If you want to get the most out of life then there is one important way to do so: to try. While you may never be able to guarantee that you'll get what you want, if you don't try then you'll never give yourself the opportunity to get there at all. If you want to get into shape (and stay in shape), if you want to further your career and if you want to improve your relationships – it all takes motivation and you have to be 'in it to win it'.
That's all good and well, but sometimes our motivation just fails us. In particular this tends to happen more as we reach the cold winter months. You get out of bed ready for the day ahead, you look out the window and all you're greeted with is grey clouds and a thin veil of rain. You step out the door and it's freezing... wouldn't it just be easier to stay indoors and go back to bed in the warm?
Sadly this kind of attitude won't get you very far (particularly if you're in the UK like me, meaning that over 50% of the year fits the above description). So how do you go about staying motivated when it's such cold weather and keep up your work ethic, your training routine and your enthusiasm for life? Here are a few tips that can help you to bear the cold a little better...
Get a Daylight Lamp
Daylight lamps are lamps that create a similar wavelength of light to the actual sun, thus making you feel like you're outdoors in warm weather and stimulating the same vitamin D production. You can get alarm clock daylight lamps which work by gradually getting brighter as morning comes around and this is particularly effective as a way to start your day with high energy levels as it mimics the way we are evolved to wake up (our body looks for external 'zeitgebers' to regulate our internal body clock and it is better to be gently brought round rather than to be jolted out of sleep). It might be dark outside but as far as your body will be concerned you'll have just woken up to a brilliant sun rise after a full sleep. This can also help you to combat 'SAD' or Seasonal Affective Disorder, which is caused partly by the lack of natural sunlight.
Get the Temperature Right
If your home is freezing cold when you wake up in the morning then you're hardly going to be motivated to get up out of bed and face the outdoors. At the same time though, if you keep your home too toasty this can have the opposite effect and make it all too tempting to stay in when you need to go outside to go to the gym.
The best balance then is to keep your home warm enough to be comfortable, but crisp enough to keep you alert and switched on so that you aren't tempted to curl up into hibernation.
Manage Your Energy Levels
Another way the winter weather can damage your wakefulness is by draining your energy. When it's cold, your body will use up a lot of energy just to stay warm meaning that you'll have less energy for everything else. Likewise, the darkness outside will send cues to your body that it's time to go back to bed and the combination of these factors will make it difficult for you to do a workout or work late.
The solution here is to find other ways to boost your energy and to compensate for that low baseline. An obvious way to do this is just by eating lots of complex carbs in the morning, which will provide your body with a steady supply of energy to get you started and to snack regularly throughout the rest of the day. You should also aim to get plenty of sleep (you should get more in winter) and a strong cup of coffee to help you combat tiredness in the morning.
Make Life Easier
A more direct approach is to simply reduce the impact that bad weather has on you and to find ways to prevent it being a problem. For example, you can counteract the impact of cold weather by finding ways to avoid going outside – keeping your car in a garage for instance and adding an automated garage door can make it much easier for you to get to work and many other places without having to get cold. Similarly you could always create a home gym so that you can keep in shape even when you're not motivated to head outside. What can also help a surprising amount is just to have some good layers to wear that will keep you warm even when you're trekking through town or waiting for the bus.