Cold weather fitness motivation
Hands up who is full of motivation to workout when it’s cold outside? If I said winter fitness motivation what would you say? Send me some? Can I buy that online?! If you’re like, well, most people, feeling motivated to workout and generally just stay fit when it’s cold can be hard.
It can seem difficult, if not implausible to go and workout when it’s cold, dark, or it’s snowing (darn you Beast from the East!). You’ll know from the post I wrote on practical ways to win at your fitness resolutions. that there are many good, research backed ways why our resolutions fail and how to help stick to them. If you haven’t already, I’d love you to give them a read.
Back to motivation, consistency is key. It’s better all round to do little and often, rather than panic and push ourselves in an unhealthy way when it gets to an important event or the holidays. Because what happens after that? Yes, we fall spectacularly off the wagon because we’ve set an unmanageable standard, we haven’t formed healthy habits and we’re down, beaten and… unmotivated.
But, how the heck do you stay motivated to workout in the winter and when it’s cold and dark?
As you may know, I’ve had to have an enforced break after my unexpected emergency ventral hernia surgery. I could literally do nothing for a few weeks back there. I now have the all-clear and, then low and behold, the snow arrived!
This would be an easy time to just snuggle in and put it all off for another day, but I know it wouldn’t do my health or mental wellbeing any favours. Plus, when the summer arrives, I’ll be really bloody annoyed at myself when those first (likely unexpected) rays of sun arrive and it’s time to shed the layers of clothes! So, how do I get myself motivated and back on track? Let me share with you some great, practical things to help you stay motivated in the winter and cold that you might not have considered.
Thanks to my sister for her commitment to the cause in helping me with these pics that’s #fitfam goals right there!
1. Embrace the weather
Let’s face it, it’s not going to change, and if you’re in the UK, it’s going to be all 4 seasons in one day anyway! So, instead of seeing it an obstacle (and an excuse), work with it.
I actually love the crisp air for getting outside and being active:
- It’s easier to breath – the air just feels so much cleaner
- I don’t get as hot. I sweat when I workout (stop the press!). But, I mean, a lot! And during the summer exercising outside can leave me literally looking like a hot mess! But, when it’s colder I have the perfect cooling system which also helps me stay focused. It also means I don’t have to carry a towel around like I’m about to head into the ring!
If it’s not going to change, then we just have to change our mindset. Or, even take up a winter sport just to switch things up! Curling anyone?
2. Get your Vitamin D boost
Have you considered that you feel demotivated because your vitamin reserves are low? Getting out is great for our physical and mental health and has benefits when it comes to vitamin D. Why is vitamin D important? Well, Vitamin D is needed for healthy bones, teeth, and muscles and we get most of it from the action of the sun.
A lot of people feel more lethargic and less motivated and even seasonally depressed in the winter. Unexplained fatigue can be a symptom of many things, one of which is Vitamin D deficiency. So, get outside and increase those feel-good mood chemicals and top up that all-important vitamin D and you’ll find it hard not to feel energised and motivated to do it more!
Is there anything else we can do to get more vitamin D? We can increase our Vitamin D reserves through a small number of foods, like oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring and sardines, as well as red meat and eggs. Which is not ideal if you’re vegetarian or vegan! But, “the new advice from PHE is that adults and children over the age of one should consider taking a daily supplement containing 10mcg of vitamin D, particularly during autumn and winter.”
So, as we get most of our vitamin D is from the action of sunlight on our skin, it makes perfect sense to get outside as much as possible. Think about it, how much better do you feel when you’ve been outside even just for a walk to the shop or to run an errand? Especially when you really hadn’t wanted to!
There’s a lot to know about vitamin D – how we get it, how we store it, supplements and deficiencies, so please have a read up and consult your healthcare practitioner to be sure!
3. Wear it well
Get some new workout gear! Having something new to wear that you love is a great way to feel motivated. This is the fun bit for me. I love getting new sportswear. It’s probably my favourite thing to shop for. I’ll even go in store to do it (which is something I generally don’t do – I’m an online shopper!).
Not only is it fun, it’s totally justifiable – wearing the wrong footwear for what you’re doing, can cause injuries – so, we’re thinking safety first! These days there are seemingly endless ranges and ways to shop for great gear for all budgets and sizes, so there’s something for everyone.
I just love seeing what’s out there and this tracksuit is definitely out there and I’m obsessed. I can be quite reserved when it comes to day to day dressing, but I find it gives me a boost making more of a statement in my gym gear. The colours are bright enough to make me more visible in the dark and they make me smile, too!
Don’t let the thought of what to wear to workout ruin your motivation. Just wear what you feel comfortable in because, you know what, you care more than anyone else about what you’re wearing. Seriously. If you feel more comfortable more covered up, then do that. As long as you can move freely and comfortably, that’s the most important thing. I recommend high waisted leggings or trousers and longer line looser fitting tops over a sports bra work great too.
4. Get a track to suit
Speaking of tracksuits – get a track to suit! Music can be one of the best motivators and mood enhancers. The right track list can push you that step further and if you get the right beat for what you’re doing you can really enhance that workout and make you forget (kind of) what you’re actually doing. I have certain tracks I love for squats or for RPM/Spin type classes. If you’re looking for inspiration, there are loads of workout tracks for every mood and workout.
