Winter is here! That means fewer daylight hours, longer nights, and fridged temperatures. The problem is that these colder conditions are synonymous with a precipitous drop in our motivation levels.

You’re undoubtedly thinking, “bring on the winter weight gain!” Well, it doesn’t have to be that way. Surviving winter with your waistline, weight and fitness still at summer-time levels is possible, but you need a plan and you need to commit to it.

Adapt your lifestyle

While those icy mornings can make it difficult to get up and get out, as leaving the warm, comfy confines of your duvet to face the chilly reality outside is far from pleasant, it’s not just the cold that plays on your mental state.

Our internal clock or biorhythm is also set according to our exposure to sunlight. That means shorter days and longer nights can cause hormonal changes that leave us feeling lethargic to conserve energy.

Obviously, this is at odds with our modern lifestyles, what with 24/7 access to electricity and light, and abundant food supply. Yet the fact remains that the human body needs more sleep in winter. So give it what it wants.

Adding an extra sleep cycle to your night can do wonders in winter. It will leave you feeling refreshed and invigorated come morning. Of course, not everyone can spare an additional 90 minutes a night, but that doesn’t mean you can’t head for bed 20-30 minutes earlier for some valuable shut-eye.

Get geared up

When that alarm clock goes off when it’s cold out and still dark, getting out for that early morning sweat session can seem like an impossible task. While winter and early-morning exercise might seem incompatible, it’s often those who are most prepared who succeed.

In this instance, that preparation refers to having the right winter gear. There’s a common saying among serious athletes: “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.” While it’s a bit of a tongue-in-cheek statement, there’s some truth to the phrase.

If you have the right cold-weather gear you’re less likely to feel uncomfortable while working out. So get the right tools for the job with the right training gear, and learn to layer – it’s the best way to get from your bed to the gym without freezing!

Winter-proof your workout

There are also a number of trusted methods to winter-proof your workout, whether that’s a gym session in a temperature-controlled environment (Hot Yoga FTW!), or a run outside.

Working out in the afternoon, instead of the morning, will ensure you avoid the worst of the cold weather. However, if the weather is too nasty to head outdoors, there’s no reason why you can’t fit in a session in the comfort (and warmth) of your own home.

It takes the challenge of leaving the house in the cold out of the equation, so you’re left with no excuses but to train.

Here are a few other tips to consider:

  • Get a gym partner who will hold you accountable to your scheduled workout sessions.
  • Up the intensity – swap those dumbbell curls for some serious compound moves like squat presses and deadlifts, or some high-intensity interval training. In the colder conditions, you’ll be able to push yourself harder and burn more calories! Ditto for the cardio – up the intensity with treadmill sprints or a few WattBike intervals.
  • Find different ways to stay active instead of trying to stick to a regular gym schedule. This will keep your training interesting and stoke waning motivation levels.
  • Set yourself a winter-specific goal and work towards it to keep you motivated and focused. Be creative – the more interesting and engaging it is, the more likely you are to stick with it.
  • Find opportunities to get active (and warm yourself up in the process!) Take the stairs instead of the lift or escalator, or park further away from the shops to get in those extra steps.
  • Always keep a set of workout clothes in your car so you don’t have to go home before a session because we all know you’ll be less likely to leave your house again.