It feels like a long winter; I am hearing this from just about everyone. The extreme cold, then rain, wind and unpredictable weather has a lot of people off track, and they do not seem to be able to get back on track. As the expression goes, ‘I’m stuck in a rut’.

Snacks seem to be more permissible; the idea of going for a walk seems impossible. Once home, getting on a bus or in a car to go to a gym just isn’t in the cards. So we sit, watch TV, read a book and nibble.

This isn’t something new; it happens to all of us every year. It doesn’t even have to be winter (that is just a glorious Canadian excuse to hibernate). We allow ourselves to get into a rut, so that making poor food choices and not exercising becomes the norm.

The fascinating thing is that we are totally aware of what we are not doing; we are discouraged and frustrated with ourselves, yet continue down the path of few results.

And what I hear is “I’ve lost my motivation”. Actually, you haven’t. You have simply allowed good habits to be replaced by old familiar habits, and that is a comfortable place to be in. Especially if it’s cold outside!

The best way out of this state of mind is to change something. For me, it will be my morning routine. If I stay in bed too long, and have no structure to make the early morning purposeful, usually the rest of the day will be unstructured too. If I force myself up, make a coffee, and either do some exercise (this will mean getting to a swim practice by 5.30am), or read a recent article on nutrition or exercise, my mind will be engaged for the day. I will be more likely to make better food choices, because I feel empowered. Believe me, the last thing I want to do is get in a car in the dark at -20C and drive to the pool to swim; but once done, I have energy.

Anyone can develop a morning routine. A simple one. It doesn’t have to involve swimming! Get up; make a coffee; sit and write some goals for the day. Do 10 push-ups or 10 squats; stretch. Keep it simple. Enjoy your coffee as you write your goals for the day. This whole process might take 10 minutes. But you have created structure. This structure will motivate you.

For some people it will be forcing yourself to go to the gym right after work. Just go for 30 minutes. Just go. Don’t think. Don’t make excuses. Just go. Once done, your energy will return. If we head straight home after work, we feel tired from the demands of the day and are far less likely to go back out to the gym. Remember – exercise of any sort will give us more energy not less. Again, this simple thing will likely lead to better evening eating, and hopefully less snacking.

If none of this appeals, then do one thing. Obligate yourself to have absolutely no snacks after dinner. Nothing to eat till the next day. This alone will help reduce insulin, and the body will begin to get back into fat burning.

Do something. Change something. A morning routine? Exercise after work? No snacks in the evening. You choose what that something will be. Don’t get stuck in the ‘all or nothing’ thinking. Small changes lead to big changes

You can do it. Just never ever give up.

Dr. Doug