By Dr. Michael Cerami
Well it’s over. Our amazing Fall weather has finally made the shift to Winter. I find these changes can play havoc with our fitness and exercise routines, especially this year with our extended summer.
If you struggle to maintain the accumulated fitness you’ve worked all year to achieve or just want to get an early start on the upcoming season, here are a few pointers that have worked for me over the years.
Start NOW: Even if you don’t have a specific plan, try and get yourself up and doing something 4-5 days a week. After a few weeks of re-training your waking and sleeping habits you’ll be ready to add in the specific workouts you want to accomplish. If I can hit the holidays feeling like I’ve got a good routine going I’m much more content eating that extra piece of pumpkin pie. I really believe you shouldn’t punish yourself for the 6 weeks between Thanksgiving and New Years. Celebrate the holidays, but be accountable for starting your exercise routine.
Keep a log: Building momentum is crucial to all human beings. Without feedback we get distracted and bored. Imagine if you decided to get up every morning to practice your tennis game and never kept track of your improvements. Most likely you wouldn’t keep doing it. Use one of the many apps available on your phone or the internet to keep track of your invested time, the time you did the activity, and what you noticed. After committing to a month of this, you’ll feel proud as you look back over what you’ve accomplished. Salt Lake Running Co. has a training app just for this purpose. Together with Asics, they have made a great training partner for you. To access the app, go here.
Use technology…carefully: I personally don’t run outside with music, but I do when I run on a on a treadmill. What I’ve found that works is a combination of new music and old standbys. For the new music I download podcasts of topics I enjoy or recorded techno music that has a high BPM (beat per minute) count. This way someone else does all the programming and I can focus on my ride or run. There is so much available via iTunes and the internet today you can almost be certain to find something you like. My favorites are NPR programs, triathlon podcasts, TED talks, and TV shows that friends have recommended. The only caveat I would be aware of is making sure you don’t get too dependent on outside stimulus to motivate you or it may turn into a crutch you can’t do without.
Change your routine every 6-8 weeks: Your body craves change and as much as your mind wants consistency, your body needs to “shake it up” a few times per year. Try committing to 6 weeks without missing a day in your routine with the prize of completion being able to swap your weight lifting times with your biking sessions or something new. I find this is where it’s great to have a coach to lay out a plan for you so you have some unexpected adventure built into your workouts.
Get your nutrition dialed in: Make a conscious effort to improve the quality of your food today. Because it’s such a big task (we eat 15-25 times per week) it may take years to get it right and every week that passes means you are building cells that aren’t as healthy as they should be. The long term effect of poor nutrition will be increased disease and poor health in your later years. Your diet during the winter training months will look substantially different from your summer foods depending on what’s readily available and what you enjoy. If you would like a free copy of our “Food Recall” journal, call the office or stop by and pick one up.
Dr. Michael Cerami owns Utah Sports and Wellness and has been a competitive triathlete for over 18 years. He is available for a no charge consultation one Saturday per month at The Salt Lake Running Company (700 East store) by appointment. He can be reached at 801-486-1818 or online at www.utahsportsandwellness.com