Winter Blues

Keep Getting Better….. 

Winter doesnt have to mean 5 – 10 extra pounds and 2 extra hours on the couch each day with a heavy case of winter blues. So what’s the key to keeping up with your goals? A solid plan. That never changes. But make some small changes to the plan to accomodate the season. 

Our bodies intuitively know what we need. Our bodies will crave root vegetables, warm soups and warm meals during the colder months. Many people eat less protien in the winter and more processed comfort food. Keep a food journal. Create a menu for the day or week and stick to it. Have a plan and stay on track. You can still add root vegetables and soups to your meals just keep it clean and minimally processed. But, keep track of protien and make sure you are still hitting your goals. Cold foods (yogurts, shakes, cheese, etc.), clean foods (bananas, other fruits, raw veggies, etc) arent as appealing in the winter but if its in your meal plan, keep it there through the winter. Consistently!  The first tip is dont make major changes to the way you eat. Keep the fruits, keep the clean protien.

Water, winter weather doesnt leave us as thirsty or as hot. However we need the same amount of water. Get a water bottle, set a goal, and drink it every day. No excuses. Space our your hydration throughout the day. If you drink all of your water in one hour of time you will not stay as hydrated. Drinking to stay hydrated and healthy means small amounts of water all day, every day. Dont wait until you feel thirsty, in the winter its much less likely to happen.

Activity levels also go down in the winter. We sit more. Its cold, it can be wet, the couch looks so comfy! But, the goal is to keep getting better. Pushing to be the best version of you, you can be! If you are all of a sudden stuck in a gym when you are ususally active outside you must find ways to keep moving with intention and not just go through the motions to “get it over with” and “punch the clock”. Thats how NOT to progress. Showing up but not working with intention and intensity will not deliver results. Show up, stay active AND keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone so you continue to make progress. 

Take the few sunny warm days we have and get outside. Maybe take up some new winter activities like skiing or snow shoeing. Walk more every day even around your house. Stand more. Stand at work, walk at work, park farther away from the store. 

On the days in the gym, think progressive overload. Your gym sesh doesnt have to be full of fancy quick complicated movements and exercises. What brings the best results? Simple, basic compound lifts with progressive overload. What does that mean? Push/Pull movements. Compound movements work multiple muscles at the same time, therefore delivering better, quicker results, and higher calorie burn. Here are my favorites. These are part of everyone’s program (unless an injury prevents). 

* Squats
* Lunges
* Deadlifts
* Pull Ups
* Push Ups
* Hip Thrusts
* Bench Press
* Overhead Press
* Dips

You dont need to get fancy or complicated. These are lifetime lifts. You never get too advanced for them.  Take the winter to work on perfecting form on these lifts you will use for the rest of your life.

The other necessary factor for change and success is pregressive overload (mentioned above). Every week you should try to increase your weight factor anywhere from 2-5lbs or 5% on each lift. Or, add more reps to the same weight factor. Which you choose depends on your goals and your training program. I can help you decide which is best if you are unsure. This is a long journey. It takes YEARS to build significant strength and recomp the body. 

After progressive overload for 8-10 weeks, incorporate a one week deload period. This can be lighter weights or just body weight. Again, it depends where you are and what your goals are. What a deload week is not is a week without exercise. Same program, lighter weights or body weight. Or alternate exercise of moderate intensity. 

Remember one day isnt going to make or break your progress. Whether its an extra rest day, an eating off your plan day, a lighter training day, a really bad training day when you just felt like you couldnt do it, or an outstanding day that you PR’ed every lift. What will break your progress is when that happens one day here, and one day there, over vacation, every weekend, etc. Its much easier to fall into the habit of taking days off and then starting over again, than it is to create that habit that brings you into that gym (or place of training) every day. Especially in the winter when motivation runs lower for everyone. But if you arent consistent you will not reach or maintain your goals. Consistency is the only thing that can make or break you. If you arent going to go all in, why even bother? If you consistency show up, commit and work hard youll reach your goals. If you consistently make an inconsistent commitment you will not. And winter makes it much easier to be consistently inconsistent.

So when motivation runs low (thanks winter!), discipline needs to kick in. Tell yourself youre doing it. Follow through. No excuses. You are the only one who can get it done. You know youll feel good after, even if you need to force yourself to start. 

Common Excuse:
Its too cold to leave the house to go to the gym.

Solution: Put your gym bag in the car and hit the gym on the way home from work or on the way too work. Or just go anyway even if its cold (Im not big on accepting excuses). Warm up your car and go.

Next one: The gym is boring. Im used to (fill in the blank….) * Hiking, Running outside, etc.

Solution: Pick up an indoor sport (raquet ball, basketball, boxing, etc)
Or join a group fitness class – Its fun! There are so many types.
Or just start going to the gym with a group of friends you hike with and it will be fun!
Or go to the gym and make new friends!
Or, my favorite, just tell yourself your doing it (going to the gym) and do it because you know you will develop a habit of going. Create a program that keeps you fit for your outdoor summer sport when the season rolls around again. That will give you some motivation. After a week youll enjoy it. There are so many options, so many forms of exercise, I am SURE you can find something you will be able to enjoy! Need some ideas, let me know!

Control your mindet. If you tell yourself its hard and it sucks, it will. If you tell yourself winter is an opportunity to get better, you will. That extra time you used to spend outside in the summer? Spend it in the gym. Work a little longer. Work a little harder. Its better than sitting on the couch. For 4 months, those of us in New England are stuck inside more. Im not going to be happy sitting on the couch. So, Im going to be in a rack under a bar instead.