Plotting Around the Polar Vortex

10 Nov
This is some bull—but it's not an excuse

This is some bull—but it’s not an excuse

A couple of weeks ago I was out to dinner with friends. We hadn’t met up for a while, so it was time to catch up. Who’s dating whom? How’s work going? Holiday plans? Blah, blah, blah.

When we got around to me, I offered my usual: work, gym, home. If I’m feeling adventurous: work, gym, grocery store, home. The reason for the routine is because I’d gained some weight that I wasn’t proud of. The size 8s were feeling a little too snug and the 10s were looking tempting. Rather than give in to temptation, I went back into beast mode. I’m happy to say I’m down 17 pounds.

What I diidn’t mention was that this dinner was during a particularly cold night here in New York. “Why are you trying to lose weight when it’s about to get cold?” my friend joked. “You’re going to need that extra layer when the cold hits.” (By the way, it’s coming.)

My other friend spoke up before I could, saying now’s the time to do it. If you’re going to try to get in shape, you want to do it before it gets warm. Think of it this way: When you go to the beach for spring break or summer vacation, it’ll be much harder to work off all that holiday food if you haven’t been keeping up with a routine.

A sports columnist at The Wall Street Journal (editor’s note: my employer) wrote about this very thing last week. He called it the off season. Many athletes will go vacation for a month once the season’s over, but they will get back to training when they return.

One of my favorite stories about this was told by Michael Jordan in the “30 for 30: Bad Boys” documentary. The Pistons put in work on Michael Jordan, using their “Jordan Rules” to defensively render him useless to the Bulls. Jordan took the L, but went into the off season with a mission to get his body ready for the hurting the Pistons had planned for him. He took his time off as a challenge to himself to improve his body to be in peak form.

I understand, however, that we’re not all athletes. It’s easy to turn the fall and winter into the off season for working out. Hell, I did it last year. It’s easier not to leave the house when you have 4 feet of snow blocking your doorway. And if you can’t get outside, you definitely can’t run or even go to the gym. Your subconscious plays games with your head and tells you, “Stay home where it’s warm. There’s Netflix and HBOGo and entire seasons of shows you haven’t watched on Amazon Prime. Plus, look at that bookshelf full of masterpieces you’ve been trying to read. They need your attention, too.”

Doesn’t that sound inviting? You could be in your warm home lazing the day away. Or you could pop in an exercise DVD and go to work. You could make use of those resistance bands you bought forever ago. You could find a few workout tips on YouTube and make it happen. Your home doesn’t and should’t be your cage. It should be where you make the most of off-season.

Believe me when I tell you I fully understand the desire to skip out on workouts when it’s cold outside. Ask anyone: I hate  the cold. I hate everything about it. I don’t like wearing extra layers because it just means more laundry. I don’t like walking around in black slush piles of snow because that mess gets tracked back into my house. And I hate working out and then going out into the cold because then I’m then the disgusting combination of cold and wet.

But that doesn’t mean I can let myself go because of few dropped temps. Sticking with a plan means just that. If losing weight, staying on track or maintaining a certain level of health is important to you, then you can and should find a way to do just that. Letting the winter doldrums get you down will only make it harder on yourself when the weather breaks. Don’t make this process any harder than it has to be. Find the inner strength that I know you have and force yourself to break the off-season habit.

How do you get through your off season?

photo credit: jonathanpercy via photopin cc

5 Responses to “Plotting Around the Polar Vortex”

  1. FinickyFeet November 11, 2014 at 2:42 am #

    I live in a vacation destination and I still find reasons to make excuses. It was 70 degrees today. Your post inspired me to get off my butt and go for a walk! I have 20 lbs. to lose, best start NOW.

  2. deborahcrocker November 10, 2014 at 10:23 am #

    Just wanted you to know that I just finished walking outside for 50 minutes. Because of you, this grandma grabbed her pink cane and went outside. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • cicelyd November 10, 2014 at 12:19 pm #

      Hey Deborah! Good for you for getting out there. I understand how challenging it can be to keep moving when you’d rather just chill. But it benefits you in the long run. People usually regret the workouts they didn’t do, not the ones they did. Keep it up!

  3. deborahcrocker November 10, 2014 at 8:35 am #

    Thank you for the encouragement. I am 62, lost 65 lbs. with God’s help, and I also HATE the cold!

    I live in Mobile, Alabama. Because of my low thyroid, I get cold in air conditioning in the summer. So I shiver at your pain from the cold.

    I have lost from a size 18/20 skirt/pants to a size 14. But I just acquired a size 12 skirt that I can get on and zipped up. I know exercise will make the difference. I was just thinking it’s just too cold outside to go walking , then I read your post. Thank you for the encouragement to get up and get out.

    PS: Now when I see the weather report for the cold extreme in New York, I will hurt and pray for you.


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