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The days are getting shorter, the weather is getting wetter and colder, and suddenly the after work drinks and festive foods become very appealing indeed.
The temptation is to press ‘pause’ on our training and say ‘I will start again in January’. This can result in an endless yearly cycle of training hard in the new year, letting it slip in Easter, training hard before our summer holiday, letting it slip in Autumn, and stopping altogether around Christmas! It can be demoralising to go through the same motions every year with no overall progression.
If you can follow these tips through the winter, you will arrive on January 1st having enjoyed your festive period, without losing too much fitness, or maybe none at all!
Increase your NEAT
This stands for ‘Non Exercise Activity Thermogenesis’ and basically means all the movement we do away from exercise which contribute to our daily caloric burn. Every time you take the stairs instead of the lift, walk to the meeting instead of taking the tube, or just getting up to move or stretch at work, you are increasing your NEAT. Not only does this increase your calorie burn throughout the day, it also is great for our overall health, lowering our risk of Heart Disease to name just one.
All those little decisions add up, so start by just moving more.
Calendarise your training
On a summer evening it is mentally easier to pop to the gym after work, or go for a run in the evening sun, now that the clocks have gone back the nicer option is the armchair in the pub next to the fire place.
If you calendarise your training, as you would a work meeting, you are more likely to keep yourself accountable and not let something else take it’s place. If you can find time first thing in the morning or over your lunch break, it will allow you to tick off exercise and still enjoy the drink in the evening if you so please! Furthermore, exercising in the daylight has added benefits to both mental and physical health.
Experiment and play
This isn’t necessarily the best time of year to be following a strict training plan (but hats off to you if you are!) You know the motivation will be there in the new year, so now is a great time to try new things.
Why not try a new training style, a new gym, or a new sport? This is a great time to experiment with new training styles, and one of the easiest ways is with classes. Not only do you get an instructor who can help you with form and technique, but you also get the bonus of exercising in a group, which can be really motivating and fun.
Try the spin class, yoga class, pilates, strongman, whatever it might be, and reap the benefits, and have fun in the process!
If your workplace provides fitness classes on-site, this is obviously a very convenient (and cheap!) way to get your exercise in for the week, but if they don’t, try a trial membership on ‘Class Pass’ app which can give you access to hundreds of studios across London.
Finally, training is not all about burning as many calories as possible. This is a great time to pick a smaller goal you can focus on before Christmas that isn’t focussed on the mirror or the scales. Maybe try and achieve your first pull up, or complete your first park run. Most importantly, just move!