Weather, Mood & Exercise

winter_depressionI don’t know about you, but now that it’s getting darker so much earlier, I’m having trouble adjusting to the time change.

But here’s something exciting: with the usual annual stress brought on by the time change, I think I’ve finally bid “Perfect Girl” mentality.

I used to wake up at 5:15 to the alarm with no trouble. Now I can’t even do it. It’s like I turned 29 (in October) and ever since, haven’t been able to do it.

In fact, I don’t even bother trying; I’m enjoying evening workouts and with my husband in class twice a week or studying, I am finding time each weeknight to go — even when I have my own dinner plans or after-work commitments.

This is a new “me” in so many ways. I’m not beating myself up for my inability (or lack of desire) to wake. This is huge, monumental!

Of course, when it’s cold out, all I want to do is be inside with my husband, the warm fire, a good book and a mug of cocoa. In fact, as I write this, the snow is coming down and it’s icky out. But I know I will hit the gym tonight; it’s in my DNA. Exercise makes me tick. I need it. I crave it.

I worried that with this recent “loosening the reins” mentality that I’d find myself skimping out on exercise, but rather, I am finding ways to work it in rather than building my life around it.

I’ve learned, when you want something bad enough — you find a way to make it happen. Take tonight, for example. I have therapy after work. But my husband will most likely need to study at some point tonight, so I’ll probably hit the gym after we have dinner. It’ll get done. And if it doesn’t, so what? Tomorrow’s a new day, a clean slate, a fresh start.

In retrospect, I don’t know why I was so nervous about “letting go” a little of the regimented workout schedule I was so wed to; I’ve still made it to the gym or outside every workout I’d intended upon for the most part –still 6 days a week.

For me, working out in the winter, especially, boosts my mood. It helps stave off winter weight gain, but more than that, it gives me a sense of vitality in an otherwise sedentary lifestyle (with a full-time job).

In fact, without exercise, I’d be a pretty miserable person. I feel good about myself after a workout, and good about my body. Even when I’m having a “fat day,” seeing sweat glisten on my body or feeling the tightness in my hamstrings (a good tight) reminds me of just how “worth it” that hour at the gym really is, for my mind, body and soul.

So even though my internal voice says, “Stay here where it’s warm, don’t go!” I know that I’m doing my heart, brain and body a hell of a lot more good for going to the gym. Even if it’s not at 5:30 a.m. anymore, I know myself: I still get the job done.

And that’s something to be proud of. Besides, the cocoa and fire and warm blankets will be there when I get home.

How about you? How does weather affect your mood?

17 thoughts on “Weather, Mood & Exercise

  1. The weather really affects my mood. Some days the gloominess of the sky makes me feel gloomy too! Exercise is the best way to boost my mood…and like you–I feel so much more confident after a good workout, even on fat days. I’m getting better at the guilt aspect of it–I try not to feel guilty and know that my body also needs sleep and days off of working out to stay healthy.

  2. I totally wonder if I have SAD (that seasonal affective disorder) because all too often I get bummed with the weather — esp living here in brrrrrr Michigan now. Great attitude, Krystyna.

  3. Hey Mara, come here for encouragement on those days — we all know “becoming a lump” won’t help our minds OR our bodies. πŸ™‚

  4. I started suffering from SAD probably in college…although at the time I never really put two and two together. Even though the past few winters I have not, I still get the winter blues every now and then. For me I just miss seeing people outside…the world seems kind of dead! I completely agree that working out helps, though. Not only do you get the endorphins going, but for me it’s important because I actually get to be around a big group of people (other than co-workers and fellow shoppers!).

  5. Hi Holly, that’s a really good point about a communal gym — people!! Though a brisk couple laps around the mall can do the body good, it’s usually painful on my wallet πŸ™‚

  6. I can totally relate. There have been mornings where I wake at 5:20 am and take teh dog out to pee, and it’s just way to cold for the 4 minute walk to the gym. So I decide warmth and heat is better. And I roll over and pack clothes to workout during lunch and after work at the office gym.

    I still haven’t let go of the fact that I can miss a day though. In fact, even the days I don’t work out a little in the morning, I feel antsy all morning until I get a workout in during lunch. But I think loosening up my stringent schedule on some days is good. I still have to keep it stringent on days when I am tight on time though.

  7. Sheena, you’ll get there. Everyone does eventually; we get to a place where we realize we don’t NEED to work out obsessively, we don’t NEED to feel guilty when we miss a workout. (and “missing” a workout doesn’t mean 6 days vs. 7; in my mind, “missing” would mean going 2-3 times a week when you typically go 5-6). Maybe you can try to focus on why you feel so antsy about it? It sounds like you always have two other opportunities each day, so maybe focus on those?

    I think it’s GREAT for you (all of us) to loosen up sometimes; give a little more freedom to the reins and live a little. Reading your posts, I seriously could have written them myself a year ago. You’re not alone — and there is hope.

  8. All I know is that the cold weather and the missing sun makes me want to sleep all day and eat more πŸ˜›

    There are days that I really don’t want to go to my dance classes, first, because they’re really late (8pm to 11pm) and second, i have to walk 30min in the cold to get to the studio. But I realized that even if I’d rather stay home, I feel good as soon as the class starts and I forget about being tired.

    In fact, I love the cold weather and the snow πŸ˜› It makes me wanna cuddle and I don’t feel like I NEED to do something on the weekends: I don’t feel bad about watching movies all day or just relax with a book.

  9. LOL … good for you doing it though!! Isn’t it so true, we forget about the troubles, the tiredness, the cold, once we get moving. I sooo didn’t want to do yardwork Sunday with my husband (it was COLD) but once we got moving, it was not so bad — and I torched some calories raking and schlepping leaves πŸ™‚

    And so true – if you exercise the other days of the week, resting on the wkds isn’t a bad thing. I am still working on that one; I feel compelled to do it, when I have time, even if I don’t want to.

  10. I hear what you’re saying. I could never wake up in the winter early and hit the gym, but I love doing it in the evenings because you’re not sitting at home in the dark, you’re doing something productive.

    I’ve too just recently given myself permission to listen to my body and let that determine when I’m done working out at the gym. It’s funny because I don’t do a lot less exercise, but I don’t have the guilt when I do a little less than I used to MAKE myself do.

    Like you say, giving yourself permission takes a huge load off your shoulders, but it’s kind of validating too, that I do like to work out, so I don’t need to “force” myself to do it.

  11. Great point, Leila – better be out and about than home in the dark — def. something to be said for that.

    I’m with you — like now, I might stop at 3 or 4 APs where before I’d push myself for 4 or 5. Sanity is worth more.

    And what a good mindset: I like to work out, so I don’t need to force myself to do it.

  12. Good for you! I think that is a major step.

    I’ve had to forgive myself a little as well on the morning wake-up as, like you, I’ve struggled since the time changed.

    Either way, I try to fit it in and if I don’t, well, there’s tomorrow! πŸ˜‰

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