I've noticed throughout my life in martial arts and fitness training, that around this time of year people start to slow down, train less, motivation becomes an issue that as a coach you have to stay on top of, and like all the good leaders I've had in life; this is the time where I try to kick things up a notch.
I've got a few theories about why the slowdown happens around this time every year.
1. JANUARY - THE GREAT SPEED UP
We all set ourselves goals around this time of year, lose weight, join a club, learn something new. Whilst some people look down at a good old fashioned New Years resolution, spouting the pessimistic rhetoric of "no one really sticks to them" I for one love it! It's such an optimistic and motivational time of year, everyone is determined to make a change for the better, there's a different energy in the air. Not to mention it is clearly the best time of the year for business! However, and going back to the main point, it seems like a long time ago now, and it is, as the January carbo - bloated negatives would have you believe very difficult to keep up the motivation for this long. But hey, what do they know? I think it's just about changing your mind set from motivated to disciplined and this is something that everyone can do, they just need a little guidance. We're almost there guys, one last push and that beautiful January motivational nectar will flow once again and we can set ourselves new goals.
2. IT'S STARTING TO GET COLD AND WET... IT'S BUMMING ME OUT.
Why did you have to leave us summer? You were so warm and inviting this year, we all loved hanging out with you but like an Aussie on a career break, we all knew you would have to go back south for our winter, and we've just been waiting for the day you leave us with grey clouds and mild depression.
It's the most difficult time of the year to motivate yourself to do anything, it's dark when you go to work, it's dark when you get out of work, it rains all the time and it's cold. It's a lot easier to go running in the summer, a lot easier to walk to work or to the gym, in essence it's just easier to be healthy in the summer, but my mindset is, who the hell wants easy? Nothing in life that's worth having comes easy. This is the time of year you find out who you really are, have you been committed all year and starting to wain? Good, now's the time to give the weather the finger and knuckle down, get drenched on an after work run, prep your waterproofs for your way to the gym, because the time you spend working now, is the time that shows next summer and I for one want to satisfy my vanity and get shredded.... I mean, ummm, live a healthy lifestyle and feel good and stuff.
3. OH MY GOOD GOD DON'T CARBS TASTE BETTER THIS TIME OF YEAR...
There is a pretty solid reason for this, you tend to burn more calories during the cold winter months, so your body is definitely going to crave more carbohydrates. If we are to concede that there are summer foods and winter foods, then summer is definitely the season of light lunches and fresh vibrant salads, whereas winter is the bangers and mash, Sunday roast, takeaway season. I've always gone on the basis that carbohydrates are absolutely fine as long as you use them as energy for recovery, so I'll tend to workout before I put the carbs in, and I'll try and restrict them on days where I can't work out. But I'm part of the masses here, I bloody love a pie and mash doused in gravy followed by half a cheesecake and a side of shame. So how do we get around this delicious problem, the answer I've come to realise is you kind of don't. Think of it this way, if you worked out and ate well for 5 days out of the week, and then let yourself indulge for one or two days over the weekend, you'd feel pretty good about yourself, and your net amount of time working out and dieting would far outweigh the time you didn't; this applies to the year as a whole, your net for the year is now ALWAYS going to be swinging in favour of healthy and active, there's only a couple of months left and then January comes round and we're all at it like crazy again. Now i'm not saying just take the entire winter off and scoff your faces and not exercise, what I'm saying is do what I do with my winter diet, don't kill yourself over the extra calories, you need them and they taste good, just try and keep up the exercise and go into next year knowing you did alright in this one.
99.9% of us are just trying to keep in shape and be healthy, always remember that the Instagram fitness models, that have been killing themselves for a photo shoot only to blow up again the next week are the 0.1% and we don't need to model ourselves on them. We are real people who are going into winter like the men of the nights watch through that creepy tunnel, and on the other side is a cold brick wall, let's smash through it and look after each other. If you're looking for someone to help you, then come to me.
Peace, Love and hard work.