How to Find Your Winter Workout Motivation

You know the feeling. It’s cold and dark out and it seems like a much better idea to stay under your warm cozy blanket rather than workout. Even worse there are holiday parties with lots of comfort foods. SO MANY PARTIES. Winter is a busy time for most with shopping, family events, and everything in between. Many people, like me, also experience depression in the winter due to lack of sunlight and less time outdoors. For all of these reasons, exercise may get pushed to the side and ignored along with your healthy eating plan. This article will explain how to find your winter workout motivation.

The Benefits of Working Out in the Winter

The truth is that exercise should be made a priority in the winter. Exercise can help you decrease stress, lift your mood,  and keep your immune system strong. Exercising outside in the cold weather has also been found to strengthen your heart, help you get much needed Vitamin D, and help you feel more energized. 

What happens when you take a break from working out?

Researchers from NYU Langone Medical Center found that within about two weeks of inactivity, aerobic conditioning starts to noticeably decline. It was noted that for some it can even start as soon as 10 days from the cessation of exercise. When it comes to strength training, a study published in Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise found that you may see a loss in strength after four weeks of inactivity. Losing muscle mass will vary based on your age, gender, and your beginning muscle mass. I know that I had to drop my weights a bit after a two week break. It didn’t take long to recover, but I know I told myself not to take time off from strength training again.

If you skip your regular workouts during the winter season you may be losing all of that progress you work so hard for during the rest of the year.

Tips to Stay Motivated During the Cold Winter Months

1. Join or Start an Accountability Group

One of the best ways to stay on track to better health and boost your workout motivation is to join or start an accountability group.  The American Society of Training and Development found that people are 65 percent more likely to meet a goal after committing to another person. Their chances of success increase to 95 percent when they build in ongoing meetings with their partners to check in on their progress.

Having another person to regularly remind you of your fitness goals and urge you to continue working hard can make a huge difference in your long-term success.

There are so many ways to be part of an accountability group. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
  • One-one-one buddy system. Pair up with a friend that is reliable and will hold you accountable. Studies show that you will work out longer with a friend and will put more effort into working out (due to the friendly competition). Looking forward to seeing a friend is also a great way to get you to the gym. 
  • Small group. This can be a group of people who generally workout at the same time and place, like a class at a gym. This is also great for walkers or runners or any group of fitness-minded friends. I usually workout at home, but I love going to my weekly yoga class. There’s something about practicing yoga with a group of like-minded people that raises my energy and helps me to feel part of a community.  I actually met someone who wanted to talk about health geek things like making green juice (so happy!). 
  • Facebook challenge groups. Another great way to be part of a group is through social media. It is so easy to start a challenge group using facebook. Just click “create a group” and then add all of your accountability friends. I find that this works best for me since I usually workout at home. I can work out early in the morning since that is when it fits best into my day and then I can check in with my facebook accountability group.
  • Beachbody Challenge Groups. If you love Beachbody workouts as much as I do then online fitness groups ran by coaches are also a great way to be supported and challenged. Also, after you complete a Beachbody program you can share your success story to receive a free t-shirt and be entered in a contest to win cash.  Pretty awesome. I am completing my second round of LIIFT4 and loving it!
  • Be Fitbit buddies. If your goal is to be more active and get 10,000 steps or more each day then a Fitbit challenge group is a great idea. I am part of a ‘Workweek Hustle’ group and we all compete with our steps. Just the simple accountability of seeing each other’s progress gives us incentive. If you’d like to be added to my group just let me know if the comments below!
Tips for a Successful Accountability Group
  • Pick a discrete and measurable goal. It’s important that you define your goals and set them up so that they can be easily tracked. For example, “exercise more” is very objective. A clearly defined, trackable goal would be “exercise for 45 minutes, four times per week”.  If your goal is to “eat healthier” you could make a goal of “eat five servings of vegetables each day”. For each of these goals you can then mark on a calendar each time you complete these tasks each day. Tracking your progress is a great reminder of your ability to do hard things and reach your goals.  The more personal and the more you own your goals the better.

Tracking your progress is a great reminder of your ability to do hard things and reach your goals.

