If you're anything like me, then as soon as the temperature begins to drop, the motivation to keep training goes into a deep freeze and soon enough the jeans that were lose over summer become tighter and you find yourself making excuses for your extra bit of 'winter weight'. Well this winter, why not try to put a stop to that by making some simple changes to the program? Now if you're a member of a gym then these tips may still apply, but those places have heaters so suck it up and get on with it, but for those of us who have to brave the morning frost in order to get the miles in, here are my top 5 tips that will hopefully keep the cool weather calories from getting the best of you this winter.
1 – Prepare – When you know you have to be up at 5am in the cold and the dark in order to get a training session in then you know that it's going to be a hard slog ripping yourself from the cosy comforts of the doona so make life a little easier for yourself by getting your kit ready the night before? I know it sounds a little childish to have your clothes all laid out ready but rather than stumbling around in the dark for 10 minutes in the cold air looking for your socks or gym shorts, you can be straight up and dressed before your brain has had time to begin trying to talk you out of it. Another tip that I've done before is sleeping in your workout gear or having it under the doona with you so that when you wake up you're ready to go and the kicker is that you'll carry some of that doona warmth with you (at least until the end of the driveway).
2 – Eat Well – Pretty simple tip this one. With the cold weather comes shorter days and therefore the opportunities to exercise become more limited, so during winter, more than ever it is important to make sure you're eating the right things. Now this doesn't mean missing out on all the things that we love about winter like the hot meals and drinks etc. but it is important to keep an eye on your portion sizes and to make healthy decisions wherever possible. One simple change you can make is to substitute your morning coffee for a green tea instead. It's got all the caffeine of your coffee but with a fraction of the calories and as a bonus there are antioxidants in green tea that actually help speed your metabolism so you're getting a workout as well as a caffeine boost.
3 – Indoor workouts – If you've got furniture in your house, then you've got a gym, and even if you don't have furniture, there are a wide variety of workouts that you can do at home that require little or no equipment at all. Things like push-ups, sit-ups, squats, lunges and other ab exercises can all be done without any equipment at all and throw a chair in and you can do dips, decline and incline push-ups, step ups and bench lunges. The trick is to be creative with what you've got. If you have some heavy old books then why not use them as weights while you do lunges up and down the hall? Or why not do sprint sets up and down the stairs? The bottom line is that there are a stack of things you can do with limited space that also mean that you don't need to brave the icy streets. This can be done at work as well, why not turn the office stairwell into a bootcamp session before or after work? If your workmates are anything like mine then just a little smack talk will have them lining up to train/race with you every day of the week. Just remember though, staying inside does not mean slackening off, drag the partner out of bed as well if that helps you stay on track or get some music going to help you focus on results. For more ideas about different exercises you can do with limited or no equipment speak to a fitness professional or just a simple google search will give you plenty of ideas.
4 – Incidental Exercise – Now this can make a massive difference for those people who are only just beginning to get back into exercise because it's the little things that you don't notice but still give you a bit more of a workout than normal. These are simple changes that everyone can make straight away that put that little bit more activity into your day. Things like taking the stairs rather than the elevator, hopping off the bus one or two stops earlier and walking the rest of the way, or why not have walking meetings? If it's just a quick catch up with a colleague why not bust out some laps of the office or down the street and back rather than sitting at a desk? Another simple one that helps to maintain an active core and great posture is to trade your office chair in for an exercise ball, most of the big stores sell them now for around $20 but have a chat to the boss, the company might even buy it for you. The best thing about the exercise ball is that you've not only instantly improved your posture and core strength, but you've got 1001 different exercises that you can use them for.
5 – Become a Weekend Warrior – Right, so it's colder and the days are shorter, so there's less time to get out amongst it during the week. This is the time of year that the weekend warrior really needs to shine. Do yourself a favour and have a sleep in, wait until the temperature is a little more reasonable, and then get out there and smash it. During the colder months the weekend is when I get my good workouts in. There's really no excuse for this one, you've got two whole days off to do whatever you want so why not use them to help maintain the body that you worked all summer to get? But this doesn't have to mean doing the same old boring run or bike ride or whatever. Spend just 5 minutes on this website and you'll come up with some great ideas for bushwalks or group exercise activities that are going on all the time around town but if you're after a little more adventure in your exercise plans, then check this out for some different heart pumping activities that you can do right here in Brisbane.
The most important thing to remember when doing any form of exercise is to always work within your limits, speak to professionals about the best meal and training plans for you and set yourself some goals. But, whether you're training for fitness or for the next big race, don't let the low temperatures of winter slow you down. Be smart about your approach and make the most of the time and space that you have and by the time summer rolls around again you'll be looking and feeling like a champion and you'll enjoy the warmth all the more. Now drop and give me 20!