Baby, It’s Too Cold Outside: Five Ways to Get Fired up about Fitness this Winter

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Written by Shoshana Pritzker Friday, 05 November 2010 18:05

fitnessrxmag.com

It’s oh-so-cold out, and if you’re feeling (and looking) bulkier than ever in layers upon layers of sweaters and coats, you’re not alone. Not to worry. Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez, author of Mind Over Fat Matters, offers five simple steps for shaking the cold and getting fit this winter.

Tampa, FL (November 2010)—With the temperatures plummeting this time of year, it seems the opportunities to exercise are just as bleak as the weather forecast. Days full of rushing to holiday parties, shopping for friends and family, and nights curled up by the fire take over during the chillier months. This time of year presents the perfect excuse to indulge in delicious comfort foods and slack off on even the best-laid plans for exercising. “Winter is one of the most difficult seasons to stay committed to an active, healthy lifestyle,” advises Dr. Lavinia Rodriguez, author of Mind Over Fat Matters: Conquering Psychological Barriers to Weight Management.  “But just because it is cold outside is not a valid excuse to stop exercising. The key is to infuse exercise into your day-to-day activities.” So while it is easy to stay all bundled up nice and cozy indoors, you have to find the right motivation to keep up a healthier lifestyle. It is virtually impossible to keep up the same routine from the summer, and even demoralizing if you try. Instead, finding hidden incentive in the joy of the season is the best way to keep your spirits and motivation high. Read on for some of Dr. Rodriguez’s best tips for staying motivated:

Hibernating is just for the bears.
When we’re cold, we tend to want to just curl up with a blanket and relax. The season is filled with some of the best-tasting snacks, from eggnog and chili to cookies and chocolate. But these comfort foods can quickly result in a bit of a winter bulge. As soon as the winter coats and sweaters come off, you’ll wish you had showed more restraint.   “Exercising in the cold weather not only burns fat while you’re exercising,” encourages Dr. Rodriguez, “it also motivates you to be active instead of being a couch potato. Keep in mind that every opportunity to move should be capitalized on. Even something as simple as going to the mall to shop for gifts can be exercise. Finding ways to fit exercise into your daily life is key!”

Turn up your internal heater.
The long (well, not really so long) walk from the car to the gym seems almost unbearable in the blustery winter winds. And the thought of changing clothes in the chilly gym locker room, accompanied by the presence of running shorts, is almost too much to stomach.  “Don’t forget that exercise actually warms you up,” explains Dr. Rodriguez. “Think of your red cheeks and glistening forehead as an indicator that your body temperature is rising. Being inactive will only perpetuate the chilliness of the season.”

Maintain a glass-half-full mentality.
In the dead of winter, the sunny days of summer may seem ages away. But soon enough you’ll be packing shorts and bathing suits for long, hot vacations. Just think about how much slimmer you’ll be when the weather warms up if you maintain a healthy lifestyle all year long. You’ll be beach body-ready long before Memorial Day.  “Summer is a big motivator for slimming down,” says Dr. Rodriguez, “but don’t wait to start slimming down in the summer months! Winter is actually a great time to experiment at the gym with new workout routines. Most people tend to quit working out in the cold weather, so take advantage of all the classes and equipment that’s usually reserved.”

Walk it out (snow boots optional!).
If you take a trip to the mall or even a brisk walk around the neighborhood, don’t forget that every step counts. Yes, while going to the gym and engaging in rigorous exercise is great, it’s not always feasible. Start keeping count of your steps with a pedometer and challenge yourself to be more active. Ask for a pedometer this holiday season or even sneak and buy one for yourself! “Wearing a pedometer motivates you to take more steps daily,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “Set a goal and gradually increase your steps to 10,000 per day if possible. Turning exercise into an enjoyable part of your day will greatly increase your odds of living a healthy lifestyle all year long.”

Welcome the winter wonderland.
Think of all the fun winter activities you used to do as a kid—sledding, skiing, and ice skating, just to name a few. Who says you have to stop enjoying winter just because you’re an adult? Plan a weekend ski trip with your girlfriends or go caroling in your neighborhood. The options are endless for winter fun. “Winter has a lot of special activities that you’re not able to do year-round,” says Dr. Rodriguez. “Think of all the winter traditions you can start or continue with your family and friends just by finding ways to have fun outside. If you’re having fun, it’s like you’re not exercising.” “Motivating yourself in the winter is as simple as embracing the colder temperatures and using them to your advantage,” advises Dr. Rodriguez. “The key is to find fun and easy ways to stop the weather and shorter days of the season from being a deterrent to your healthy lifestyle.”

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