Tips for Finding Motivation in the Winter Months

Ask Ashley Koff, RD, Calmful Living Nutrition Editor


“It’s freezing outside. I am so unmotivated and cold. I don’t want to go through another winter gaining weight, but I feel stuck. Any ideas?” —Frozen & Fat


Oh, do I hear you! Not only is it freezing, it’s also dark—when we wake and at, like, 4:00 p.m. If we listened to nature, we should do half the work and just stay in bed. Unfortunately, that doesn’t work for most days; so here are some tips to get the most out of winter, nutrition- and fitness-wise, so that spring doesn’t spring upon us feeling totally ick.

    1. Find your winter motivation

One thing is certain: you won’t achieve a goal if you don’t have one. If you have one, there’s at least a chance you can achieve it. Is it your swimsuit, your favorite spring outfit, a race, the size of your waist? Recently Dr. Oz’s trainer, Joel Harper, shared with me and the audience that we all are motivated by different things. Take a moment to imagine yourself on a beautiful spring day—what gets you excited? What brings a smile? What will help get you out of bed this winter thinking about the end result in April? Pick that thing and write it down somewhere where you will see it daily. Now decide, what steps will it take to get you there? Calendar those now. And listen, you may need support or even professional help. That’s why folks like me are around. We are here to help you come up with the plan and the implementation strategies, but also to get you back on track should you fall into a snowdrift.

    1. How to warm up with your food and fitness

Food to warm you up:

Spices are a favorite winter go-to of mine—the extra win is that they also support our immune systems. They are all equally awesome (if they are organic and haven’t expired).

Soups: This is a no-brainer—but it’s also a no or less digestive work-er. What I mean is that sometimes, like in the freezing winter, we need an assist, a help, to make things easier, and soups and purées do just this: easy nutrient absorption and easy cooking. Also they are a great way to add spices!

Warm beverages: Enjoy them but don’t confuse warmth with sugar. Lots of the hot beverages load on the sugar. A safe bet is to make your drink at home (I treated myself to an espresso and now make my cashew latte at home. I use a half teaspoon of coconut-palm sugar per serving of cashew milk so it foams, but that’s way less than what I’d get if I were out.) Oh, and adding spices here works great!

Sautéed, roasted and baked veggie “salads”: Our bodies may not love raw vegetables—or even if our bodies do, our minds may not, and we eat with them equally. Transition from your favorite summer salads to super-rich and delicious winter sautés, like mushrooms, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, red onions, etc. Adding spices works well here too!

Sauté, roast and bake your fruit: Sweet, sweet win! My mom made baked fruit my whole childhood in the winter, and I never knew why but I always loved it. In fact, I don’t even want ice cream; so instead I have baked fruit as a dessert or a quick pit stop, with hemp hearts or cashew cream. And spices make it even more delicious!

Some Extras

    • I exercise so I can drink espresso. Make bargains with yourself. We all have a three-year-old in us who needs reminding that we don’t just get to do what we want; we need to earn certain things.

    • I exercise so I can take a CALM bath. Magnesium helps take the stress out of winter, and these baths actually also help us slough off winter dead skin (using a dry brush first will help too). Check out Natural Vitality CALM Bath at Whole Foods or online. It’s a welcome treat.

    • Find an infrared sauna or treat yourself to a massage or sauna or steam—make it a reward for a month’s or a week’s worth of sticking with your plan.

    • Bundle up and get outside. Sunlight is in limited supply; so when it pops out, get out and enjoy it as a way to beg it to come around more often. We (emotionally) need sun; it’s not enough to take a vitamin D supplement all winter.

All right, Frozen NOT Fat, we got this. You are not going to let this winter beat you; after reading this, let me know what you committed to—and let’s do this! By the way, if you have any great ideas, let me know too!

Ashley Koff is an internationally renowned registered dietitian on a mission to improve the health of people across America and beyond through raising public awareness of the value of quality eating. Visit her site at: www.ashleykoffapproved.com