I don’t know about you, but I’ve been struggling on the exercise front lately.
Last week I had a long weekend and totally bossed (am I cool enough to use that word? Should anyone use that word?!) my fitness plan: 10k(ish!) run on Saturday, swimtervals on Sunday and a 10k+ coastal walk on Monday (update coming soon).
But after that? Well, the temperature dropped dramatically and my usual weekday evening exercise regime (gym, kettlebells/abs, hot yoga) flew straight out of the window.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying sheer laziness hasn’t played a part in my inactivity, but I reckon the turn of the season has also been taking its toll.
Every morning I notice more people sitting on the train with a tissue packet in tow, and I’m among the few commuters left still attempting to stay warm in a light leather jacket. I’m seeing more hats bobbing up and down in the London crowds and fewer bespectacled sunglasses wearers. And the smell of hot soup coming from the cafés at lunchtimes is becoming more and more appealing. Plus, this weekend the clocks go back. If that doesn’t indicate that winter is here, then the fact I’m getting a flu jab next week definitely does!
So why is winter putting me off doing exercise? Well, it’s dark in the mornings and in the evenings, so I’m getting less energy-boosting vitamin D going to and from work. Also, my body seems to associate sunset with sleeping, so soon I’ll be about ready to don a onesie at 4.30pm!
Not only that, but it’s getting really cold, and when you emerge from a sweaty gym session onto a cold, dark street that’s hard. It’s also really hard to pack a weekday rucksack for that type of temperature change. I need a small suitcase to accommodate joggers and long sleeves for the gym as well as jumpers and boots for work!
Finally, I’m pretty sure my body sees fat as an extra layer during winter, so the chances of my brain sending it cravings for a light lunchtime salad are slim – or at least slimmer than I’m likely to be between the months of November to February! In the winter it’s usually carb-fuelling with soups and bread rolls, pies and stews, followed by something sweet – and don’t even get me started on the drinking in the evening (I’m talking hot chocolate, obviously!)
So, knowing full well that I turn into an exercise wuss when winter arrives, how am I going to keep moving forward fitness-wise when the clocks go back?
- Get enough vitamin D. I’ll be trying to take regular lunchtime walks to make the most of the daylight, and boost my energy levels for an evening workout session.
- Get enough good-quality sleep. And by that, I don’t mean napping during the day. I mean good-quality, restful sleep – the kind that only comes with winding down before bedtime, not checking Facebook right before my head hits the pillow! I’ve got a ton of good books I’ve been meaning to read, so I’ll be spending more time out with them to help me drift off and less time with my mobile or the TV.
- Get enough balance in my diet. While I’d love for winter to be an excuse to eat stupid amounts of carbs, it’s really, really not! I’ll be planning my meals carefully to make sure I get a good mix of food types throughout the week to give me the optimum amount of energy I need. I’ll make sure I share any winter meal planning tips with you along the way too!
- Get out the winter workout kit. My knee-length running tights aren’t going to last much longer, so soon I know I’ll need to switch to a pair of full-length leggings, as well as some winter layers. I usually buy winter fitness clothes for running, because the extra layers are good to put on after a gym session as well. I have a long-sleeved base layer from Asics, a reflective pink running jacket from Ronhill and some sweat-wicking gloves with a matching black headband (I can’t exercise in hats, my hair gets way too sweaty). I’ll have to post some winter workout Instagram selfies so you can see how they look!
- Get ready for a week off. It’s inevitable – in the winter I will get at least one cold that will put me out of action for at least a few days. Last year, I stupidly tried to exercise through it. Take it from me, if you feel a sniffle coming on, just give yourself a rest. If you try to keep exercising through an illness you’ll just end up making it last longer. It really is OK to take a week off here and there and, this year, I’m going to exercise expecting to have to do that. And you know what? When the time comes for me to take a fitness time out, I’m not going to feel bad about it either!
How do you keep going when winter comes around? Share your tips in the comments or via @Rinroad on Twitter.