Between snow flurries and the flurry of holiday parties, December is probably the hardest time of year to stick to a workout schedule. And who cares? Loved ones — and rum punch — should take precedence over downward facing dog at this time of year. However. Eventually you're gonna have to take down that mistletoe, put away the ugly holiday sweaters, and get back into your non-holiday routine, including your exercise routine. How do you get from point A to point Back To The Gym?
1. Try something new
A new class. A new gym. A new activity. Getting yourself motivated to start exercising again after a break is the hard part (once you start, you'll remember that it's really not the absolute worst thing in the world). So try tricking yourself into thinking you're embarking on a new adventure, not just a new week of working out. Venture into strange surroundings! Examine the novel props and customs! You, ma'am, are an intrepid Exercise Explorer. Or Anthropologist. Whatever works for you. Just try something new, okay? It'll probably help.
2. Use your debate skills
So you know your slacker brain's gonna try and convince you to stay in bed and watch Netflix instead of go for a jog. Try coming up in advance with counter-arguments your future slacker self will be powerless against. This involves figuring out what, exactly, is demotivating you and then removing those obstacles. Ohhhh, but it's too cold outside? Good thing you already bookmarked some online yoga workouts you can do from your bedroom (in front of the space heater if necessary). Oh, you won't have time to shower afterward if you want to get to that happy hour on time? Good thing you packed some dry shampoo! Etc.
3. Use people
It's the oldest fitness trick in the book, but that's probably because it's one of the few things that really, consistently works. When all else fails, enlist a more motivated buddy to be your exercise partner. You'll feel too shamed by their enthusiasm and commitment to skip out more than once every three times.
4. Start a blog
This is analogous to using a workout buddy to motivate you, except instead of one person you use the whole Internet. Pick a workout goal. Declare it on social media. Keep track of your progress in some public and pre-determined form. It doesn't matter what your goal is or what medium you use. Whether you're posting on Facebook about your 30-day CrossFit challenge or keeping a Tumblr about the tap dance DVD you vow to do three nights a week, the point is simply accountability. We're much more likely to stick to things when we've set an intention and told others about it.
5. Be short and sweet
One of the things that always kills my exercise motivation is the idea of taking a whole hour out of my day for this noise. I don't have that kind of time (there are blogs to read and Dexter re-runs to watch!). If you feel similarly, focus on working out smarter, not longer. "It’s a big misconception that you need a lot of time at the gym to get results," writes health coach and spin instructor Amanda Shapin. "Truthfully, if you’re working out correctly all you need is about 20 minutes of intense fitness to see results and benefit from the workout. Instead of running at a steady pace on the treadmill for an hour, challenge yourself to a shorter run made up of sprints or increased incline (or both!) intervals."
6. Take notes
How do you feel after a workout? Usually pretty awesome, right? Maybe accomplished. Maybe less moody. Maybe that good kind of tired that makes you feel a little bit high. Write it down. Be it in your planner, a special notebook, a designated desktop Stickie, whatever. Take notes after good workouts about how you feel and why, and then look back these when you're debating between a power walk and opening a beer. You can still open the beer post power walk — after you write down how awesome you feel, obviously.