Friday, March 14, 2014

6 Tips for Staying on Track When It's Absolutely Miserable Outside

 photo OrchidGrey5Tips_zps684356b5.jpg

I've already spoken to the fact that I basically made myself sick over the holidays from a combination of foods that were all really good, and all really terrible for me. I have no regrets (that's probably a lie, I definitely don't regret the lobster), but once the new year hit, I knew I had to get myself back on track and feeling better, stronger, faster. After two months of straight-up work and eating some serious feelings, I hadn't visited the gym in ages and I could easily tell I'd lost some strength. It was all a good kick in the ass to get moving again. I'm really proud of what I've accomplished over the past few months. Not only do I feel as though I've repaired my relationship with my body and stuck to a pretty solid gym routine, but in doing so I've somehow managed to avoid the crushing S.A.D. that has affected me in seasons past.

Today I thought I'd share a few tips for staying motivated during these last few days of winter. Because spring is almost here, and soon we'll be able to get outside and feel the sun on our faces, and that is going to be awesome. But spring's not here just yet...

Make it about the way you feel - This year, I stopped weighing myself and started treating my body with kindness, and I feel so much better. While I know the 'no scale' approach isn't for everyone, after realizing that my weight could actually fluctuate drastically week to week, I stopped seeing the point of checking. All it did was stress me out and make me panicky, which is dumb and not worth the brain space. Instead, I focus on how I feel physically and emotionally, and when I'm tempted to insult myself in the mirror, I repeat this to myself. Because it's true. No one likes an asshole, so this year I stopped being an asshole to my body. I work out to feel strong mentally and physically, and to clear the cobwebs from my head. And to sleep like a baby. Because sleep is awesome.

Set a schedule & take advantage of weekends - My workweek can get pretty crazy, and crazy exhausting, so I try to take advantage of weekends to either get outside and run (if the temperature is above 30), or get to the gym. This guarantees that I've knocked two days off my three to four day weekly workout schedule so all I have to do is get there once or twice during the week. It doesn't always happen, but it helps.

Add variety - If you have a gym membership, try a new class. If you don't, try a new DVD. I started taking advantage of the spin and yoga classes offered at my gym and ended up loving them both. They were the perfect addition to my usual cardio/weight/running routine. I'm only able to run once or twice a week without my knees blowing up like water balloons, so that variety helps to keep things interesting when I can't be outdoors.

Try an app or two - I just signed up for Runkeeper and love it. It tracks my mileage, maps my routes, and updates me on my progress. Definitely a keeper, and one I enjoy using. On the flipside, I tried MyFitnessPal and hated it. It felt like it was tailored more towards easily scannable processed foods and focused way too much on calories and cardio. I know a couple of people who have had success losing weight with it, but that wasn't my goal, and seeing my estimated calories mapped out like that started to bring up some old feelings of negativity. Also, because I make the majority of what I eat from scratch and don't measure my portions, it was pretty much useless. Deleted. But I'm glad I tried it.

Get changed at work - My motivational dead zone? Between my car and my apartment. It sucks getting out of a warm car and walking in ten degree weather into a warm apartment. An apartment with a cat who practically climbs into your arms and gives you the look that no one can resist. To avoid this emotional roller coaster, I change into my workout clothes at work, and just pick up Chris on my way to the gym. It's hard to talk yourself out of it when you're already dressed and it saves so much time.

Reward yourself - When I'm feeling particularly proud of myself, I'll sometimes purchase a new workout-specific item or something small I've wanted from the health and beauty aisle at the natural foods store (I'm a sucker for incense, ayurvedic candles, you know my secret). I like rewarding myself with something that will either make me feel great and be functional while at the gym, or something nice for my body. I never reward myself with food beyond a recovery snack though (usually a fresh date with almond butter between the gym and dinner), because while I don't weigh myself and still enjoy a treat now and then, I do stick to a pretty specific diet - one that has kept my skin clear and my gut feeling good - and rewarding myself with junk isn't worth it. Also, for workout clothes, I love TjMaxx (the majority of my fitness stuff is from there) and Aeropostale.


Seeking Style said...

I love this post! Luckily, So Cal doesn't really have winter, so the weather has detered me, but I am struggling with the scale and numbered weight thing. I tried My Fitness Pal and I liked it for a few weeks and then it just made me super anxious and stressed out. I am starting to learn it's not about the quanity of calories, it's about the quality! Also, I've added more weight training, so my scale number may go up, but I definitely fit better in my jeans! Haha I have used the Nike Running app to track my runs and it sounds similar to the one you use!

xo Jennifer

Anonymous said...

Great post, thanks. It's wonderful to hear how you deal with these winter struggles, and it's great to know I'm not alone. I try to do 5 min of yoga when I wake up in the morning, just a good way to get me going. Even though it's only 5 min, I don't always do it... Yeah, gotta remember to talk nice to my body -- and my mind -- just like I do to my friends. Thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips, Julie – I needed them! I deserve a kick in the butt for not being constant on my exercises. It is so hard for me to stay motivated during the winter period. And I do the worst sin of them all – rewarding myself with food.
Hope I get back on track soon. Have a great weekend!

~Mia | Canary Wharf Domestic Cleaning

Kayly Nyman said...

I'm going to start running again this spring after a six month hiatus. Just waiting for the latest foot of snow to melt down some! And I agree with you on MyFitnessPal. Really not a fan. I too make most of my meals from scratch, and don't measure portions which makes tracking my calories with it virtually impossible. I also subscribe to the the 'no scale' type diet/exercise. It is 100% about how I look and feel about myself! Great post!

Orchid Grey said...

@seeking style - Totally agree re: quality of quantity. The only day that I stuck to my "calorie limit" was when I ate a protein bar for lunch and was completely miserable. And yay to weight lifting!!! another reason why I don't listen to the scale. i may weigh more, but I'm so much stronger.

@anon - 5 min of morning yoga sounds awesome! I should really add something like that in to my AM routine, it sounds like the perfect way to wake up.

@Mia - believe me when I say I'm not completely virtuous all the time, but one of the biggest things I've taught myself over the past few months is that beating yourself up isn't worth the time or energy. You'll get there :)

@Kayly - we've been lucky and really haven't had much snow lately. It's such a good feeling to get out once it melts!

Emily Baker said...

you're absolutely right. it's between work and my apartment.

tamara said...

I've been working hard to stay more active over the last several months. Question about the Aeropostale activewear--do you find it to be TTS or do you size up since it's "girls"?

Orchid Grey said...

@Tamara - I find it runs true to size, tops even run a little large.

Liz Lauren said...

love the shoes

Kallie, Happy Honey and Lark said...

Just thinking about winter in PA makes me want to curl up under a blanket FOREVER. My friends and I all joke post college that we hardly even notice winter anymore since we don't live in PA anymore. I needed this post, I've just been a slug and feeling like a drag lately...and I need to stop being an asshole to myself. I hope you're feeling good and ready for some beautiful weather...its coming!!!

The Braided Bandit said...

Loved this post! I am currently working on my health and fitness and definitely need to try the no scale/ no measuring approach, as I beat myself up over it! On days I can't get to the gym, I have been using a free site with online working videos called, which I recently did a blog post about too. They have amazing free workout videos and its run by a husband and wife trainer duo who are both very nice/ relatable! Definitely recommend checking it out! :)

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