Am I the only one finding it a lot tougher to get out of bed lately?
These dark days have me feeling like I want to hibernate. Seriously 5pm feels like 8pm and 8pm feels like midnight.
It’s not unusual to feel this way or to feel like you need to go to bed earlier and rise later.
Humans have an internal circadian rhythm that is tied to the rising and setting of the sun.
Winter means less daylight and more darkness. Our bodies naturally gravitate towards less activity, fattier foods and more body fat storage. It’s how our ancestors survived harsh winters back in the days when there was little shelter or warmth.
Trying to fight this is hard because it’s ingrained in our DNA. I know I personally am less motivated and have to work a lot harder to be in a good mood when the sun shines less and I am cold all the time.
The Winter Blues are no joke.
There is nothing we can do about winter. It will be here, for months, and it is going to be cold and dark and snowy and difficult. That we can’t change. But there are a number of things you and I can do to keep ourselves from succumbing to the Winter Blues.
- Set a goal. Motivation is a lot harder to come by in the cold and when we are covered in so many clothes. Not to mention the holidays! Set a goal you want to achieve by the end of the winter. It could be a weight loss goal or to reach a certain milestone by March. Anything to keep you committed to a routine. It’s too easy to fall off this time of year without a purpose to keep us going.
- Find projects. This is a great time to get things done around the house since you will be spending a lot more time indoors. Pick a project for each area of your home; closets, basement, bedroom, kitchen, etc. Work on completing one project a week. Eliminating clutter and clearing things out will also make you feel lighter, less stressed and more productive all of which can stave off depression.
- Start a gratitude journal. We can thank our ancestors again for hardwiring our brains to remember negative experiences over positive ones. It’s how primitive man learned to survive. This means if we want to remember good things that happened we have to consciously remind ourselves. I started a gratitude journal last year and each night before bed I wrote down all the good things that happened that day and what I was grateful for. On my darkest days it helped me remember there were still so many good things in my life to be happy about.
- Get outside. Ok this one is tough for me because I hate being cold and really, really don’t want to be outside in the winter. But there is something about nature and vitamin D that I cannot deny. It just helps boost your energy and mood to experience nature. Take your dog for a short walk or build a snowman with the kids. Bundle up and try to appreciate the many sides of Mother Nature, from hot humid summer to cold crisp winter.
- Eat healthy and drink lots of water. This one applies year round and especially in the winter. Not much is in season when it comes to fruits and veggies this time of year, but there are some unique to the winter months that are still healthy and delicious. This is a great time to make seasonal recipes using squashes, pumpkin, cranberries, apples and so on. Lighten up chili and make healthier versions of hot drinks like hot chocolate with unsweetened cocoa and almond milk. Comfort foods do not have to be calorie bombs. You can enjoy the best of the season within reason and then you won’t have the guilt or find your pants fitting tighter in February.
If you live in the northern part of the U.S., get ready, we are in for many long, dark cold months. However that’s no excuse to let yourself go or give in to the blues. Spring will eventually come and we can get through this. But we have to consciously take action and don’t give in to the urge to eat, sleep and be moody!
We can do this.
This week we celebrate Sweetest Day, and what better way to connect with your sweetie than with a workout!
If you never thought of working out with your spouse or you don’t think it can work because you are different physically or at different fitness levels, let me share with you the stories of four inspiring couples who are on a health and fitness journey together.
I love training husband and wife couples because losing weight and living a healthy lifestyle is truly a family affair.
Working out together doesn’t always work for every couple, but these guys really enjoy it.
Scott and Celia keep each other accountable not just with training but attending yoga classes together and when they eat out they order one entree and split it, rather than indulging in large individual portions.
Ken and Sarah make times for workouts both at the gym and at home, and they can bring their two girls with them to training which is a big plus. They discuss the weekly meal plan and Sarah preps food for the whole family each week to be sure they all stay on track with healthy meals.
Bo and Tracy love coming in and working hard, and now their two daughters also want to start training! Planning healthy meals for the family is also a big focus for these two, and because they are both coming to training it keeps them accountable to working out on their own as well.
Maggie and Andy were my first husband wife team, and their results have been impressive! Not only do they train with me, they go to the gym a couple times a week and have really enjoyed getting stronger and being able to do it together.
With everything we have going on in life, sometimes it can be hard to find time to connect with your partner. If that’s the case, an hour at the gym can be not only time to focus on your health and fitness goals but also a little quality time with your honey!
Just because you are different sizes, shapes or have different strength and ability levels doesn’t mean you can’t train together, as long as you have the right trainer who can equally challenge you both.
I love working with husbands and wives and showing them that this journey is one they can and should take together. We should all be focused on being health and fit for life, so we can live a long and happy life together.
So this Sweetest Day, if you and your love and thinking of making a change, maybe skip the candy and dinner out and hit the gym instead. You just might find it not only changes your body, but also strengthens your relationship.
Motivation and willpower are two things we must have if we are going to successfully lose weight.
But why, when we know we want something badly, do we often find ourselves lacking the motivation to do the things we know we need to in order to get the results we want?
