You hate them—winter workouts.
It’s dark, dingy and cold out there. Your bed is calling. You can’t kick your after-work, couch-and-chips affair. Then—on the way to the fridge—you see that crazy neighbor lady out the front window. She’s running in 10 degree weather. The profanities fly.
If you’re wondering how those women have the will power you pledged you’d have after two glasses of wine on New Year’s Eve, I’m going to let you in on their secret. They’re “pack” rats. It’s the main quality they posses that you don’t. Become a pack rat and you’ll never miss a workout again. (Ok that’s pushing it, but you’ll miss 75% less.)
Here’s how to acquire pack rat status and start relishing the results of those winter workouts:
Your Number One Rule
You pack a bag every night and take it with you in the morning. Period. Feel free to tell yourself you aren’t going to work out tomorrow. But you still must throw that workout bag in your trunk or over your shoulder before you go out the door.
Invest in a Few Items If you don’t have these things, you’ll need them:
- Light nylon backpack (for easy days)
- Compact hair dryer (if your gym doesn’t provide)
- Make-up bag
These are essential. And if money is not a problem for you, double up on your make up and hair products. (I learned this when I left my make-up bag at home on the day of a big presentation.)
Pack Work Clothes Every Weekend
Every weekend spend 20 minutes picking out six outfits for the week. (The sixth is for a finicky day when you need a choice.) Iron and hang them in your closet. Consciously place them in the order you’ll wear them, so you don’t have to make any clothes decisions in the morning. If you have jeans day on Friday, jeans go last. If you have a presentation on Monday, your best outfit goes first.
Pack Your Workout Bag Every Night
This is annoying but crucial. Sunday night is no problem, but for the rest of the week, you’ll need to pack tomorrow’s bag as soon as you walk in the door. If it has been a long day, play games with yourself. Tell yourself you can’t eat. You can’t sit. Heck, don’t even go to the bathroom until tomorrow’s bag is packed.
Here’s your in-the-door routine:
- Go directly to your bedroom and unload today’s workout stuff.
- Select tomorrow’s work outfit (it’s in order, no thinking required) and hang it somewhere in the open so you don’t forget it in the morning.
- Pack matching work accessories and undergarments in your backpack.
- Tie your shoelaces together and hang your workout shoes on the outside of your backpack so you can see them. (Packing them inside is dangerous. One day you’ll forget them. Trust me.)
- Place your backpack under tomorrow’s outfit.
- Place your workout clothes in the bathroom so that you immediately put them on in the morning. (If you are working out after work, reverse it. Workout clothes in backpack, work clothes in bathroom.)
- Pack your lunch. (I pack mine two days at a time—sometimes three.)You’re ready. In the morning—just grab everything and go.
Dealing with the Morning Slump
What if you can’t get out of bed or just can’t face a four mile run? You compromise. Tell yourself you are only going to do half your workout—or a quarter of your workout. The sound of a one-mile walk is much more tolerable than a three-mile jaunt. Just go—you are already packed!
On Mondays, plan your workout at noon or after work. It took me a ton of years to realize I didn’t hate Sunday nights, I just couldn’t bare that Monday morning workout.
Find a Great Workout Book
If you are like me, you don’t have a lot of time to read. Get a book you can’t put down. That’s helped me log hundreds of miles. I’ve read the best books in winter on the exercise bike. Use the elliptical, treadmill, whatever you prefer.
Take a Few Final Tips from Someone Who rarely Misses a Winter Workout
* If you drive to work, keep an extra towel and an old pair of workout shoes in the trunk. (The towel is in case your gym’s washer breaks down, and the shoes? You’ll figure it out.)
* Find workout buddies and meet them twice a week. (Preferably chatty people.) This gives you “double pack rat ” status.
* Get a big purse. Keep your kindle (or paperback), iPhone, iPod, and watch in your purse at all times. (You ‘gotta love those big Coach purses!)
*Keep a pair of black, blue, beige and off-white shoes underneath your desk at work. Never take them home. (Less packing.)
* Pick one of these books up for the long winter and pass them around to your workout buddies:
Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult
The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Keeping Faith by Jodi Picoult
Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
South of Broad by Pat Conroy