Here in the Northern Hemisphere, summer has bid us farewell and we’re moving towards the long months of winter. For those of us who live in climates—like Canada’s!—where exercising outdoors gets harder to do with snow and ice on the trails and roads, it can be so easy to lose our motivation for fitness.
It's All About the Mindset
So, what can you do when you don't necessarily have a 5K or another race to train for? How do you stay active?
Change the way you think about exercise!
Fitness is a daily, lifetime pursuit. Even when there’s not another marathon or triathlon on your training schedule, you should be finding ways to stay off the couch and keep healthy.
Planning Makes It Happen
My favorite tool for staying active—one that I’ve used in my own life for more than 20 years—is planning my month in advance. I plan an activity for every day on the calendar, usually five moderate-to-heavy workouts and two lighter activities (e.g. taking a walk) per week, and I check them off as I do what’s on the calendar. Keeping those goals in mind really helps me stay focused—most of the time, I do at least 90% of what I had scheduled (because yes, sometimes life happens and I have to skip a day or two ☺).
if you’d like a peek at what my calendar looks like—it’s in a video I made about staying motivated.)
How will keeping a calendar in this way help you with motivation? First, it gives you accountability, to have specific goals that you want to reach. Better than that, though, you’ll feel good about yourself as you see that you’re checking off your to-do list. There’s a lot of satisfaction in seeing that you are meeting your goals on a daily, weekly, even monthly basis.
So, how should you approach this calendar planning? You’ll want to take an approach that isn’t overwhelming or time-consuming, and I find that the best way is to make a monthly calendar—sitting down just once a month to make a plan, rather than trying to do it on a weekly basis. You don’t have to have a schedule as busy as mine; maybe your goal will be three times a week, gradually building to four or five workouts.
This is a great way to keep yourself on track with daily, weekly, and monthly goals—always reminding yourself of how well you’re doing. It’s really easy to think we’re doing better than we think we are, or to go the other way and not give ourselves enough credit for all that we’ve accomplished.
Fitness isn’t about running a race, finishing it, and that’s it. That’s a great goal to have, but what do you aim for when the race is over? Using your monthly calendar can help you have those goals and keep yourself progressing even when you don’t have a specific race in mind.