Spotify Top Workout Songs
- Eminem – “‘Till I Collapse”
- Kanye West – “POWER”
- Drake – “Jumpman”
- The Chainsmokers – “Closer”
- Calvin Harris – “This is What You Came For”
- Rihanna – “Work”
- Sia – “Cheap Thrills”
- The Weeknd – “Starboy”
- Beyoncé – “7/11”
- David Guetta – “Hey Mama”
5. Stretch Yourself
Get stretching! Especially when it’s cold! Stretching is a great way to improve your circulation and help you feel less sluggish and more motivated, so start your day with some stretches.
There are so many benefits to stretching and no workout or wellbeing plan is complete without it and stretching before and after any fitness routine is great for preventing injury. This is really important because there’s nothing like an injury to not only derail you but to knock your confidence and your workout motivation!
There’s also a reason why foam rolling (or self myofascial release (SMR)) has moved from the domain of athletes to something us mere mortals can do ourselves and really benefit from and why we’ve gone mad for our foamy friends. You can read up on the benefits of it and how to do it here.
So, look after your muscles and keep up the stretches and you’ll have less reason to use muscle pain as a reason not to work out.
6. Be Seen
You can do it via various apps these days, or share it on your social media profiles and if you don’t want to do that so publicly, there are lots of private and closed Facebook groups where you can find motivation and support.
What about setting up your own with friends to help motivate each other?
7. Head Indoors
It’s important to mix up your fitness routine to stay motivated. So, yes, make sure you get outside as often as possible, but it’s OK to mix it up and head indoors for part of your routine. This will help keep your routine consistent, diverse and, importantly, motivated.
There are lots of ways to stay fit at home and I’m very grateful for them as a single, working mum to a toddler. I commute to the bright lights of the city for work and when I’m home I’m being mum. Because getting to the gym isn’t easy, I do different things like power walking with ankle weights or taking long walks pushing the pram to get me outside. Great for me and great for B. Then I mix that in with Clubbercise and home workouts.
8. Ditch what you don't like
If you hate running, try walking fast with ankle weights. Hate lifting weights (I LOVE) start with body weight exercises. Hate long distances? Try HIIT.
Just try different things until you find something that you genuinely enjoy because that is the key to staying motivated. I’m really proud to say I recently qualified as a Clubbercise instructor. Within the first week of doing it (and changing nothing else) I felt more toned and also lost 2lbs. I can see the difference in my arms already and that’s just from waving my glowsticks! A typical class can burn 500 calories.
What I love is that it’s like a great party with your friends. If you feel self-conscious, it’s in the dark, with neon brights and glowsticks to guide you. All whilst dancing yourself fit to your favourite club songs from the 90s on. Literally clubbing without the hangover and you get fitter!
Alternatively, just use that thing you don’t like or don’t feel you’re good at as a challenge. Start small and reward yourself when you reach a milestone. I want to be able to do pull ups. I’ll start with aiming for 5. Then gradually increase it as the year goes on!
9. Fuel Your Fitness
Nothing is going to motivate you less than being hangry. Your body needs fuel. We all know that. It also needs more not less when we’re particularly active. But, more of the right things – water, protein, fats, carbs. Yes, we need those carbs. For weight loss we need to move more and eat less (less processed foods, unrefined sugars and saturated fats), but we still need to eat. And we need to fuel our bodies before during and after a workout. Supplements, BCAAs, Protein shakes, nuts are all great for this.
It’s important to know what your body needs and to modify your dietary intake to support what you’re doing. When it’s cold, you may well find you crave warm, hearty foods. As long as you’re choosing well and not missing food groups or taking too much on of one in particular, this isn’t a problem.
I always talk about it, but after 10 years of using it, My Fitness Pal is still my favourite way of making sure I am getting the right balance food wise for the activities I’m doing. And it’s still free!
We all know sleep has its benefits. That doesn’t mean we’re all getting enough, though. Being tired is one of the main reasons/excuses people give for not working out. Winter, cold weather and the darkness is definitely something that can add to that. I’m not the best sleeper, that is no secret. But, I do realise that sleeping badly not only affects my motivation to work out, it also affects my diet.
Working out in the morning is the way forward. It’s the opposite of sleep, I know! But, it all adds to that motivation, setting you up for the day and also helping you get into a routine and ultimately getting those all important sleep hours logged to keep you alert and motivated for everything else!
But, what if you can’t sleep? Well, exercising regularly will help this! I know the no-sleep struggle and I am with you. Being a mum to a toddler has meant I’ve been a stranger to sleep and, as a new mum, I exercised less – it was a vicious, sleep-deprived cycle.
I’ve found that getting active again has really helped. Alongside that, there are loads of free resources and tools these days to help you get to sleep naturally, like the Headspace app. But, don’t forget to look at why you’re not sleeping so you can help resolve it. If you’re stressed, try yoga, pilates, gardening, just getting outside! Exercise will help release those all important feel good and relaxing chemicals, so it’s well worth using that as motivation to get you out there – even if it is cold!
So, there we have it, 10 ways to stay motivated even when it’s cold outside! Hope you find them useful. Would love you to share if you’ve found them useful, or just pin to your Pinterest board for reference!
How do you stay motivated in the cold?