Just because summer is over, doesn’t mean your fitness has to be.
Now that summer is over and fall has begun, it is sometimes challenging to find new motivation to push yourself and to stay on top of your fitness goals. During the summer we tend to be doing more outdoor activities and we are more motivated to be in shape for swimsuit season. As winter comes closer we have to battle the not-so-healthy quick lunches, easy dinners, drinks with friends, and all of the holiday parties from Halloween through the New Year. Then, we all deal with the emotional blackmail of staring in the mirror and realizing there is no way you will be seen in a bathing suit at the beach without getting back into some sort of presentable shape.
What ever your situation, it is painful when another summer rolls around and you have thrown away everything you worked hard by letting your fitness and nutrition dwindle. The lesson we must learn over the winter is to continue to work on our fitness goals. This doesn’t mean training more and becoming an antisocial “Nigel no mates” (kiwi term, no offence to any Nigels out there). Here are some tips on keeping up your fitness through the fall and winter the season and how to make the transition into next summer seamless. You have opportunity to reach new heights with your fitness.
The relationship between exercise frequency, duration and intensity is important to understand. Everyone is different and has a different “sweet spot” for training volume they can tolerate within a given time period. Listen to your body to figure out where your optimal training load is. If your performance drops off significantly during the week of training (for example, you start getting colds or have trouble sleeping) you could be overtraining. Very high intensity workouts should not go longer than 30-40 minutes and should only be performed 2-4 times per week for the majority of people. This can be used to our benefit, because lets face it, we are all busy and if we can get results with less vs more gym time then that’s a no brainer. It’s worth noting that overtraining amongst non-professional trainees is very common. We often think the more we train the better our results will be, especially those of us that get in shape for a trip the week before we leave doing 3-a-days. Sometimes less is more, and overtraining or inadequate rest can destroy results and sometimes health.
Set an Absolute Base
And stick to it!! There are 10,080 minutes in a week. You need to set aside a minimum of 90 of them to workout. Aim to set an easily achievable baseline of exercise you MUST complete weekly. Make this a weekly fixed outline of compulsory workouts that you KNOW there will be no excuse to not complete. This will stop that surrender to ‘flabby’ we have all been guilty of over winter months. The bare minimum for anyone should be at least two workouts per week that include 25-30 minutes of low/no rest weight training and 10-15 minutes of high intensity interval training. Shorter, high intensity workouts cause permanent and significant metabolic adaptions that ramp up your metabolic functioning both in action and at rest.
The Health-Fitness-Lifestyle Crossover
So, I don’t intend to sound too much like Tony Robbins here, but the ability to test your mental strength in a fitness setting (this is both the discipline of getting your workouts in and the ability to push yourself in the gym) will crossover into your life. This is the entire point of working out: to improve yourself not just physically but also mentally. Always look to push yourself to the next level so that every aspect of your life may benefit.
Get Your Cardio In
You must complete at least one long duration session of low-intensity cardio in per week. If you have a heart rate monitor use this formula: 180 minus your age. What ever that number, subtract 20 and these two numbers will be your long duration BPM training zone (Eg 180-40= 140. Your training zone will be 120-140 BPM). Dr Phillip Maffetone has promoted this concept to significantly increasing stroke volume efficiency of the heart. This formula burns fat while minimizing the stress response somewhat so this activity will not contribute to overtraining and will actually help revitalize the body’s muscles and organ tissue and the brain. This can be easily achieved by hiking, running, SUP, kayaking, swimming, cycling, trampoline, snowboarding, surfing, etc. It is more important not to go over your ceiling heart rate (180 minus age) than to go under the floor heart rate.
Get Extra Rest
As winter draws near, use the colder weather as an excuse to treat yourself to a sleep-in. It has been proven that lack of sleep and stress dramatically delays any exercise results and contributes largely to disease in western countries. Getting extra sleep when possible will help diminish the excess stress response associated with belly fat and poor health. For a detailed look at stress I suggest watching the documentary by national geographic documentary “Stress: Portrait of a killer”, its free on YouTube.
Find a source of exercise that’s fun. While this is much easier in summer, we do live in Southern California, not the Arctic Circle and there is certainly plenty of fun activities to take part in. Fun and social activities that gets your body moving.