Don’t Go To Waste This Winter

don’t go to waste this winter

You’ve worked your ass off all summer long. Over the past 3 months you’ve added a good amount of muscle, your strength is through the roof, and you’ve got a good solid tan going. But most of all, you’ve been something you haven’t been since your high school days… Consistent! You’ve only missed one morning that you were supposed to be in the gym, and you felt terrible about that, even though you had a good excuse.

But now the summer is over, days are seemingly getting shorter and you’re starting to feel the weight of the load you’ve been holding up all summer… fatigue is setting in… maybe it’s time for a break…

Doesn’t winter just suck? I never thought I would say that. As a Colorado native, you are kind of expected to love the winter months. As a kid it’s easy; the cold bothers you some but for the most part, the snow is a blast – extra days off from school, building forts in the drifts, snowball fights with the neighborhood kids. But now I’m getting sick of it! Nothing against Colorado though… In all honesty, I don’t think I’ll ever call another state home. I love the mountains and the fresh air, but when winter is poking its nasty head around the corner, I start to cringe! I really don’t understand how people in the “Great White North” can do it. I mean… the only real positive thing about winter in Colorado is that it makes you appreciate the summer that much more when it comes back around. Winter, to me, is like having a birthday; when you’re a kid they are all fun and games. But as you get older, you start to see it coming a few months out and dread every day it gets closer. Am I the only one that feels this way? If you live in a place where the winter gets cold you probably know exactly what I’m talking about. In the summer, you might even throw in an extra 30-minute workout before you go out with your friends so your arms are pumped up in your tight short sleeve T. In the winter it’s just not that way. The fact that you have to dress heavier might even stop you from going out completely. Why go out of your way to build a great physique just so you can throw on a bulky sweater and long pants everyday?

Winter can be a hindrance on your workout life too! To me, there’s nothing like stepping out of the gym into the subtle breeze of a warm summer night after throwing down a gut-busting workout. In the winter, you hate that you have to get all dressed again, throw your coat on, complete with hat, gloves and boots. Then you step out into that bitter cold air as it hits every bead of sweat on your face, biting and stinging, and causing your whole body to tense all up as you climb into your stiff, frigid car. But winter isn’t just about cold weather. Even if you live in a “warm weather” state, you are probably affected by the gloom of winter – and you might not even know it. The shorter daylight time alone can throw your mental presence of time into a complete tailspin leaving you “groggy” no matter what time you workout.

Well, there are a number of things we can do, depending on the severity of the circumstances. The truth is, we all suffer from it to some degree! Like I said already, even in the warm weather states, you can be affected by winter. Actually, winter depression isn’t much different than any other form of depression as far as symptoms are concerned. They just come about during the fall and winter months and then subside during the spring and summer. Which makes a lot of sense, with the way most people (myself included) are more motivated in the summer than in the winter. If you look at the general symptoms of depression you will see how bad this could mess you up. Lack of energy, increased need for sleep, and a craving for sweets and excess food resulting in unwanted fat… winter sucks!

Anyway, back to the issue here. Summer has come to an end and winter is slowly taking over – forcing your mind and body into “hibernation”. But how do you keep from letting winter depression set in? How do you avoid getting that “winter coat”? How do you survive the storm?

Here are a few points that may help you see your way through the winter without falling off the wagon altogether.

Get more sunlight! Sunlight may or may not be an issue for you, but the truth is, winter comes with shorter days and longer nights. So if you have an office job without a window or you work nights – you might not see daylight for days at a time! “Light therapy” has been shown to help to improve some peoples’ mental well-being during times when they have less exposure to sunlight. Basically, you sit in front of a box that has some special super bright light lamps for up to 2 hours per day while you are reading or watching TV or whatever. Sounds hokey? Yeah… I agree. But the scientific facts are there to prove it!

Change it up! Remember the time – back in the day – when you were excited to get to the gym? Back when you felt like you were making progress every time you stepped foot in the weight room. Well, you can get there again by doing one simple thing… Change it up! I like to look at wintertime as a reason to change it up in the gym. I say, treat it the same way you would treat any other plateau. A change in routine can stimulate you physically and mentally! And can help you stay motivated to go to the gym and hit it hard every day.

A modification in your routine can be subtle or dramatic; it’s up to you. You could change to a completely different routine if you must, but even something simple, like using dumbbells instead of a barbell on the bench press, can stimulate substantial growth if you haven’t changed things for a while.

Also, you might be happy with your progress so far and feel like your hard work is finally paying off. But don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can start to slack off and just start maintaining what you have. Even though you might be able to, you’re probably going to find yourself spending more time making excuses than in the weight room. Whatever you do, don’t quit! If you think you’re happy now, imagine how you will feel 3 months from now! Trust me, especially during the first 12 months of training; progress in the weight room builds upon itself exponentially! The more muscle you have, the more fat you will burn and the faster results will come.

Audit your diet! Not only do winter months bring about cold, gloomy, sunless days, they bring about family gatherings and dreadfully tempting food packed holidays. This time of year you need to be even more conscious than normal because the temptations don’t stop; at least not until January comes back around and everyone wants to get in shape again! We all need to audit our diets during the holidays and make sure that we aren’t setting ourselves up for the same ol’ New Years Resolution. The best way to avoid failure in any situation is to set achievable goals and devise a plan to hit them.