Winter can be a hard season to get through when focusing on a healthy living journey. I know, because I spent the first two winters of my journey in a snowy and very cold (to me) area in Indiana. Even when you live in a warmer winter climate, the short days, abundant illnesses sweeping through, and other factors can eat at your motivation and resolve to live a healthy life. Based on my experiences the past few winters, I’ve put together a list of tips on how to focus on healthy living and maintain a more upbeat mindset through the colder months.
First of all, find alternatives that are appealing for your plan:
- Exercise- if you’re unable to get outside for exercise, plan some energizing indoor workouts such as videos, yoga, walking in place, and dancing! If it’s snowy but you can get out, go play in the snow. Build a snowman, go sledding, make a snow angel, or build a snow fort. Other ideas might include going to an indoor family gym or a fitness center that allows you to join for a few months at a time.
- Eating and nutrition- Most of us crave warm comfort foods during this time of the year. There are ways to do this while still practicing healthy habits, like making homemade soups or having low-sodium premade soups. Here are a couple articles about healthier soups: Healthy Soup Recipes from Eating Well and Healthiest Canned Soups from Livestrong for some ideas! Making healthier versions of other dishes like veggie noodles for pasta dishes and grilled cheese sandwiches with whole wheat bread and less butter. As far as hot drinks goes, there are quite a few we can enjoy this time of year as well: hot coco, coffee with minimal flavorings, and tea.
Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home.
Second, focus on your goals.
Just because the weather changed, doesn’t mean that your goals have disappeared. It’s still important to pursue your goals throughout the colder months. My suggestion is to make weekly goals that will help you reach your long-term goals in a smaller, more manageable, manner. Then you should review them and your progress at the end of each week to see how you’re doing and where you need to go from there. It’s a method that keeps you more focused because you’re able to create a smaller vision with smaller steps to get you where you need to go.
What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.
Thirdly, do your best to stay motivated through these months.
I wrote a blog post a couple weeks ago about motivation, called How to Stay Motivated to Lose Weight, and a lot of the tips in there can help you in regards to winter as well. Another tactic is to picture spring and summer, and how you want things to be then as far as your accomplishments and progress go. You can also look ahead to upcoming events, holidays, outings, and anything else you are looking forward to that will help you stay on track and looking to the future!
Not only that, but staying positive can help your motivation and mindset immensely. Think about the things in your day that are pleasant or bring you joy. Even in the darker, colder months, there is always something to be positive about! Celebrate those moments to make the days much more enjoyable and the winter seem less dreary.
When things seem dark and gray… Remember that you must keep pushing forward… focus on the small, little things in your day that can bring you joy!
Lastly, be creative and make some visual incentives and encouragement for yourself.
- A motivation board- A collection of graphics, quotes, pictures, and whatever else that represents your goals and your reason for moving forward each day. Some ideas for a winter-specific motivation board are:
- What you’re looking forward to in the summer.
- The goals you’re working on in the next 3-4 months.
- What you would like to have accomplished by summer.
- Any other ideas that will keep you motivated and inspired throughout the cold months.
- Weight loss journal- Start or continue a weight loss journal in notebook or binder form. You can use it to track your progress throughout your journey. It’s never too late to put one together either! Some things I have included in mine:
- Inspirational quotes.
- Progress pictures.
- A list of non-scale victories.
- Races or other fitness events.
- Essays and blog posts from my personal blog that I was particularly proud of or showed how far I had come.
- A list of rewards I wanted or planned to get.
- Fitness and nutrition pictures that were motivating.
- A letter to myself about why I started my journey and what I wanted to achieve.
You can make these however you choose to make them. They are yours to create to work for you. Use them to keep you motivated. I know whenever I worked on either of these, I felt more motivated than I did in other moments because it was fun, exciting, and got the creative juices flowing!
What are your favorite ways or simply methods of staying motivated and on track through the winter months?