It’s getting darker. And colder. The leaves are changing and falling from the trees; pumpkin everything is around us; and it’s almost time to drag out those sweaters. The seasonal changes can be a challenge for some people. I know that I definitely notice a change with the seasons.
My fitness changes a fair amount with the time of year. During the late spring through early fall, I don’t go to the gym very much. My focus changes to cycling or hiking, or running outside. The weather is too nice to be stuck in a smelly, stuffy gym and I’m usually training for an event.
Once October comes around, it’s too dark and cold for me to bike to work anymore so I hang up my cycling clothes and stow my bike for weekend rides only. I also head back into the gym to resume consistent weight lifting and swimming.
I definitely suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder. Some years it’s milder than others, it really just depends. Here in Portland, the constant gray and relentless rain can often last from December through May. That sucks. The rain is what gets me the worst. I try my best to avoid the winter blues. Exercise definitely helps!
And of course, there’s also the problems of the holidays. Surviving Halloween season is always a challenge, even years later. The temptations of Halloween and Christmas candies everywhere you turn is enough to derail anyone trying to lose weight! Did I mention Thanksgiving? PIE!! One of the things that has helped me keep off 100 pounds–year in and year out–even during the holidays is that I don’t quit what works. I keep exercising on a regular basis. While my activities may change with nasty weather, my consistent routine does not.
Lately I’ve been craving comfort foods: casseroles, mac n’ cheese, pasta, soup and grilled cheese sandwiches…basically carby things! I’ve been resisting thus far, or making a lighter version of the things I crave. I had a bowl of tomato soup with a piece of toast with cream cheese on it for dinner one night instead of the grilled cheese sandwich. It satisfied the craving (temporarily at least). Making “skinny” versions of the things I crave is what helps the most. One of the websites I’ve used a lot is SkinnyTaste. She has a ton of “lightened up” recipes for things like casseroles.
So do you struggle to stay on track during the darker months?
Is it harder to get up in the morning and get yourself to the gym?
Are you less motivated to workout after work when it’s dark and cold?
How do you change that? For me, what works is forcing myself to keep the normal fitness routine. It helps stave off the winter blues, it makes me feel better and keeps me healthy. I know how much better I will feel if I do it, so I do it!
It seems overly simplified, but it works. I wrote a post about how I track my food and exercise. Using something as simple as Google Calenders to track my and plan my workouts keeps me motivated, makes me feel accomplished and it makes it hard to BAIL on it. It’s on my calender. I’m going to do it!
This is not to say it’s always easy, but putter along taking the exercise and food one day at a time.
QUESTION: How do you deal with the changing seasons? What is the hardest struggle? Food or exercise?
I live in central Florida, where our season is basically….summer. I am also really fair and burn easily, so for me, I always prefer to exercise indoors. For example, it is 77 degrees right now, and that’s the coolest it’s been for as long as I can remember.
It makes working out and running outdoors kind of a challenge, but I honestly just cannot handle trying to jog outside every day in the 90 degree heat. Not to mention that I’d likely get a sunburn that would last a week. I have, however, discoverd Zumba! And I am newly in love with it, despite how terrible I am at anything resembling rhythm!
True! It definitely depends on where you live. During the summer, I read on twitter how many people in the south or southwest are miserable because of the heat and head into the gym. We’re the opposite here. I rarely go to the gym in the summer because I’m always outside.
It’s much nicer in the winter. Even the fall is hot these days, though 🙁
In the summer, though, you can feel the heat of the pavement through your shoes!
When I went on vacation to Tucson, I experienced that! Thankfully running early in the morning it wasn’t too bad yet.
I struggle more with food than exercise during the winter months. I love all the warm baked goods and creamy soups and all that. Plus the holiday cookies EEK! LOL. I tend to get up a little later for exercise when it is dark in the morning, but not that much as I tend to wake up at pretty much the same time every day without an alarm clock.
Lori recently posted..Frosty mornings
I am the same way! The exercise doesn’t usually suffer. I quite enjoy focusing on strength training in the winter. The food is always the hard part for me!
For me, it is SOOO much harder to get out and about in the dark months. I love getting my exercise in early, and some mornings, it feels like I’m getting up and out in the middle of the night. Fall is lovely, but a bit sad because I know we have many months of grey and rain ahead.
Roz@weightingfor50 recently posted..The Mushroom-logues
The darkness in the mornings are hard for me, too. It makes it really hard to get out of bed. It usually doesn’t effect my workouts since I do that at night instead.
Dark and cold affect me much more than just dark. I get up at 4 am everyday to work out as I prefer to get my workouts done before I go off to work. While I do take a couple of Muay Thai classes a week in the evenings, I am just not self motivated for my running and strength training at night so mornings it is. However, once the cold sets in too, I want to pull those covers up and snuggle in the bed a few more minutes. I don’t do it but I’ve often wished I could retrain myself to want to work out at night.
I’m dealing with an injury right now and I seem to be having a worse time than usual as I’m pretty restricted on what I can do. I think the timing with the days getting shorter is making it seem worse. But truly, even if I was well, when I walk through the door in the evenings, I just want to put on my pajamas and hibernate!
I admire your dedication getting up at 4am. If working out in the morning works for you, stick to it! I am the exact opposite. I can rarely motivate myself to do it in the mornings.
What injury are you dealing with?
2 stress fractures and a torn plantar tendon in my left foot. Went misdiagnosed for 5 months. Now I’m in a cam boot until at least November 9th. Completely knocked me off my cardio loving feet. Though I’m still getting up and doing strength training I just don’t love it. My run was always my reward for doing that ST and now with it gone I’m having a hard time feeling motivated to get up and get going.
Helen recently posted..Testing, Testing 1-2-3
I am so sorry! The stress fractures sound painful. Did you have surgery on the tendon? I hope you feel better soon, and on the bright side Nov 9th isn’t that far away.
I have the same struggles that you do. Last year, my SAD was so bad–and then didn’t go away once the sun came out–that I ended up on anti-depressants. I do have a number of “light” comfort foods to eat during the dark months–and my crock pots get A LOT of use! As for exercise, I’ve been trying to be as consistent as possible about going to the gym. However, I have two young children and sometimes parenting interferes with working out. The good thing, though, is that they love the child care center at my gym.
Melinda recently posted..Back at last
I am sorry to hear about your experiences with SAD. It’s rough. Because it’s seasonal, it’s hard to combat it. It’s not like we can just move to Hawaii or something. Have you tried the light box therapy?