One of the things I have come to realize, however, is that all these excuses are just that: excuses. It really all comes down to forethought and planning. I know that if I take the time on the weekend to shop and plan meals, I am more likely to make better choices all week long. If I know I am going to have to eat out at a restaurant, I can look at their menu online and make my choices before I even leave the house. Or if their menu is not readily available, I can eat small meals the rest of the day so I can go a little over on my restaurant meal if I need to. If I am invited to a friend’s house to eat, I can plan to bring a healthy alternative for myself and just take small portions of what they are serving so I am still being polite to the hostess.
In much the same way I make excuses for food choices, in the past I was pretty adept at thinking up reasons why I couldn’t exercise. It is especially easy to put off exercising when the weather cools down and the lure of a warm, cozy bed makes it difficult to pull my feet out from under the covers and onto the cold, hard ground for my morning run or bike ride.
This week it was especially difficult because we spent three days in snowy Mammoth. Last summer I went on vacation to Monterey and was able, for the first time in my life, to enjoy my time away without gaining weight (see My Flabulous Vacation blog 7/16/2011). This was made easy by the beautiful weather that enticed me to come out and play in it…not so with the snowy, some-what icy conditions in the mountains. I was tempted to sit inside the cabin sipping coffee and playing games like Farkle and Phase Ten with my daughter, Siobhan, or snuggling under quilts with my son, Eoin.
Now I have shared that I LOVE running in the snow. It is actually one of my favorite environments to run in. I do, however, need to stay safe. The snow running I did last Christmas was on a maintained path, so I could be certain that there wasn’t a log or loose rock underfoot. This was not the case around Convict Lake, so running was out. Luckily, I did have a plan in mind. First, Sean and I decided to hit a 6 AM Crossfit class before tackling the drive to Mammoth. We had to make sure we were completely packed the night before, but it was worth it knowing that our exercise was completed for the day.
In addition, I was planning to go cross-country skiing or snowshoeing so that we could enjoy being outdoors in the winter landscape while still getting our much-needed exercise. We bundled up in warm clothes, packed the kids in the car with activities they could do in the lodge while they waited for us, and we headed up to Tamarack to embark on our new snow activities. When we arrived, we realized despite our best-laid plans, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing were not meant to be. We had driven all the way up the mountain only to find out that there was enough snow to cover the ground, but not enough for us to be able to try these new activities. By the time we got back to the cabin, frustrated and tired, it would have been easy to jump into our warm bed for a nap, but I knew that in order to have energy for the rest of the day we needed to get out and move.
In lieu of skiing or snowshoeing, we decided to hike around the perimeter of Convict Lake. It was difficult to see the path clearly through the snow, but we decided to keep going until we felt it was no longer safe. I wish I could describe to you how amazing it feels to exercise in the snow. I am afraid words just won’t do it justice, but I will try. First, the air is crisp and clean. As we moved farther and faster, the air we breathed in was just different than what we get in the city—colder and fresher. The feel of the snow under our feet was soft and giving, a little like sand only more cushioned. The only sound we could hear was the movement of the water, the wind in the trees, and our shoes crunching in the snow. And the view was amazing—majestic mountains above, snowed covered banks around the lake, and sparkling lake water below. It is almost hard to say this was exercise when we enjoyed ourselves so much.
So whether you live where it snows, rains, or stays dry most of the winter, get out there and exercise. If you can convince yourself to roll out of your cozy bed even on the roughest weather days, you will know you have finally made it a part of your new, healthy routine. Don’t let the winter blahs, inclement weather, or challenging conditions dissuade you from continuing on your road to flabulous—make it fun, make it a regular part of your day, and when swim suit season comes around again, you will be glad you did.