Anyway, earlier this week, I hosted a Twitter chat with EnergyBits. I love hosting these chats. They are a great way to "meet" new people and pick up a few tips on whatever the topic may be. This week, we talked about staying motivated to workout in the winter. While we focused primarily on winter workout motivation, a lot of these tips can help at any time of the year. We all have motivation issues from time to time, even me. Believe it or not, winter in SoCal is hard too. While we don't have the cold issues, the days are still short and heading out for an early-morning or after-work run will leave you in the dark. What's even more ridiculous is that we're experiencing Santa Ana conditions right now. What does that mean? It's ridiculously hot, dry and windy. Yesterday the temp got up to 88, it was dry as a bone and the winds were 40-50mph at times. All that wind is kicking up a lot of pollen and other allergens, which is making it hard to breathe for everyone, not just allergy sufferers. Plus, we're just not used to this heat (it is February, after all) and things just seem more difficult. Runs have sucked this week for all the above reasons. So we SoCalers are having issues too. Which is why I thought it would be helpful to compile all the different tips and tricks we discussed in our chat. Hopefully some of you can pick up a new trick or two and stay on track through the winter. If you're here from the Tuesdays on the Run link up hosted by My No-Guilt Life, MCM Mama Runs and Run the Great Wide Somewhere, welcome! Be sure to check out all the linkup bloggers here.
1. Take your workout indoors. The number 1 reason most people don't stick to their workout plans in the winter (at least according to our tweet chat participants) was the weather. The cold temps, unsafe conditions outside due to snow and the decreased daylight were all reasons for falling off the workout wagon. If possible, take the workout indoors. If you're lucky enough to have a treadmill, bike, elliptical or other machine at home, use it. If you belong to a gym, go to it. Another option is doing some strength training routines, yoga, Pilates or other indoor workout that allows you to work up a sweat. While it may not be your sport of choice, at least you're moving. There are tons of subscription workout sites now, such as YogaToday, YogaGlo, DailyBurn and more. You can also stream or rent workout DVDs from Netflix or Amazon Prime Instant Video. Your own cable company may have some exercise videos or shows on demand. And for the old schoolers here, the library is also a great place to get workout DVDs. There are also several apps you can download for workouts such as the Nike+ Training app, FitStar, the 7-minute workout challenge and Yoga Studio. Some are free with in-app purchases, some have subscriptions and others you buy outright. Regardless, the winter months are a perfect time to try a new activity, especially if you can't workout outside the way you'd like.
2. Sign up for a race or other event. A great motivator is having something to train for. This goes back to setting goals for yourself as having realistic and attainable goals is the main predictor of your success. In fact, having races on my calendar is something I do to keep me motivated to log hundreds of miles each year. Having a race or other event on the calendar is a constant reminder to keep moving. And the financial commitment of paying for the race helps too. Take it a step further and tell people you've signed up for the race. This will keep you accountable. Trust me, when your friends and family ask you about your training, you're not going to want to admit you haven't been training. I recommend having a race every 3 months or so if you're new to racing. This way you have an ample amount of time to train and recover before the next one. Sure, you can do more than that, just be careful not to go crazy so you can avoid getting injured, burned out, or both.
3. Stay on top of your nutrition. One of the reasons given for lack of motivation was eating badly. Eating badly makes us feel like crap and can take away the desire to be active. Try to stay on top of eating well in the winter months. Eating whole, minimally processed foods will give you more energy and help you feel great throughout the day. When you feel good, you'll be more inclined to exercise. This doesn't mean go on a diet or cleanse (ugh!), it means eat real food all the time. It's the processed junk that causes all the issues and without it, you wouldn't need to diet or go on a cleanse. Just eat real food that doesn't come in a box and you'll be ok.
4. Enlist your friends. Having someone to workout with is a lifesaver. Just like having an appointment to go to the doctor forces you to actually go, having an appointment with a friend to go to the gym, run outside in the cold or to come over and do a workout with you at home, will keep you moving. Knowing someone is waiting for you will give you that extra kick to get out of bed. If you don't have anyone that wants to join you, consider joining a running group, a new yoga studio or take a look at Meetup.com for groups doing the things you like in your area. If you're not able to join a local group or meet anyone in your area, consider joining an online forum for like-minded fitness folks. Sites like DailyMile, which is like the Facebook and Twitter for athletes, can help you connect with people all over the world. Pretty soon you'll have virtual training buddies that ask you about your workouts, wonder where you've been if you haven't posted in a while and will cheer you on when you need it most. And if online groups aren't your thing, simply ask some friends to text you every now and then asking about your workouts.
5. Remind yourself of why you started. Some of you may have started on your road to fitness because you wanted to lose weight, you wanted to try something new, you need to out run health issues in your family, you want to keep up with your kids, etc. Ask 100 people what their reason is, you'll get 100 different ones. Whatever your reason is for starting, remind yourself of it daily. Especially in times when motivation is lacking. One tweet chat participant said she keeps old photos of herself on her phone so she can remind herself of what she used to look like before she lost weight from running. I like to write my reasons down and look at them from time to time so I can remind myself that my training is much more than logging miles and finishing races. It's about keeping my health in check. There are a lot of health conditions in my family that are chasing me down and if I can prolong and hopefully prevent them from catching up, I'll be a happy girl. But I also run so I can have the energy to get through my day, play with my kids, sleep well at night (which is a constant struggle), see my friends, and do something for myself. In addition to writing my reasons down, I do have my training log that I look at a lot. I even graph my mileage (don't judge me). And when motivation is lacking, reminding myself of how far I've come helps to keep me going further.
If you find yourself having motivation issues now or at any other time, try the above tips and see which one works the best for you to help stay on track. Try something new. Google search new workouts. Read through some new books for inspiration (such as The Skinny Confidential which you can win in our giveaway!). Whatever you do, don't give up!
What are some of the ways you stay motivated during the winter or at any other times? If a friend was having motivation troubles, what would you tell them?