Five helpful tips to stave off cold weather blues this winter
America is home to some of the most premiere athletes on earth. It is more or less unwritten in our Declaration of Independence that we are entitled to “life, liberty and the pursuit of the gym” (or something like that). If the nations of the world got together in a stereotypical high school classroom, America would unquestionably be the fast-talking jock that won’t shut up about her training schedule.
In this country, we go everywhere in sneakers and drink Gatorade like it’s water but tend to scurry into early hibernation at the barest whiff of the first cold front. While it is still November, the days are already getting shorter, the weather is noticeably chillier and in four short weeks, the fall semester will be — gasp — over.
Dec. 10 will be here before you know it, followed by a glorious break from school filled with plenty of comfort foods and nonstop holiday parties. Then, the ugly morning of Jan. 1 will rear its head and demand your finest New Year’s resolutions.
In the land of the free and home of the sporty, you have the right to remain jiggly, toned, weak or strong. But you should know every workout you miss can and will be used against you.
The crux of this issue is motivation. Though it is so much easier to curl up on the couch with a mug of tea rather than work up a sweat, you will only be that much happier, healthier and more confident in all you do if you embrace the situation with a positive mindset.
Warm up Wisely
Regardless of the type of workout you choose, whether you are indoors or out, you need to increase the amount of time you spend on warm-up exercises during winter months to prevent sprains and strains. Not warming up before a workout can shock your body and increase your chances of injury, since it is colder outside and your muscles are simply tighter during the winter. Static stretches, upper body twists, squats, jumping jacks and jogging are all good ways to get your blood flowing.
Dress the Part
The clothes make the man, and quality athletic apparel makes your job easier. We’ve all heard the excuse before: “By the time I get home and change for the gym, I’ll have no time to go before class.” By getting dressed in gym clothes the minute you wake up, you’ll have no reason not to head straight there after a long day of classes. Not to mention, you’ll also save that cute outfit for an event that will allow you to actually show it off. If you’ve been exercising in the same old sweatshirt and sweatpants forever, now is the time to treat yourself. Your body is literally fighting the elements to keep warm, so suit up with a new moisture-wicking jacket or cool sneakers to keep yourself motivated.
Pack Snacks and Stay Hydrated
Sipping cold water before you exercise doesn’t sound like fun, but you will get warm once you kick your workout into high gear. Hydration is the necessary ingredient that will keep you going. Bring a water bottle along for your run or take breaks at the gym to stay quenched. To prevent letting that workout go to waste, you can pack granola bars, protein bars or fruit or trail mix to keep you from indulging in that tempting pastry after a stressful day.
Go in the Morning
This step may be the most challenging but will bring the most reward. Freezing, dark and miserable best describe the outdoors around dinnertime, so it’s no wonder you have convinced yourself to seek refuge on your couch. However, if your reluctance to work out has turned your exercise schedule from regular to nonexistent, now is the time to switch your exercise from night to morning. The sunshine, fresh air and morning burst of endorphins will wake you up the right way and have you cruising for the rest of the day, keeping you excited about sticking to your new cycle.
Get a Workout Wingman
Training with a buddy is one of the best ways to intensify accountability while simultaneously forcing an increased level of effort in your training. Working out with someone else, whether a friend or personal trainer, will make you stick to your schedule and have that much more fun through the hard days of snow, cold and ice.
Don’t be intimidated, but rise to the challenge because the glass is truly half full. Take charge of your workout routine now, so you won’t have to pledge your soul and firstborn child to getting fit “for real” in 2015. Use these five ideas to keep you on track well through the seasonal blizzard blues.