It’s too cold, it’s too dark, I’m too tired, I just don’t feel motivated… Standard complaints you hear as a trainer in winter.
Having been a Personal Trainer for the past decade I’ve heard all sorts of excuses and for the most part it simply determines who wants change bad enough, who truly lives fitness as a lifestyle and not an accessory or a means to an end and whether or not one has a strong emotional WHY reason as to why they exercise in the first place… What is your relationship with exercise? Is it a luxury that happens after A,B,C,D,E,F & G or is it one of your non- negotiable A,B,C’s? As cliche as it might sound you can have excuses or you can have results but you can’t have both!
- START WITH WHY!
So why do you train? Why go through the pain? What’s it all really for? I believe if you have a strong enough Why reason driving you, you can only have reasons to exercise and not excuses not to. Reconnect with what it really means to you to exercise regularly and achieve your health and fitness related goals. What is emotionally driving you? What emotions do you no longer want to feel and what emotions are you looking to feel as a result of pursuing your health and fitness goals. Personally through times where I have had no specific goal for my training I have simply exercised for love of feeling
good, for mental clarity, for mood enhancement and general wellbeing. Why feel ordinary when you can feel extra-ordinary right?
2. Do you have a specific GOAL? Is someone keeping you accountable to that goal?
Have you decided to achieve something specific? Maybe you want to drop a dress size, get to a certain desired weight, get super shredded into single digit body-fat percentage or maybe you’re doing a “winter bulk”. Whatever it is it is always a good idea to first set a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goal and then get someone to keep you accountable to that goal! A trainer, a friend, a family member, but ideally someone who has been on the same journey you are embarking on or is on the same mission as you! Aim to set a goal you really believe in achieving as a first milestone to build momentum and self confidence for bigger harder goals in future!
3) “It’s too cold” – There’s no such thing as bad weather – Just inappropriate clothing and bad methods of transportation 🙂
Personally I like the saying “There’s no such thing as bad weather – Just soft people” just a tad better but in the same note I’m not super keen to get outside and do some s
prints when it’s cold and raining. Maybe I’m a little soft but either way I get the job done – just in the gym instead.
Here’s some simple tips to battle sleeping in when it’s cold:
- Sleep In your gym gear – get up, get a hoodie – get going.
- Warm your clothes up on a heater before getting them on.
- Do not indulge in hitting the snooze button – start the day with an act of discipline. The rest of the day will get better and better. Like they say discipline is the bridge between goals and success.
- Get a banger of a track for your alarm that will fire you into action
- Get organised the night before! Lay out your clothes, pack your gym bag, make your morning process as easy as possible to get you out the door as quick as possible.
- Accountability buddy – Promise your friend at the gym you’ll see them tomorrow morning, you’re more likely to let yourself down but not your friends. Don’t have any friends? Book a session with a trainer or maybe try line up a tinder date at the gym – you can impress them with all your pull ups and squats 😛
- Have a vision board or something that reminds of your goals near your bed.
- Self talk – silence the weak voice that has the opinion that it’s ok to bail. That tomorrow you’ll make up for it. The voice that says a few more minutes sleep wont hurt. Do not indulge in the thought of that voice – he/she does nothing positive for you, that is the voice of self sabtoage and self doubt, the voice that keeps dreams exactly that – dreams. Procrastination is the biggest killer of self confidence. Value your own word and do what you set out to do!
4) “I feel sluggish and lethargic” – What is your nutrition like?
We are prone to putting on our winter coats in the form of body-fat throughout the winter period. It’s our natural response to the cold – put on layers of body-fat through over indulgence in poor quality carbs that will store away to produce a nice new layer of meaty insulation but you needn’t be another fat stat. Beat the carb cravings – Here’s what you can do:
- Plan in good quality carbs from fibrous sources like beans, whole-grains, brown rice, quinoa, sweet potato, oats, fruits and more. Adequate carbs from fibrous sources will most likely counter-act any carb cravings and prevent you from going H.A.M. on biscuits, ice cream, cakes and pastries. BONUS sugar binds to fibre and has a higher chance of passing through your system. Carbs that hit the sewer and not your waistline? Winning!