Because motivation and willpower are deplete-able resources. You can and will use them up.
Think of your motivation or willpower like your cell phone. When you wake up in the morning, it is fully charged.
As you go throughout the day, you’re making decisions. Choosing a healthy breakfast, debating whether to have a cookie at the office meeting.
Each time you draw on that willpower, just like using your cell phone to make a call, it drains the battery a little.
At the end of the day, your battery is almost dead.
That’s why when your significant other suggests pizza instead of cooking, you know you shouldn’t have pizza because you want to lose weight and eat healthy, but you just can’t say no.
The battery is dead.
Now, with your cell phone, you go through this process all day long. But you can save your battery life by being sure to take time throughout the day to plug that phone into its charger for a boost.
How do we recharge our willpower and motivation? By not using them.
How can we NOT use them? By creating habits which eliminate decisions.
Plan and prepare meals ahead of time, practice a consistent healthy routine. Go to the gym at the same time every day. Make it a habit to avoid grabbing candy from the candy dish at work.
Then you don’t have to drain your willpower, because the decision is already made. You just have to do what you always do.
The second way to keep motivation strong, is to outsmart the future you.
Think of present you, Monday morning you. You’re motivated, excited about taking on these new goals and practicing good habits.
Now think about future you, Thursday evening you. She’s been working all week, she’s tired and basically she’s OVER it.
Future you is the one who is going to blow everything for present you.
So you have to outsmart her. Here’s how
1. Plan ahead.
Stash healthy snacks stashed in your purse, in your desk drawer at work, and in your car, so there’s no excuse to hit the vending machine or snag a donut in the break room. You’ve got it covered.
2. Do “diet recon” work.
Do a Google search and find the two best, healthiest restaurants near your home and also your work. Find the two best menu options at each. Write them down. Now the next time you’re stuck at work late or you get home and have nothing to make for dinner, you have options you can go to without having to think about it.
3. Portion your snack foods in to individual bags.
We tend to snack a lot more from a larger bag because it is harder to tell how much we’ve eaten. In order to prevent yourself from over-eating, take large containers of chips, nuts, crackers, etc and place them into individual servings in bags. Think of it as making your own 100 calorie packs. This way you know exactly how much you’re eating, and you’re much less likely to have two when you know it is double the serving and double the calories.
4. Sign up for workout classes and pay in advance.
Accountability is huge in sticking to commitment. If you sign up for something ahead of time you’re less likely to cancel, and if you paid for it you’re going to want to get your money’s worth. Instead of saying “I’m going to try to go to the gym after work.” Sign up for the evening class and put it on your calendar so you’re committed.
Now it’s your turn. What is ONE thing you can do today that will help you stay on track even when you don’t feel like it? Keep your willpower strong by using it now to plan for those future moments when you’re not feeling quite so motivated.
There was a time when I thought nothing could replace my Fitbit Charge.
It was such a huge part of my day, keeping me moving, reminding me to stay active and providing a feeling of accomplishment each time I crushed the competition in a daily challenge.
And then, one day, something came into my life that replaced my Charge.
It was my Fitbit Alta.
Leaner, lighter, and more visually appealing with all of the same benefits I loved about my Charge. But now I didn’t feel as if I was wearing a bulky sports watch and even had the option to dress it up with cute bracelet-style bands when I wore it to dinner or a wedding. (All those dance moves count!!)
I’ve worn a Fitbit daily for more than 2 years. I started with the Charge, and did have to get a replacement after 10 months when the band started to come apart. Fitbit customer service was fantastic and sent me a new one at no cost, all I had to do was send a pic of the damage and my purchase information.
I LOVED my Fitbit Charge – Click the image to check it out
The second Charge lasted another year until I finally convinced my hubby to let me purchase the new, sleeker and less obvious Alta.
Given that I’ve worn my Alta daily now for more than six months, it has held up well. No band tears, nothing coming apart.
The Alta has all the same features as a Charge with the exception of the stopwatch function. I will say I really miss this feature as I used it regularly to time intervals quickly and easily with Personal Training clients. I’m not sure why the Alta does not have this feature but other than that I love everything about it.
One thing the Alta has that the Charge did not is a step reminder. If I have not taken 250 steps in an hour, the watch will buzz and remind me to move. I LOVE this! It is great when I’ve been working at the computer awhile and have lost track of time. This keeps me moving at least a little bit each hour.
My next step is to get some replacement bands so I can dress it up for a night out or when I go to an event. I don’t want to miss any steps so I regularly wear the Alta anyway but the plain black band doesn’t always accessorize well. It does, however, look a lot better than the plastic, bulky Charge.
Having a Fitbit has absolutely inspired me to move more and I always recommend them to clients. If you wear it and if you allow it to motivate you and keep you accountable it is a fantastic tool in your weight loss and healthy living tool box.
Just buying one won’t help you lose weight but it can work if you wear it and aim for a daily step goal.
If you’re trying to decide between the Charge and the Alta I recommend the Alta. FitBit definitely made some improvements with this newer model and it is worth the upgrade.