#30: Staying Motivated in the Colder Months

When the thought of taking a shower gives you the chills

Lovely fall, magical end to the heat of summer. Smells of burning wood seem to come out of nowhere. And thoughts of warm bowls of chili, oversized sweatshirts, and couch time start sneaking in.

So how can you stay motivated to exercise in the chillier months? Usually when you are leaving for your exercise class the sun is still up, but now it’s getting dark and your sofa is beckoning. It is hard to keep it up! It is! But you must! Here are some ideas to help you make it through the colder months:

1. Try something new! You don’t have to give up your gym membership—just add one new thing to your weekly workout schedule. Maybe there’s a Zumba class you’ve been thinking of trying, or a Groupon for a kettlebell class down the street. Or maybe you want to pick a new Tuesday night activity every two months! Spice up your routine by changing up one thing, and I guarantee you’ll be inspired the rest of the week.

2. Work out with a friend. It’s been said and said again, but there’s a reason for it—for some people, at least, it works! When you are held accountable by someone, you are much more likely to show up. I used to do a (very early) morning walk with a neighbor twice a week, and many times I wanted to stay in bed, but how horrible would it be if I stood up someone standing in the cold on a dark wintry morning? I always got up.

3. Shift your schedule. Maybe it’s just too depressing to leave work in the dark and head to the gym when all you really want to do is curl up under a blanket and sip hot soup. Instead of taking your gym bag for a joy ride in the car every day, acknowledge the fact that the evening workout is just not happening anymore. Review your schedule and see where changes can be made. Don’t say you’re not a morning person till you’ve tried it for two weeks. Morning workouts could be your new thing.

4. Work out at home. This one won’t work for everyone, and you know who you are. But if you’re the sort who will finish what you start, read on. There are thousands of workout DVDs out there, many as accessible as your Netflix queue. I’m not a huge fan of people exercising without supervision, so I suggest this one with a note of caution, but if you’re just not likely to leave your house to work out in the dark or cold, an exercise video is certainly preferable to all-out hibernation.

There are many lovely things about the cold of winter and how it forces us to keep cozy indoors. Maybe you get more sleep, or spend more time with your family. Maybe you cook more, and eat out less. In terms of exercise, remind yourself that once you get started you’ll be warm—and that come spring, you’ll be able to shed your sweaters and proudly show off your toned body!