When the days turn to darkness earlier and the morning light takes longer to seep through the cracks in the curtains, it can be difficult to maintain your usual (summer) habits. Winter motivation isn’t easy. Waking up in the dark when your alarm goes off, leaving the warmth of the duvet and, then, toughest of all, getting to the gym…it’s a big ask!
Natural instincts vs winter motivation
Winter is a time of natural hibernation. It’s instinctive and sometimes it’s enough to really throw us off. Add in the usual antics of the party season: late nights, less nutrient dense food and less vitamin D than we’re accustomed to. This doesn’t mean you have to succumb to another winter of losing your way from a health and nutrition perspective!
We’re not living in the Stone Age where our circadian rhythm is our clock. We still have jobs, family commitments, friends and, ultimately, lives to live that don’t entirely revolve around the sun and the moon! Use this time to really work hard at dialling in your daily habits, regardless of mother nature’s light switch.
Keep it in perspective
Don’t allow the more frequent nights out (or in) to get the better of your overriding fitness and health goals. It is absolutely possible not to get thrown off by an extra night out, an extra mince pie (or two, or three…). Simply take time to reflect on how much you have achieved over the course of the year. Don’t allow anything to overwhelm those achievements or derail that year of good work.
Sleep, sleep and more sleep
Most importantly, aim for sleep consistency. Aim to go bed and wake up at the same time as much as you can. There are going to be days where this is totally unachievable but, even on these days, consider how much control of them do you have? If you can keep the sleep/wake time within one hour then you’re off to a really good start and won’t have to deal with much/any disturbance. If you do happen to get caught out, way out, then just do your best to resettle again. Don’t let it slip into every night being a late night, because then every morning becomes a painful, tired morning.
Turn your evening lights down or off before you head to bed. You’ve told your body it’s still summer by having them on when the sun has gone down, and it’s likely to respond by keeping you awake for as long as the lights are on. Get a head start by dimming them or turning them off an hour or so before you head to bed to sleep. This should help your body recognise that there isn’t much of the day left and sleep follows darkness. Your body should respond by releasing chemicals and neurotransmitters that help you to nod off.
Food, food and more food
Don’t let one ‘bad’ meal turn into a bad week. So you’ve got a few Christmas parties lined up. In fact, three could coincide in one week! That’s three lots of booze and food consumption plus the late nights. And then you‘re committed to Sunday lunch with the family too. Well, firstly, let’s accept that a scenario like this is certainly not going to take you forward in your health and fitness goals. Fear not though, taking some time out to relax and de-stress can still be vitally beneficial in terms of sustainable success in the long run. Just like we will include de-load workouts in our training, it’s ok to do this with our eating too.
Food can be a huge emotional investment. Those who are suddenly finding it difficult to stay on the straight and narrow may actually be overdue some social, emotional, eating TLC. But remember, this is not an excuse for an all-out month of eating crap. Keep all other meals planned which include dense, nutritional foods. Just be realistic and honest with yourself and accept that the 80/20 rule is perfectly acceptable this festive season.
Need help staying motivated?
If you need some extra guidance, tips or ideas on how to maintain your motivation during the winter period, then get in touch with your coach. Or if you’re in the Bishop’s Stortford area, get in touch with us at Lift Off Gym.