Have you made your annual resolution — get fit, lose some weight, go to the gym? Yep, its that time of year; and chances are you already know youll get off to a great start – and be done by February.
Why do our new years fitness resolutions so often get derailed? How can we keep up the momentum? Part of the solution is understanding some of the roadblocks, and many of them are seasonal. It turns out that winter is one of the worst times to start a new fitness routine.
When the weather turns cold we naturally tend to spend more of our time indoors. With less room to move around, we get lured by the distractions of TV, food, and the comforts of just staying put. Its dark outside most of the day. All this time spent inside begins to generate an entity that drains our energy and stifles our productivity and creative juices. It happens so gradually and becomes such a part of our lives that we stop noticing it. It goes by many names, but most of us know it as clutter.
Clutter is insidious. It can be in your car, your office, your kitchen, your bathroom, your closet, your garage. It can be unorganized, unkempt, or it can be organized and arranged: but it is stuff–and too much of it. It begins to pull on you, choking you, demanding to be dealt with. Your energy and mental clarity begin to be affected, and your motivation to improve fitness and health can decline to the point where a New Years resolution becomes something you just get around to later.
Most of us wait until spring to face the clutter that builds up over the winter months. The concept of “spring cleaning” is deeply ingrained in our culture. It stems from the fact that the days begin to get longer and the weather warmer, stimulating us to better see whats around us and muster the energy it takes to deal with it. That brings us to the second major roadblock on the road to fulfilling our resolutions, and it also also helps to explain why winter is a hard time to begin a new fitness habit. We hinted at it above when we mentioned how shorter days contribute to the accumulation of clutter. And its more profound than we realize.
Sunlight has a strong impact on our bodies, particularly two hormones that control mood and energy: serotonin and melatonin. Serotonin tends to boost mood and energy, while melatonin tends to make you feel sleepy. Winter depression is a common disorder many people suffer with during the long, dark winter months, and it is often directly tied to the effect of less daylight, less serotonin and too much melatonin. If you havent developed the habits that promote fitness and strength going into fall and winter, those habits will be more difficult to start from scratch when the sun is less available to help.
Does this all mean that we should just give up on the idea of improving our health and fitness until spring? Not if we are aware of the factors conspiring against our goals, and learn how we can overcome them. Sure, it may be easier to start going to a gym in the spring when the sun beckons us outdoors, but its not impossible to get an early jump on things.
Start with a plan. Think about when and how you will get active. Yoga in the morning? Treadmill after work? Weight training? Running? Start with what you will most likely stick with and go slowly at first. If you try to do too much right away, you risk early burn-out, or worse, injury. Either way, youre done almost before you start.
Examine your diet and look into foods that support mental clarity and physical energy. Because of the ways our foods are processed these days, it can be difficult to get the vitamins and minerals we need. Fortunately, there are many high quality supplements and superfoods, such as the Isagenix system, available to provide the nutrition thats missing from our everyday diet.
Seek out support from fitness-minded friends. Its no secret that support from peers is a powerful motivator. Join a gym or fitness club with members who share your interests and goals. They will help keep you motivated with athletic and social events that will keep you on track.
So go ahead and make your resolutions for the new year. Just be aware of the seasonal factors that can work against you and prepare to deal with them. You will find your road easier to travel and your fitness and weight loss goals much more attainable.
by Bob Lewis