It’s officially the dead of winter. If you’re not careful, February in Montreal can freeze you from the inside out. With temperatures ranging from minus 20 to minus 30 degrees Celsius, it can be hard to stay focused on your fitness goals. When most forms of life are hibernating, the idea of waking up early and heading out in the dark to workout can be overwhelming. February is also notorious for seasonal depression and the abandoning of well meaning New Years resolutions.
So how does one beat the winter blues and stay on track during this difficult time of year?
1. Get more SLEEP!
As parents we are keen to put our kids to bed early but we rarely follow our own advice. Children are living proof that getting enough sleep is the key to waking up happy and perky. Yet adults will stay up late watching hours of mind numbing television or surfing the net for no good reason. We tend to say that we are relaxing but this type of “relaxing” actually make us feel worse the next day. We have all heard of the recommended 8 hours a night but it is slightly different for each person. Find out what your body needs and follow it’s lead. Waking up refreshed makes it easier to stick with your workout plans.
2. Plan to FUEL correctly!
During the long, cold months we have a natural tendency to gravitate towards comfort foods. Hot, melt in your mouth, heavy, greasy, savory comfort foods. Let’s be honest here -whatever your comfort food is, chances are it’s not a salad! So planning and preparing in advance is the key to consuming healthy, warm comfort foods that work with your fitness goals instead of against them. There are millions of recipes floating around cyberspace that can fuel your nutritional and fitness needs without resorting to carb loading like an ultra runner each day. Make the effort in advance so that you won’t reach for an old unhealthy standby when you are cold and hungry.
3. Find the SUNSHINE!
Here’s a tricky one. Montreal often has clear skies and beautiful sunshine even when it’s minus 25. This is a great bonus but it doesn’t happen every day nor does this hold true for all cold weather cities. So what to do when you need a little vitamin D to get you going? Well if it is a nice day, spend some time soaking in the sunshine from indoors, like a cat on a windowsill. Find the rays of sunlight that are filtering through the window and take a moment to stop, close your eyes and feel the warmth. When the days are long and dark, feel the warmth of the tropics at your nearest hot yoga studio. Yoga is a fabulous compliment to running as well as many other sports and fitness activities. Hot yoga and a little imagination will make your savasana feel like a beautiful day on the beach in Cancun.
4. DRESS for success!
Again this is a case against us parents of “Do as I say not as I do”. The reality is that most kids love winter and love playing in the snow. They never seem to be cold and they’re always happy to be outside. Meanwhile their parents are huddled nearby complaining about the weather. What’s their secret you ask? WINTER CLOTHES. When was the last time us grownups wore snow pants, hats, neck warmers and proper gloves? Too many of us are preoccupied with our children and making sure they don’t get frostbite but we run out of the house in jeans, no hat and a jacket that we would only let our kids wear in the fall. No wonder it’s hard to follow through with our fitness goals, many of us are too frozen to even think of working out!
5. Connect to NATURE!
If you can follow the above advice then this one is easy. Nothing says childhood nostalgia more than indulging in ice skating, fort building, skiing, snowshoeing, sledding and general outdoor winter fun. In the winter our first instinct is stay indoors but if we are well rested, well fueled and properly dressed, we CAN be active throughout the winter. If you can be active in nature no matter the weather, then you will be more inclined to stick to your goals instead of hibernating the winter away.
And when all else fails remember….
Are you still on track with your fitness goals from January or has winter got you down? If so how do you fight back?