Are you struggling with the colder weather and gloomier days?
I've heard a lot of concern this week surrounding the issue of keeping up with routine during the current transition of the seasons. After such a lovely summer here in the UK, I hear you. Keeping up with our steps, getting out of bed in the morning and generally keeping morale high is getting more and more difficult as the days go on. If you're concerned about falling behind or not quite sure how to best transition your routine, read on for my top tips.
Keeping up with your steps.
With the darker mornings/nights, it makes sense that we feel like we have less time in the day to be on our feet. I get it, I'm not a huge fan of walking out in the dark either. My biggest tip here is to stand up as much as you can throughout your day. As an example, this past Sunday I managed over 10,000 steps just by going food shopping (15 minutes walk each way) and meal prepping for the week. Whilst in the supermarket, I made sure that I walked down every aisle and then when I started cooking, I kept myself busy by washing up between dishes. As I was prepping all of my meals for the entire week, this meant 2.5 hours on my feet that otherwise I'd have spent sat on my laptop and/or watching television.
A task I often set new clients who are struggling with getting their steps in is to break up all long periods of sitting with 5-10 minutes of standing/walking every 30-minutes. Set yourself a timer on your phone and get up to make a cup of tea, do some washing up, take out the bins and/or wander around browsing on your phone. You'll be really surprised by how much these little bursts of steps add up throughout the day.
Getting yourself up and going in the morning.
We've all struggled with this one. It starts to get darker in the mornings and suddenly our internal clocks don't know what to do with us. We set our alarms for 6.30 am, waking up cold and in the dark, with the intention of getting out for that early run/morning gym session only to roll back over and say 'I'll do it later'. Some blame a lack of motivation, I blame a lack of desire.
My tip here is to get to the bottom of your why and keep revisiting it. Before you go to bed, remind yourself why you want to get up early and what that means to you. When your alarm sounds in the morning, force yourself to think the same thing, except this time, you go a little further. You need to engrain in your brain why you want to do something. Then, when you do manage to get up, revel in how it feels. How much more did you get done that day? How much better did you feel when you got it done. By associating waking up early, going for an early run/morning gym session with a positive, rewarding feeling, it'll end up a habit and motivation/discipline will no longer be a question.
Dealing with the rain.
Honestly, this is where I'm going to turn to tough love. Rain is not an excuse to sit around at home and get nothing done all day, we live in the UK where it rains 30% of the year. If you had to go to work via public transport (which say included 10-15 minutes of walking), would you just not go into work that day? Probably not, you'd put on your waterproof shoes and your raincoat, you may even grab your umbrella and you'd face the rain. Why is getting out for your morning/evening walk any different? If you go out for a morning walk, you get to come home, jump in the shower and then get ready for your day. If you go out for an evening walk, you get to come home, jump in the shower and then get ready to get into bed.
No more being afraid of the rain, grab your waterproofs and get it done.
Getting yourself to the gym in the evening.
You finish work at 6 pm, it's getting dark and the last thing you want to do is get yourself to the gym. My first tip here would be to switch around your schedule and gym first thing in the morning instead. You'll have much more time in your day and it'll be harder to put off because of social events (like after-work drinks etc).
But, I also understand this isn't always possible. If you must complete your gym session in the evening my top tips are:
- Set yourself an alarm so that you make yourself finish work on time (especially important now that we're working from home).
- Have a plan for your gym sessions for the week. That way, you won't be tempted to miss one because then you'll be behind.
- Have a friend/workout buddy/trainer that is waiting for you at the gym. You're less likely to let down another person than you are yourself.
Battling the common cold.
It's that awful time of the year where we're all battling a sniffly nose and sore throat, questioning whether you should let yourself rest or sweat it out. You try listening to your body, but you're not quite sure whether it's just being lazy.
My top tip here is to take a break. Not only do I recommend you keeping your germs to yourself, but also if you're feeling run down (even with just a slight sore throat) your body is likely asking you for a bit of TLC. What's more, is that the more you push through it (sweating it out as they say), the longer you'll be battling said sore throat. The majority of the time, those lingering colds could have been eliminated earlier on if you'd just rested up and given your body what it needed.
Tracking comfort food.
Cooking becomes a little more of a hobby for me in the colder months. I guess there's just something about a warm, spiced smelling kitchen that comforts me. Soups, pies and stews become more of a staple in my diet and as some of my clients have already pointed out, they become a little more complicated to track. Unless you're tracking for sport competitively, I really wouldn't sweat it. My Fitness Pal has a great recipe feature which allows you to log all of the ingredients you've used and then choose how many servings the dish splits into. The trickiest part is determining the serving sizes.
My top tip here is to weigh the entire end result i.e. if you're making a stew, set the scales to 0 with the empty Tupperware on, then fill with your stew. Then you can weigh out an appropriate serving size and work out how many of those servings are in your entire result. Another way is to look at nutrition. If you know your end result has 2000 calories in and you want 1 x 400 calorie meal, that will be 5 portions. Of course, if you've got a beef and potato stew, you want to make sure each portion has an equal amount of beef to potato to the sauce. In this case, you want to weigh it out into individual Tupperware all in one go i.e. 50g of beef, 50g of potato and 20g of sauce. This way you can ensure that you have the same nutrition in each container. Whichever direction you go, choose the method that works best for your goals.
As always, some of the tips from one point may also be relevant for another. When it comes to transitioning, you've always got to come back to consistency and routine. Once you know what you want and why you want it, the rest of the journey is much more simple.
If you have any questions, please let me know by commenting below or sending me an email at Beth@bethlavisfitness.com.