With February fast approaching, are you finding your New Year’s resolution to get in shape is becoming as distant a memory as the warm weather? Sure, shorter days and frigid temperatures may seem like respectable excuses for ditching the gym, but they should, in fact, motivate you to get moving. Engaging in regular exercise during winter elevates your energy level, boosts your mood and reduces stress, all while helping you maintain a fit physique.
Still not dusting off your runners and heading for the door? Here are a few strategies that may help make your workout regimen a bit easier to follow.
Rise and Shine
Numerous studies have shown that people who exercise in the morning are far more likely to stick to their routines in the long run. A long day at work or school can serve to weaken the resolve of even the most dedicated gym-goer. Getting through your workout early in the day eliminates the temptation to skip the health club and head home to curl up on the couch.
So what if you’re not exactly a morning person?
The key to making an early workout part of your fitness plan is getting a good night’s sleep every night. It’s important to establish a schedule and stick to it, even on weekends. Sleeping late on Saturday and Sunday can lead to Sunday night insomnia, throwing sleep patterns for the rest of the week.
Other ways to ensure quality slumber include avoiding caffeine and nicotine for eight hours before your desired bedtime, not consuming large quantities of food or drink right before crawling between the sheets and resisting the temptation to nap.
Hitting the sack early, rising at the crack of dawn, and still not a gym regular? Maybe what you need is some external motivation.
Finding a friend with similar fitness goals and agreeing to be “workout buddies” is a strategy that works on a number of levels. First, if you are both new to the health club scene, it makes tackling the weight room and cardio equipment far less scary. Attending classes, such as aerobics or yoga, is also more fun in pairs. Having a buddy is a great way of committing to a specific workout time too – you’re far more likely to brave the elements knowing your friend is waiting for you.
Having a fitness partner can also spark a bit of healthy competition, motivating you to shave that extra minute off your mile on the treadmill, or squeeze out a few extra reps during your lifting session. And hey, if nothing else, you’ll at least have someone to gush to when you’re finally able to slip back into your “skinny jeans!”
If alarm clocks and fitness allies still don’t have you making the most of your gym membership, consider implementing a rewards system for yourself. Set realistic goals, such as fitting in a workout three days per week for a month, or dropping the five pounds you gained over the holidays, and treat yourself to something special once you’ve achieved them. Just make sure your rewards are in line with your ultimate goal of getting into shape – treating yourself to a tray of mom’s brownies because you made it to Pilates twice this week would be more of a hindrance than a help!
Just Get Moving!
Your hectic schedule may not always allow for regular gym sessions, but remember that exercise can be cumulative. Don’t stress out over a missed workout, make up for it! Take the stairs, walk instead of riding the bus, or do some quick stretches or strength-training exercises before you take your morning shower.
Above all, don’t get discouraged – do your best to stick to your routine and stay motivated, either by setting an alarm, enlisting the help of a friend, or striving to earn that special something.