the joy of strength training


December 12th, 2008 at 4:27 pm

Good habits

Winter exercise 
Photo: sarcozona

You know what, guys? I am feeling crap at the moment. I am tired, listless and unmotivated. It’s dark and cold outside and it is really difficult to heave my ass out of bed in the morning. I am eating like crap, drinking too much wine and feel a few pounds too heavy.

So what I am going to do about it?

Here’s what:

1. Get my diet in order. Almost everything is down to diet in the end. If you eat like crap, you are more likely to feel tired and listless – even though you’ll tell yourself that it is because you are working really hard and life is busy. I am lucky in that having eaten well in the past, I know exactly what needs to be in my fridge and how to spread it out throughout the day. It is simply a question of doing it. Eating well should be a good habit.

2. Maintain a positive attitude. It is very easy to feel sorry for yourself, make excuses and pile on the excess because ‘there’s no point trying’. But this will change nothing and gets pretty boring eventually. I am not very good at appreciating small changes or a little progress – I would prefer things to come on in leaps and bounds. But in training it is the accumulation of tiny improvements over a period of time that can result in great leaps forward at crucial points such as competitions.

3. Get to bed early. There’s nothing like sleep for rest, recovery and rejuvenation. People who are listless and lacking in energy often aren’t sleeping very well. Personally I need to get back into the habit of reading in bed as it sends me off to sleep pretty quickly! Plus I might get through the many unread tomes on my bookcase.

4. Cut down on the alcohol. I like a drink (especially wine) and this time of year it is hard to avoid. I’m not going to give it up – heck, it’s the only vice I’ve got left these days! But I will limit the amount I consume. As a current TV ad campaign is pointing out, ‘ it all adds up’ and when you get to my age, a few glasses of wine a week translates into reduced sporting performance.

5. Maintain the habit of exercise. Boris of SqautRX recently wrote a pithy post about motivation which I encourage you to read. In essence he says that motivation comes and goes; what makes the difference is training even when you don’t feel like it. In other words maintain the habit of exercise, don’t hang around waiting to get motivated. I have had to reduce my training in the last week or two because I am tapering for a competition. But rather than just cut out the heavy lifting, I have ended up doing nothing at all under the guise of ‘tapering’. I have got out of the habit. I don’t need motivation to start again, I just need to start again.

And that’s it! I could easily make a huge long list of things to do but the pareto principle applies – these are the things that will make the biggest difference. There’s nothing too onerous in that list, nothing that will take an extra special effort of will. In fact it’s almost embarrassing that I can’t stick to these simple things but I guess it happens to most of us at some point.

I’ve noticed that the fitness forums are getting quieter in the run-up to Christmas. People are busier, there’s less time to train or chat about training. So it is an ideal time to remind ourselves that success is really about maintaining the good habits we have worked to develop. I don’t think anyone who reads this blog is a ‘join the gym in January, leave in February’ type of person. We know what we need to do, it is just a matter of doing it.

Hey, I feel better already!

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  • 1

    “If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.”
    Frank Clark

    What separates winners from losers is the courage to persist long enough to win. — David Cottrell

    So much for motivation quotes 🙂
    You know what ? I feel exactly the same ! May be it’s winter time, may be I’m just bit burned from all that work, exercise etc. but be assured you are not alone here (symptoms are the very same – I’m tired, I feel like sh*t, my diet is crap in those days etc.etc.)

    Competition ? Which one, share a details !

    So again, stand up and fight again. Good luck

    Petr R. on December 12th, 2008
  • 2

    Cheers Petr, nice to know I’m not alone!

    I’ve got a powerlifting competition this Sunday – my first! It is a relatively low key regional event; my main aim is to qualify for the nationals next year.

    gubernatrix on December 12th, 2008
  • 3

    I feel exactly the same and it is s**t! I always put on 2-3 kilos in the winter, then Feb, March comes and my motivation is raging again. I have come to accept this and go with it, I call it my winter body! Dont beat yourself up too much, I think it is quite normal.

    Littleredhead on December 12th, 2008
  • 4

    So again, good luck with your competition, give as more details on Monday will you ?
    Fingers crossed

    Petr R.

    Petr R. on December 12th, 2008
  • 5

    It is the same here. I think it is the lack of daylight and sun that gets to me. Just 2-3 hours of sunlight a day now, and that time I have to spend indoors at work 🙁

    I should probably get one of those lightboxes, but too expensive. Time for the northern latitudes winter depression! Just one way to fix that, with a will of steel and a trip to the canary islands 🙂

    Rolfe on December 13th, 2008
  • 6

    As one of my Exercise Gurus wrote: Do, what You Can Do!

    Good Luck, Good Lift!

    Demetre on December 13th, 2008
  • 7

    Thanks all for your support! It’s good to know that other people understand.

    @ Rolfe: It must be tough up north (whereabouts are you?)! My sister lived in St Petersburg for a year and always said how difficult it was to keep going through the winter when it only gets light at 11am and gets dark again at 3pm! I went to visit her during this time and found I wanted to eat loads because it was so dark and cold.

    gubernatrix on December 13th, 2008
  • 8

    I am at 64deg North, so a fair bit north of St. Petersburg. I am looking at investing in one of those lightboxes, it must be the lack of sun that gives us these “downs” during the darkest winter. It is probably something to consider even in the south of GB.

    Good luck with your competition. Bet you will be super-psyched and have a memorable experience.

    Rolfe on December 13th, 2008
  • 9


    gubernatrix on December 13th, 2008
  • 10

    Ah, not Reykjavik but “close”. Northwest coast of Norway, in the middle of the best climbing, skiing and watersports area.

    Rolfe on December 14th, 2008
  • 11

    Sounds awesome! At least you get incredibly long days in the summer.

    gubernatrix on December 16th, 2008
  • 12

    Your are spot on in the need to reduce alcohol to develop lean muscle mass.

    lean_muscle_fitness on December 26th, 2008
  • 13

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