- Eat more portions of protein – The thermogenic effect of protein is higher than that of carbs or fat. In a very basic nutshell, your body temp will be warmer and you’ll be staying leaner PLUS protein keeps you more satiated reducing cravings for more carbs.
- Ensure you’re simply eating enough. Are you getting enough energy to support your requirements and furthermore are you eating the right macronutrient (Proteins, Carbs, Fats) balance for your body type and goals? Use a food journal like MyFitnessPal to track, measure and adjust if necessary.
- Train your nervous system to deal with the cold, that way your bodies response won’t be to to chuck on some new layers of body-fat. For the past few years I have been having cold showers and since then I don’t feel nearly as cold as I used to when the barometer drops! There are a plethora of benefits to having cold showers that I’ll leave you to research yourself or maybe address in another post. PS. Also check out Wim Hof the Ice Man, the dude has defied science and he teaches his methods all over the world, you can even download his app and practice his methods for being non responsive to the cold.
5) ” I don’t have the energy” – Nutrient Deficiency / Poor quality sleep / Lack of sleep / Hormonal Imbalance
There can be a number of reasons as to why your energy levels suck all the time, most common one I believe is the obvious lack of sleep or good quality bio available nutrients in the diet. It can be difficult to get enough nutrients from our foods as soil quality is so poor and depleted. Also if fruits and veggies are picked too soon there is not enough time for nutrient transfer from soil to fruit/veggie. You can get some bloodwork done and see what if any you personally need to supplement with. One common deficiency in winter is Vitamin D which we synthesise in response to direct sunlight – ideally 10-20 minutes to the whole body – daily. Most of us would hardly get this amount in winter time and I take a vitamin D3 Supplement only in winter. Ever wonder why your energy and mood levels improve so much when you get that first dose of Spring sun? That’s the D baby!
6) Are you simply getting enough H20?
Quite often poor energy levels and stroppy moods can simply be the effect of dehydration. It can be harder in winter to drink enough water, we don’t perspire as much and drinking cold water when its cold isn’t all that alluring. Try drinking more herbal teas, warm water, soups and eating more water based veggies like cucumbers, celery, tomato, zucchini etc. In general, I always try to keep a large 1.5L bottle of water around and aim to get through two per day. If you want to find out how much you should be drinking take your weight in kgs and multiply it by 0.033. Eg 80kgs x 0.033 = 2.64L.
7) “I’m too tired” – Are you getting enough good quality sleep?
Sleep quality usually improves during winter as we sleep deeper in a colder climate – ideal room temp being between 13-16 degrees C. If you’re sleeping well that good old 8 hour mark is what you want to aim for. If you’re tossing and turning all night try limiting the use of electronics at night time, make your room as dark as possible, turn the wi-fi and bluetooth off and have a cold shower before bed. You’ll sleep like a baby (Why do we use this term? It just occurred to me that most parents complain that their baby wakes up all throughout the night?) and be ready to smash your morning workout! If you find that your mind wont stop thinking try journalling or getting it out of your head and onto paper. This can work a charm! Supplementing with some magnesium if you’re deficient can greatly improve quality of sleep also.
8) “I just don’t have the time” – Make it a priority. Exercise should be a non negotiable in your life not a luxury.
I don’t even want to go deep on this one at any level. Make time. We’ve all heard it – everyones got 24 hours in their day. Unfortunately exercise is not high on your list of values. Do you need to re-evaluate your values? Most likely… Typically I find most people are only motivated to create change when there is enough pain in their life to fire them into action. That is why people yo-yo all the time. They have not yet created a link between the discipline of regular activity and the long term pleasure of its benefits. We should all know the benefits of regular activity – move it or lose it.
9) “I’m just not motivated”
This one goes back to the WHY reasons and possibly deeper seeded lack of belief in the attainment of your goal. If you knew the sweet taste of success and truly believed in it’s attainment then your habits would most likely reflect that which you are trying to create. Go back to what emotions you are aiming to feel in achieving your fitness goal. Do you see yourself in those new jeans? Go there now. Does it feel good? Or is it empty? It feels good do it, if not re-assess your goal and find what feels good. You’ll most likely aim for more of that and work at it relentlessly…
I hope that something resonates with you at some level from these words and that this winter you remain consistent and persistent in the pursuit of your fitness and health related goals!