How to stay motivated to train during winter

Posted by Dayne Hudson in Motivation

Estimated reading time: 7mins

How to stay motivated to train in winter | Bulk Nutrients blog

How to stay motivated with your training

The most important thing to understand is that it's ok to not "feel" like training every day.

Read that sentence again.

As human beings, we're programmed to seek comfort, which means staying in bed during winter! All of us, from Olympic competitors down, have daily times and periods of weeks where we're more motivated to train than others. That's human nature. 

So firstly, let yourself off the hook for that. The first question to ask yourself is "when is training the easiest for me?" Is it in the afternoon after work? Before work? Or at lunchtime?

1. The best time to workout: Find the time you like training the most

Once you've identified when it's easiest to train, then stick to it as best you can. At Bulk Nutrients, we're full of some of the most consistent and motivated workout fanatics anywhere...but just don't ask some of us to do it at 5 am! Everyone is different and not everyone is a morning person that's finishing their pull-ups before the sun has done even one. 

And guess what happens if you miss a workout? Nothing. Pick yourself up the next day and go for it. If you never miss more than two workouts in a row (unless you're sick, of course) then consistency won't be an issue.

Consistency is about everyday convenience.

2. Stop looking at exercise as a way to improve your body but your mind instead

Here's what scientists say about exercise and your mental health:

"Exercise improves mental health by reducing anxiety, depression, and negative mood and by improving self-esteem and cognitive function."

And this is where most people get their exercise motivation potentially wrong. Stop thinking of exercise as something that will make you look better if you stick to it for months, but as something that will improve your mental health RIGHT AWAY.

Think about it, if you stopped a random person in the street and said: "How do you feel about experiencing more happiness for the rest of the day for a 40-minute investment?" vs "How do you feel about having your ideal body, but after around 12-15 weeks of hard work?"

Most will say yes to the former and no to the latter. But they're both the same thing! 

Perception is everything. 

Exercise should be about your mind as much as your body.
Exercise should be about your mind as much as your body.

3. Keep a mental diary of your training to increase motivation

Luckily, the fitness world is quickly waking up to the fact that it's not about what we're going to look like, but rather what we're going to feel like. 

And here's a straight-up fact about humanity: everyone wants to feel good.

So, try this: over a weekly period, write down how you're feeling out of 10 before a workout. Then, record how you're feeling 20 minutes after it using the same metric. Also, engage in a free-write (between 100-150 words only), to describe how you're feeling after your workout. And be sure to sign what you write afterwards, and never sign anything that isn't 100% the truth. 

Do it for ONE week. And when motivation or time becomes an issue, revert to the scores and written content to help get you back on track.

4. Social media isn't for comparisons 

Using social media for "motivation" can be a slippery slope. As human beings, we inevitably make comparisons to other people's bodies and progress, which research shows can have a negative impact on our mental health. Moreover, Instagram use is linked to eating disorders. 

Unless the person/account you're following positively motivates you and doesn't make you feel worthless, then go ahead and unfollow them. 

For starters, we all know that social media isn't real life. But that hasn't stopped people from wanting to give up and quit because they feel their fitness idols are looking better than them.

For example, here is a link that shows how bodies are edited by social media celebrities, who feel the pressure to look good as much as anybody else.

So, follow people on social media that have a positive impact on your mental health. And if you can't find any, then consider staying off the platform(s) altogether! 

5. Have a program that keeps challenging you

There's nothing worse than the same exercises. On the same day. Week after week.

Be sure to change up your gym program in terms of muscles trained on given days, and the exercises you do.

For example, you might train legs on a Monday. Now you can change that to a Wednesday, along with changing your exercises altogether. If your leg workout looks like this:

5 x leg extensions

5 x squats

3 x hack squats

3 x lunges

Then consider changing it to this:

5 x squats

3 x dumbbell split squats

3 x leg press super-setted with lunges

3 x leg extensions

Boredom can come from knowing what's going to happen with your workouts. So, change it up for added motivation!

Training with a friend can make motivation way easier to come by.
Training with a friend can make motivation way easier to come by.

6. Invite a friend to train with you

This might mean heading to their gym, or training at one of your homes, or going out for a walk together.

Whatever it is, having a social training session whereby you catch up AND push each other makes it all the more fun. Having a favourite meal to eat afterwards is also beneficial in keeping you both committed and engaged. 

Find a training partner who is at the same level as you and is keen to push and be pushed! This approach has the added benefit of further forming a human relationship, which is also critical to our health and wellbeing.

The bottom line is that perceptions around exercise motivation need to change. You can still achieve better physicality even by missing a few workouts. But the aim of our workouts should be to achieve immediate better mental health, with the body changes seen as an added benefit. By understanding this, and by finding the time you like to train the most, and keeping a diary of how you feel afterwards, training frequently should be as difficult as it might have been previously. 

Moreover, by only following social media accounts that motivate you, and by changing up your program frequently and even finding a buddy to train with, motivation might not be as much of an issue. 

References:

  1. Karim F, Oyewande AA, Abdalla LF, Chaudhry Ehsanullah R, Khan S. Social Media Use and Its Connection to Mental Health: A Systematic Review. Cureus. 2020;12(6):e8627. Published 2020 Jun 15. doi:10.7759/cureus.8627 
  2. Sharma A, Madaan V, Petty FD. Exercise for mental health. Prim Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry. 2006;8(2):106. doi:10.4088/pcc.v08n0208a 
  3. Turner, P. G. & Lefevre, C. E. (2017). Instagram use is linked to increased symptoms of orthorexia nervosa. Eating and Weight Disorders – Studies on Anorexia, Bulimia and Obesity, 22(2), 277-284. doi: 10.1007/s40519-017-0364-2
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