classes or the gym is a big priority for me in the winter. A great way to get out and warm up and be social, too.
2 & 3. I struggle with Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD) in the dark months of winter so that can affect my mental outlook and energy level. My tendency is to want to hide out and avoid people but I have learned that, for me, the best remedy for depression and isolation is EXERCISE and MOVEMENT, especially fitness and yoga classes because they are so much fun. I never liked group exercise classes before I joined Sierra Flow Fitness but I am now addicted to them because all I have to do is show up and the magic happens. Seriously, I’ve never had so much fun exercising and I am a person who LOVES to exercise! Their classes are phenomenal and the enthusiasm and support they give to all of us encourages me to show up no matter what sort of excuse my head is trying to invent. I am so grateful to Susan and April for their positive energy and intention to create a safe and fun place for everyone to be healthy.
Also, I just want to add something about being older. it is my belief that we are NEVER TOO OLD to become fit. In fact, it might be the secret to feeling young forever. It never occurs to me that I am usually the oldest person (by far) in class or some fitness event. So, just start wherever you are and move in whatever way your body is willing and don’t think of age as a deterrent to your health and fitness.
4. Don’t listen to the “stories” your mind makes up to discourage you from your fitness and health goals. I always keep my Fitness Bag (with shoes, clothes, water & yoga mat) in my car at all times so I can get to a class without having to go home after work. Most importantly for me, is how I feel when I am moving my body. No matter how tired or cranky I am, exercising and doing yoga always make me feel better. Endorphins are the best motivator. Do NOT think about how tired you are, how cold it is, how far you have to drive, how hungry you are, how much you have to do, etc. Instead, think about how GREAT you feel after you exercise and how movement is what our bodies are built to do. Think about how great you will feel afterward.
I also don’t think of fitness as a seasonal thing. It is part of my everyday routine, like brushing my teeth. I have lighter workout days (maybe yoga and walking) but everyday I do some kind of physical movement. Once you think of it that way, it becomes a habit and then a lifestyle and then you are set for life.
Above all be kind to yourself, no matter where you are in your fitness journey. If you don’t exercise for awhile, don’t beat yourself up, just start in that moment and do something good for yourself. Each moment is a new opportunity to be good to yourself. Just do that one little thing you can do right now! No one is ever motivated by self-hate so love yourself wherever you are and celebrate each positive thing you do.
1. As a large woman I have always struggled with going to a gym. Somehow I always felt out of place even though I knew I was there to become a better version of myself. I wasted too many years worrying about what people would think about the fat girl who dared to try things that typically “skinny” people do. So, finding motivation, overall, has often been very difficult for me. That being said, winter weather is another potential excuse for me to stay home and neglect healthy habits.
So, yes, I definitely notice a decrease in my motivation in the winter months. During the summer I am always jumping from one adventure to the next and I think the beautiful weather motivates me to squeeze the most out of my free time. Once the time changes I find that I am more tired and want to sleep more. At the very least I want to cozy up at home instead of going out to get some exercise!
2. My biggest obstacles are eating too many snacks and not wanting to move much when it’s cold. I could totally become a couch potato in the winter! It’s a constant battle to get up and get moving. Also, the holidays are tough for me with all the yummy food. I want to sample it all!
3. I have found that I need to stay focused on my “why” for being healthy. For me, I spent many years taking care of others and neglecting my own health. As a result, I went through some pretty difficult times where I was unable to find a good balance and I was depressed and felt helpless. One day I realized that I was no good to my family if I didn’t take care of myself and I knew that I wanted to be around to see my grandchildren someday. In addition, I also had an epiphany that I only get ONE life and I refuse to waste one more day being a mediocre version of myself. In that process I found a love for hiking and the outdoors. My desire to (literally) reach new heights motivates me to put in the time with my regular workouts. I want to always be ready to say yes to the next adventure!
4. My advice would be to take a sober look at WHY you are lacking motivation and then take steps to remedy that. Do you struggle with the holidays due to some kind of trauma in your life? I know this is true for many people and it was my story for many years. I had to work through the emotional aspects of my mood change during the holiday season before I could take care of myself physically. There is no shame in admitting that there is something you need to work through. I promise that doing the work will change your life!
I think it’s also important to keep your eye on the prize, no matter what is happening around you. Finding people to be accountable to is a good way to make that happen. The more you stick with it during the winter, the less you back track and it gives you the ability to meet goals year round.
I also want to say that it’s important that we give ourselves grace. There are going to be days when we skip a workout or eat junk food. We are human and it happens! The important thing is that we don’t set up shop there. When you blow it, pick yourself up and move on. No amount of guilt is going to change the situation. You did it. It’s over. On to the next thing! Picking ourselves up as quickly as possible is going to determine where we are in the next month, 3 months, 6 months, or year. Getting back up is the most important part!
As you can see, if you are struggling with the winter wind-down, you are not alone! There are many of us who feel it and understand why it can be more difficult to get moving this time of year. Don’t let that discourage you from getting up each day and doing your very best. Your fit family is always here to encourage you and hold you accountable to the commitment you made to yourself…if you want to be held accountable! Reach out and let us know you’re here and are ready to make that commitment to stay fit this winter. Happy Holidays from all of us here at Sierra Flow Fitness. We wish you and your families a happy, healthy, and safe holiday season and are looking forward to a healthy new year!