February 22, 2013 | by Kevin M. Norris
Got the winter fitness blahs?
Snowmageddon, snow, gay news, Washington Blade

‘Snowmageddon’ (Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

Often, in the midst of winter, it’s a struggle getting out from under the warm sheets. Pulling covers over my head always seems like the easy solution.

It’s mid February and just over a month until the first day of spring. It can be cold, rainy and dark and very easy to hibernate. Snap out of it! Now is the time to be focused on what you can do to stay out of hibernation mode. If you’re in the winter slump, here are some tools to use to get you back on track and gear you up for the warm spring weather.

If you wait until the warm weather and longer days are bestowed upon you, your road back will be far longer than a road less traveled in a pro-active mode. Too many people wake up in the spring and realize they were sloths all winter and that they have a lot of work to do before donning a bathing suit.  Don’t be one of those late bloomers — get ahead of the game.

It has been proven that Seasonal Effective Disorder (SAD) is a valid disorder that can lead to a litany of stagnation and back sliding. SAD can truly affect our moods and have a negative impact on our healthy habits. Our eating habits can be compromised and exercise may be an added chore. SAD notwithstanding, there are things within our control that can assist in breaking some of the impact.

Begin by getting a full seven to nine hours of sleep per night. Then get out of bed at the same time every morning without fail and don’t even think about hitting the snooze button. I am convinced that snooze buttons are detrimental to our health and the more you hit them, the more frenetic your day will be. Next, make your bed. Sounds hokey and meaningless, but it truly can set the tone for the day. A messy bed could mean a messy day.

Eat breakfast and keep it healthy. Starting the day without breakfast is like starting your car with an empty tank of gas. You won’t get very far. If you don’t normally eat breakfast, start by adding a little at a time. Perhaps yogurt (Greek is best) and a banana. Graduate to a piece of whole grain toast or half a bagle and peanut butter.

Don’t break your exercise pattern. Continue to maintain what you have been doing all along. If you’re finding it next to impossible to get out of the house in the morning because of inclement weather or a bad attitude, work out at home. You can do a full body workout using your own body weight. Need suggestions? Google “body weighted exercises” and you will be inundated with resources; greatist.com has a list of 50 of the most effective body weighted exercises.

Find a partner in your wellness quest.  Make a pact with someone who will hold you accountable to sticking with an exercise schedule and in maintaining healthy habits. Think of this person as your own personal motivator rather than your watch dog. Of course, I think hiring a personal trainer is one of the most effective courses of action to ward off a slump. If a personal training package is too expensive for your budget, book a session or two to teach you some fresh alternatives. Also, group personal training is an efficient cost saving alternative.

Avoid accesses in alcohol — its added sugar disrupts sleeping patterns, not to mention alcohol is made of hollow calories, has very little nutritional value and will pack on pounds.

Enter a competition and set specific goals over the course of the next six to eight weeks. Your goal can be as simple as fitting into your bathing suit or the latest spring fashions. Perhaps it’s training for a 10k or joining one of the many boot camps that pop up around most major parks in the spring. Among your choices is the Mind Your Own Body Boot Camp at Meridian Hill Park beginning in March. Look to your specific gym or community center to see if it offers an outdoor boot camp class.

Another goal may be a weight loss challenge. Again, look to your gym to see if it’s offering such a competition. Also, check out meetup.com as a resource for finding a like-minded group. Meet Up groups are everywhere and support everything under the sun.

Get natural sun light. This means getting outside and soaking up the natural rays. If you are susceptible to light deprivation and if winter depression should set in, be sure to communicate this with your health care practitioner.

And make time to socialize too. We are social creatures and just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean we should remove ourselves from socialization. “People who need people are the luckiest…” Yes, I know I just quoted a Barbra song. But it’s true, being around people can energy your spirits.

Reward yourself. What will you do to celebrate your successes? It’s easy to bemoan what we have not done and we often overlook what we have achieved. Take a moment to celebrate and be grateful for your accomplishments.

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