Fitness Hacks for Beating the Winter Doldrums

Everyone’s busy during the holidays. It’s easy to use that as an excuse to let your fitness routine slip. In reality, it’s more than just the holidays. It’s natural to be less motivated to go to the gym during the winter. The days are shorter, so whether you like to work out before or after work, it’s probably still or already dark when you’re heading to the gym. The weather’s cooler, even here in Southern California, so you’re wearing more clothing; those extra 5-10 pounds don’t seem like that big a problem right now. You can worry about being ready for the beach when you pack your sweaters in the back of the closet again.
Here’s the bottom line though. How bad do we want it? How important is fitness in our lives? If our answer is anything other than “not at all” we’ve got to make it a priority. We need to work out when we’re busy, when it’s dark and cold, when we’re not motivated. If we don’t push through, we’ll never reach our goals. With that in mind, here are three tips for making it through the holidays and the rest of the winter without going off the rails.

  1. Bodyweight exercises. You can create a whole work out with just exercises that you can do at home, without any special equipment. Do 20 bodyweight squats, 20 push-ups (from your knees if necessary), 20 lunges (10 each leg), 20 crunches, 20 plank-to-pushups (10 each side). If you want to add weight to the squats or lunges, find something around the house that weighs 10-15 pounds and isn’t too awkward to hold (a bowling ball is perfect if you have one). The whole workout probably takes about 30 minutes.
  2. Work hard, rest less. Too busy or unmotivated to get to the gym five days a week in the winter? Cut it down to three high-intensity workouts. Get out the timer and make sure your rest between sets doesn’t exceed 45 seconds. Superset exercises to fatigue your muscles faster. You’ll maintain your fitness level and get two extra days off from the gym.
  3. Add in a group class or some personal training sessions. It’s easy to talk yourself out of going to the gym when it’s just you and no one will ever know. Sign up for a group class or work out with a trainer once or twice a week. Working out with an instructor or trainer has a couple of benefits: first, you’re more likely to get there if you’ve committed to it; second, there is a time limit so you’ll work hard while you’re there, but you’ll only be there for an hour max. 

Time constraints are real. So are the motivational issues of the winter season, but if you are committed to staying fit you can overcome both obstacles with one of these tips. Wishing you a happy holiday and a healthy and prosperous new year!