When temperatures drop, so can our motivation. As the cold weather hits and sticks around, the last thing many of us are motivated to do is march through the elements to the gym or stay fully committed to a nutrition plan (it’s still hot chocolate season, after all). Today we tackle how to stay motivated in the winter months. How can we lean back into motivation while we wait for warmer weather? Our experts weigh in on the internal and external sides of motivation to keep you on track year-long.
It’s February. We’re past the point of New Year’s Resolutions and holiday cheer: we’re in the depths of winter. It’s not necessarily the most friendly time to trudge to the gym or grocery store. And with much still shut down due to COVID-19, it can be easy to stay inside and comfortable in front of a Netflix binge. However, if you are serious about your health goals, you understand taking months off of a routine just makes the return to healthy habits a long, uphill climb. Luckily, there are ways we can support our mind to continue the motivation sparked when the New Year hit.
Have you ever felt more “amped” for a workout after throwing on your favorite pair of sneakers? Scientists have actually measured this effect, referred to as “enclothed cognition,” suggesting what clothing you put on influences your behavior and attitude, and subconsciously changes how you act – or in this case, if and how you exercise. Also, it turns out how much you like what you wear during a workout can help push you to exercise more effectively. When a moment where motivation may be fleeting, get dressed in gear that makes you feel your best and see what happens with your drive to get going. Having the right gear in winter helps too, obviously (no one wants to turn into an icicle on a run).
Think Beyond the Scale
There is more to a healthy exercise and nutrition routine than how it affects a number on a scale (or DEXA body composition results). While a healthy weight is crucial for overall wellness and preventing many noncommunicable diseases like cardiovascular disease, Type II diabetes and cancer, remaining steadfast in healthy exercise and nutrition habits also helps ward off infectious diseases by keeping the immune system strong. Exercise is strongly linked to immune system health, as is getting plenty of nutrients from whole food sources of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts and lean proteins. Thinking about the additional benefits to health and wellness that come with continuing healthy habits can serve as an extra boost in motivation to keep you moving – and chewing – in healthy ways throughout the year.
Remember Your WHY
Everyone has different sources of motivation to understand how to stay motivated in the winter, and to live a healthy lifestyle. For some, it’s training for a marathon, for others it’s protecting their longevity to be around for their grandchildren. Either way, motivation is rooted in purpose. Finding a strong “why” to be healthy is just as important (if not more) as finding the “how” in following a nutrition plan or exercise program. Ask yourself questions like “Why is my health important to me?” “What do I value about my health?” and “What is possible for me if I create a healthy lifestyle?” These deeper questions can fuel intrinsic motivation, or a drive that comes from within, to keep you motivated when external factors like weather and darkness put a damper on ambition.
If it has been difficult for you to find your footing in healthy habits over the past few months, you’re not alone. With shorter, colder days brings a natural inclination to curl up and reach for comfort food, especially with the added stress of the COVID-19 pandemic still closing in. There’s nothing wrong with giving into what the body needs for rest and recovery, but it’s smart to keep in mind the importance of sustaining healthy habits year-round to promote optimal physical and mental health.
Ready to set yourself up for success this year? Talk to our Nutrition Coaches about personalized nutrition programming to help you reach your goals.