  • Groups work best when people feel connected. The closer together the group feels, the more likely it is that the individuals will achieve. Groups where everyone simply checks in once a week aren’t going to be as motivational as personal check-ins each day where you are sharing your struggles and success. 
You can do hard things

2. Sign up For a Competition or Race

Races are amazing workout motivators. They bring a deeper meaning to the activity and there is a defined goal, whether it’s to walk or run a 5k, half-marathon, or more. When my daughter was about six months old I started training for a half-marathon. I knew that running and movement outside was something that I needed at that time (more mentally than physically).  I signed up for the Air Force Half-Marathon and then almost panicked because it was six months away and what was I thinking?! But I came up with a training plan and joined the Dayton Children’s Hospital team. Their theme that year was “I Run for Kids Who Can’t”.  This race and running for kids definitely got me out the door to run and train. 

There are so many types of races, obstacle courses, and competitions that you can find something that you would love to train for. There are tons of family-friendly holiday-themed running events in most areas like a Turkey Trot or a Jingle Bell Run. Active.com is a great site to visit to find races in your area.

Finish Line of the Air Force Marathon with my Daughter

3. Create a Rewards Program

Create a workout log and have a reward attached to hitting a certain goal, whether it be exercising at least 30 minutes each day, completing a training program, or increasing your weights. Just make sure that it is a goal that is measurable and meaningful to you. Then celebrate! Get some new workout clothes, take yourself out for a movie, get a massage, buy a new water bottle, or get a new book and actually make time to relax and read it. Celebrate and then set your next goal!

4. Prepare and Visualize at Night

If you have a workout planned in the morning try sleeping in your workout clothes. It’s one less step, and one less excuse, to getting your self to workout in the morning. I also set my coffee maker on auto, which is another incentive for me to get out of bed and get downstairs. Coffee first!

Before falling asleep at night it also helps to visualize yourself getting up and exercising in the morning. Research has found that mental imagery impacts many cognitive processes including motor control, planning, attention, and memory. It’s been found that mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence, and prime yourself for success.

Mental practices can enhance motivation, increase confidence, and prime yourself for success.

Begin by establishing your goal. Imagine the future; you have already achieved your goal. Hold a mental ‘picture’ of it as if it were occurring to you right at that moment. Imagine the scene in as much detail as possible. Practice at night or in the morning (just before/after sleep). Eliminate any doubts, if they come to you. Repeat this practice often. Combine with meditation or an affirmation (ex. “I am determined, I am strong”).

5. Layer up for Winter Weather

The secret to dressing for winter weather is to wear several layers to regulate heat and moisture and then take them off as you get warm. It helps if the layer closest to your body is made of wicking material that draws moisture away from your skin. Another good rule to follow is to dress as if it’s 20 degrees warmer, so you should be slightly cool when you start. I usually wear a long sleeve wicking shirt, a lightweight jacket, gloves, a hat, and long running leggings or pants that I can tuck into my socks (snow up your pants while running is not fun, unless you like freezing ankles). 

With limited daylight you may be running in the dark. To stay safe make sure to wear reflective, fluorescent gear, and wear a safety light. You will feel like a superhero flashing through the dark.

After your outdoor workout make sure to change your clothes as soon as possible to avoid a case of the chills. Also, make sure to get your electrolytes in after your workout. 

6. Do More in Less Time

With a busy holiday schedule, it may be helpful to break up your exercise into shorter bursts. Interval training is extremely time-efficient and can produce health benefits similar to twice as much moderate-intensity exercise. HIIT involves short bursts of intense exercise alternated with low-intensity recovery periods. The actual activity being performed varies but can include sprinting, biking, jump rope or other body weight exercises. An app that I love for HIIT workouts is the 12 Minute Athlete. It gives you quick, intense workouts with little or no equipment.

Down Dog App

An app that I love for yoga is Down Dog. It provides a studio-like yoga experience that you can do whether you are a beginner or advanced. You can practice for as little as 10 minutes or up to 90 minutes. You can also choose between quick flow, full practice, no flow, or restorative. It always gives you a new workout and the music is always perfect. Love it!

Beachbody also has a great variety of workouts that will fit into your schedule. I am completing my second round of LIIFT4 which is a four a day a week program that incorporates weightlifting and high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The workouts are 30 to 39 minutes each and you really get a great workout. There are built in “rest” days, so you can take days off or use those days to do other activities you enjoy (I usually do yoga or walk on days off). 

In summary, you can do this! Stay motivated by:

  1. Joining or starting an accountability group
  2. Sign up for a competition or race
  3. Create a rewards program
  4. Prepare and visualize for success
  5. Layer up for winter weather
  6. Do more in less time

Make your workouts and your health a priority. You deserve to be healthy!

How will you choose to stay motivated? Let me know in the comments! Please take a second and share this! I appreciate your support!

Wishing you tons of goodness, 

Kat

*This post may contain affiliate links. I only recommend products that I use and love myself!

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