The clocks just fell back here in London and while we appreciated that extra hour of sleep on Sunday, the dark afternoons are already bringing us down… Since the time change is coming to the US soon, we thought we could all use some tips on how to keep motivation up and our fitness goals on track during the fall and winter months.
We know that the chilly temps and darker days up here in the Northern hemisphere make it a little harder to find the motivation to work out. Don’t worry if you’re struggling — nobody has the willpower to wake up inspired to go workout every single day. And you can’t expect yourself to! What it comes down to is making choices that will help you get to where you want to be.
But making good choices every day can be tiring. In fact, decision fatigue is a very real thing. When we’re confronted with so many micro-decisions over the course of the day it gets overwhelming, and then it becomes a lot easier to say “No” to things that are actually good for us.
Here’s an example: you wake up to a cold morning and you have to make the decision “should I work out now or sleep in a bit later”. And another one: you get out of work at 6pm and it’s fully dark outside, so you’re left to decide “should I head to that spin class or head home to get dinner started”. We know that it’s so much easier to decide to pass on exercise. Trust us, we’ve been there, too.
So how do you overcome that to keep up with your fitness routine and reach those goals? One way is to take away the decision making aspect. Instead, dial in your preparation so that your plan takes the reins when your motivation can’t.
Here are our top tips to make sure you actually get your workouts in (even when you’d rather be cuddled up on the couch)!
1. Plan it out… realistically
Ever heard the saying fail to prepare; prepare to fail? This is so true when it comes to winter workouts. Achieving any fitness goals relies on working out consistently, and to do that, you need to make a plan you can actually stick to.
If you’re always running around after your kids and rarely have time to get to the gym, don’t make a plan that requires you to lift weights in a gym four times a week. Pick workouts that fit your lifestyle, schedule, and interests, and don’t be afraid to adjust as needed — see flexibility with your plan as a strength, not a weakness.
Once you’ve made a plan, schedule your workouts in your calendar or planner and treat them like appointments you can’t miss. Take the decision fatigue out of the equation and don’t give yourself the opportunity to decide whether or not you’re going to work out — it’ll make a world of difference!
2. View your workout as self-care
We know you’re incredibly busy and with everything you have going on and everything you do for everyone else, how do you make time for yourself AND your fitness routine.
The answer: don’t make time for both — just combine them. Viewing your workouts as sacred time, just for you is not only a great way to get two things done at once — it adds a more powerful weight to your workout (no pun intended).
Exercise should be a time for you (and you alone) to connect with your body. Build a little relaxation into your workout to make the most of your self-care sweat session. During your cool down, combine your stretching with slow and steady guided breathing (you can try the breathing exercises in our app if you need some inspiration!). You’ll feel physically and mentally ready to tackle whatever else you have going on.
3. Switch things up
Crisp September days make us so excited to go for a run outside, but cold and dreary November evenings don’t have the same effect. You might love exercising outside when the weather is a bit friendlier, but if you hate cold weather, don’t force yourself to brave the elements!
You’ll be way more likely to stick with your workout plan if it’s something you don’t dread, so move your workout inside. Normally do a 30-minute run? Try a 20 minute HIIT session followed by some stretching and pelvic floor exercises instead (depending on your stage, of course).
It’s always a good idea to switch up workouts if you ever feel yourself in a rut or like you’re not being challenged. Try a new workout you’ve been wanting to do, or go back to an older routine you haven’t done in a while — the challenge will help revamp motivation (and keep your muscles guessing, too)!
4. Get a workout buddy
Accountability is a powerful thing, and sometimes, the most effective way to get yourself to the gym is knowing that your friend is there waiting for you. If you have a pal at a similar fitness level to you, try to schedule in at least one workout a week together, and make it fun: try a new class you’re both excited about or go for a run on some of your favorite trails.
But don’t worry: if you have a crazy busy schedule (or just prefer to work out alone), you and your friends can still keep each other accountable and motivated via text. Just the act of messaging a friend to let them know how your workout went (or sharing your Baby2Body workout progress!) will keep you inspired to stick to your plan. Supporting each other through it will keep you moving when the going gets tough.
5. Bottle the post-workout feeling
You know how after a great workout you feel pretty invincible? There’s nothing better than that feeling. But it’s pretty tough to remember when you’re snuggled up in your warm, cozy bed.
Next time you crush a great workout, try this: take a minute or two to write down how you feel in a journal or on sticky notes. Capture the feeling of how strong, satisfied, and joyful you feel, and try to write down the specifics why that workout was important to you.
Next time you’re struggling to motivate yourself, take a look at what you wrote and let your own words and reasons remind yourself why your workouts matter. There’s nothing more powerful than your own mantra and encouragement — claim that inspiration for yourself.
If you’re still struggling with motivation…
The biggest part of staying motivated is knowing (and embracing) the “why” that drives you. If you find you just can’t get yourself to work out, revisit your “why” for exercise. Why is your health and fitness important to you? Does it help you feel energized? Keep a clear mind? Keep up with your kids? Or de-stress after a long day? Does exercise help you be a better, more patient mom, and set a good example for your kids (or future kids)?
There are so many different “why’s”, and you may find that yours changes over time. That’s OK! Rather than dwelling over the struggle to stay motivated take a step back and give yourself a chance to revisit your “why”. Take some time to dive into what really matters to you, and use that to re-focus your workout motivation.
For personalized workout programs suited to your stage of pregnancy and motherhood (and plenty of motivational tips to keep you going strong!) be sure to download the Baby2Body app.