We all know how difficult it is to stay active during the winter months, but exercise helps combat winter depression and seasonal disorders. With exercise, you will be healthier and happier in these months, which are normally the hardest for people to enjoy. So no matter what you do, make sure you’re doing something. With a few tips, I hope to help you make good on your new year’s resolution to get fit, and keep you chugging along until spring is around the corner.
1. Do something active everyday. Even in winter — often the hardest time of the year to be motivated — it’s important to do something active every day. It might mean taking the steps at work or going to the mall and walking a few laps while window shopping. Something is always better than nothing, and you’ll start to notice that the little things add up quickly.
2. Do what you love to get yourself started. Many times, the toughest part of working out is starting a new regimen. If you haven’t been to a gym in a while, the best way to get back into the swing of things is to do something you enjoy. Go to the gym and play basketball instead of lifting weights, or take a long power walk instead of pedaling on the stationary bike. Once you’ve developed the habit of being active, it’s easier to start those challenging workouts. You’re getting out there, being active, and having fun at the same time; what could be better?
3. Jam out while you workout. One of the best parts of going to the gym is throwing on your iPod and listening to fabulous tunes that get you pumped up and ready to go. Build a few great playlists that get you excited to get to the gym.
4. Make your goal specific. Instead of resolving to "work out more," promise yourself you’re going to "go to the gym four times a week" or "do a set of sit-ups before work every day." If you have a firm resolution, it’ll be harder to break. And if you make a vow to work out with a friend, you will have a cheerleader there to make sure you follow through. Don’t give yourself an unrealistic goal; instead, make a solid commitment that brings you toward that ultimate goal of feeling great.
5. Set concrete goals at the gym. Each time you go the gym, set a target for the day. Whether it is doing a certain number of miles on the treadmill, an extra set of reps while lifting, or just keeping up with your buddy for the day, try to meet that aim. A specific end that helps you reach your larger objective will benefit you, since it will keep your mind closer to where it should be: on the workout you are doing, then and there.
6. Stews and soups keep you warm and healthy. During winter, eat stews or soups. It’s easy to throw together a bunch of fresh organic items into one pot, and you can make the base for the stew from some pretty simple ingredients. Sometimes water, vegetable juice, and spices do the trick, and then you just add lots of veggies. Spices and vegetables provide most of the flavor for stews instead of heavy, fatty ingredients like butter. Best of all, when you cook for yourself, you have complete control as to what goes in, and more important, what doesn’t.
7. Substitute, substitute, substitute. Recipes were made to be messed with. Use alternative ingredients to make your recipes healthier. Cook with broth (low-sodium vegetable, low-fat chicken or beef) instead of with oils. Use vinaigrettes or citrus-juice-based dressings instead of creamy ones, which are often full of saturated fat. Try olive oil, skim milk, or yogurt instead of butter or cream. Re-work dessert recipes that require heavy cream with evaporated skim milk or yogurt. For cakes and other desserts, substitute fresh-fruit puree as a topping instead of frosting. And one of my favorites: pancakes with applesauce, not maple syrup. These changes will give your favorite recipes great new flavor, and your food will be healthier!