It rained extra hard today. The weather forecast calls for snow all week. When it gets dark at 5:00 p.m. and the weather is cruddy, saying “never mind” to your planned workout is easy. You suddenly get to have an extra hour of sleep in the morning or more time to make dinner after a hectic day at work.
But consider what you’re giving up when you skip the gym, the ride, or the run: The opportunity to keep winter’s extra pounds at bay. The opportunity to further protect yourself from winter colds. That feeling you get after completing a hard and sweaty workout.
Here are 7 foolproof ways to push yourself out the door to sweat on any day of the week, no matter the weather and no matter your time constraints:
- Use an app! Strava and other apps like MapMyFitness, MyFitnessPal, and Charity Miles have a social component that motivates you to keep tracking your runs. You can see what your uncle, ex, or friend is up to as well as set goals and participate in challenges.
- Outsmart yourself. You’ve probably heard of the tip of getting yourself out of bed for a workout by putting out your exercise clothes the night before. How about sleeping in them? It might sound weird, but when you sleep in your workout gear, you can literally bounce out of bed and out the door as soon as your shoes are tied.
- Find friends. If you can’t quite make yourself get to the gym, maybe knowing someone is there waiting for you will help. Friends keep you accountable and motivate you to get up on those extra wet and cold mornings.
- Find a workout you truly enjoy. Looking at your workout as a pleasure rather than pain is perhaps the best motivator. However, realize that the enjoyment may not come immediately. Choose an exercise mode that fits well with your personality and persevere. New routines and skills take time to establish. During the beginning stages, find something to distract you, such as podcasts, Beyoncé, or a friend (see above).
- Plan ahead, but be flexible. Calendar your workouts in advance so you’re not just trying to fit them in willy-nilly. But be ready to make adjustments. Maybe you ate something bad at lunch and you just don’t feel up for a six-mile run this evening. You can still grab a friend, your dog, or your phone and get out for a walk. Don’t give up on moving completely just because you don’t feel up for your original plan. Staying active will help keep you in the habit.
- Set long-term goals. Do you want to squat 200 pounds? Do you want to beat your 5K time? Do you want to run an entire half marathon without walking? Set a goal (complete with target date) and work toward that. When you’re tempted to ditch your workout because of the weather, your time constraints, or just because, remind yourself of your goal.
- Use exercise for stress management. If you’re anxious about an important work meeting, try working out in the morning. You’ll be focused on how hard you’re sweating instead of overthinking the day ahead. Or shake off the day with a long swim. The couch may be comfy, but it won’t help your mind turn off the way that exercise can.
The winter sometimes calls for us to slow down, but that doesn’t mean to stop moving. There are as many excuses to exercise as there are to skip your workout. Find your reason to get out there, and start crushing some serious goals.
Dana Lester has a bachelor’s degree in nutrition and dietetics. During her time at Oregon State University, she worked on creating the Green Office Certification Program, which helps campus offices assess themselves for environmental sustainability. She is passionate about holistic wellness, eating fruit, and writing.