Ok, now it’s dark at 5:00 pm thanks to Daylight Savings Time expiring for most of the country. It’s getting cold and you are having some trouble finding the energy to get up and go for your workout routine.
No more bathing suits at the pool to keep you motivated. Now, you just want to stay covered up in bed and keep snoozing away. And the worst part – here come the holidays! The huge meals, the buffets, the parties, the drinking…
How are you going to stay motivated?
Psychologist Dr. Jim Taylor offers these nine pointers for you to keep moving (or get moving) even during the cold, dark days of winter.
Taylor is a specialist and consultant in many aspects of sports, from the recreational “jogger mom” to the world’s most elite athletes. He has written extensively about the psychology of sports, business and parenting.
Here are his tips:
- Find something fun – since the sidewalks may be slushy and the gyms are full, find an activity you’ll enjoy like joining a sports league such as indoor soccer or volleyball. Join a class such as yoga, aerobics or a new kind of dance. Learn a new sport like squash or racquetball.
- Find a friend – getting motivated as a team can be much more successful for both of you. You have someone to talk to while you work out, to keep you motivated or at the very least, Taylor says, to commiserate with about how cold and dark it really is. If you commit to a workout with someone else, it’s not as easy to hit the snooze button and skip the workout.
- Set a goal – maybe it’s to lose weight, lift a heavier weight or compete in an up-coming event such as a race or a tournament. Having something to work toward is a greater motivator. “You need a darned good reason to work out during the winter and ‘general health and fitness’ is perhaps too nebulous to get you going,” writes Taylor.
- Get out of your head – Taylor says the hardest part of working out is actually the simple thought of doing it – as opposed to that activity itself. He says rarely is it as bad as you think it will be, but you can really hinder your motivation when all you think about is how sweaty and tired you’re going to feel. Instead, he says, think about how great you’ll feel when you’re finished, how much energy you’ll have and how you’re getting closer to that goal you set.
- Stick to a schedule – You need to set a specific time to work out as opposed to trying to make it fit into your life, because it won’t. Otherwise, you’ll find you are too tired, busy or stressed to find time. Taylor says to make sure you don’t over-schedule yourself and make sure it’s convenient – such as on the way home from work. Think about it like eating or showering – you’re not going to skip those, right?
- Everything in moderation – and that’s not just for exercising. Taylor says during this season of parties, open bars, buffets and big meals, make sure you don’t over eat, drink too much or stay out too late because you will definitely be more likely to skip your workouts when you’re tired or hung over. Restrain yourself at the buffet or bar – just because it’s free doesn’t mean you need to go crazy. Also, you don’t need to be the last one out the door of a party – have fun but get home in time to get a good night’s rest.
- Setbacks happen – it’s not the end of the world if you decide to sleep in; just don’t let that ruin your motivation forever. One day is ok. Taylor says the most important thing is to be consistent and know it’s just one day – you’ll get back at it tomorrow. Recommit.
- Exercise before and after you indulge – use the event to help motivate you to work out. Go before you attend so you can enjoy your time, knowing what you’ve already accomplished. Then work out afterwards (or the next morning) to make sure you stay on track.
- It’s ok to live a little – it is the holidays, after all. Time with family and friends is also good for you. Just know you may exercise a little less and eat a little more but if you follow the other tips above, you’ll get right back at it soon enough.
Finally, Taylor points out feeling a little blue in the winter is very common. There is even a psychiatric designation called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) associated with these feelings.
Taylor says about half a million people a year are affected by SAD and the vast majority are women. Symptoms include lethargy, sleepiness, weight gain and craving comfort foods. The good news is that SAD only happens seasonally and goes away as soon as spring returns. If you cannot shake the feelings, though, Taylor recommends seeking professional help.
About Dr. Jim Taylor
(from his website) Dr. Jim Taylor is internationally recognized for his work in the psychology of performance in business, parenting, and sport.
Dr. Taylor is the author or lead editor of ten books, including Positive Pushing: How to Raise a Successful and Happy Child, Your Children are Under Attack: How Popular Culture is Destroying Your Kids’ Values, and How You Can Protect Them, The Triathlete’s Guide to Mental Training, and Applied Sport Psychology: Four Perspectives, the Prime Sport book series, Psychology of Dance, Psychological Approaches for Sports Injury Rehabilitation, and Comprehensive Sports Injury Management.
Learn more about Dr. Taylor and his work at www.drjimtaylor.com. ]]>