WW blog: Aimee's fitness guide to seasonal affective disorder

If you're finding that seasonal affective disorder is having an impact on your fitness routine, Aimee is here to help.
Published 19 November, 2019

Introducing Aimee...

Hi everyone! My name is Aimee and in 2014, I started my WW journey on Instagram (@aimeefightingfit). Now five years later, I am a proud Social Ambassador for WW.

I decided to join WW after being diagnosed with a life-threatening asthma and blood-pressure condition called POTs. I was very active as a child and teenager, but I was suddenly faced with the inability to play sports or be active in the ways that I knew and loved. Being unable to work out and having to take medication, I distracted myself by eating sweets, which led to a large weight gain.

When I eventually came off the medication, I managed to lose 15kg on my own. But, I couldn’t seem to lose any more of the weight I had gained and was afraid of failing. One day, I came across a photo of myself that I had once liked and thought I looked good in. Seeing this inspired me to join WW, and I have been at my goal weight (or close to it) for five years.

Cooler mornings, darker days

Fitness has always played a big part in my life. My mum, who was a WW coach in the 80s, has been a driving force behind my love for the gym and exercise. After I recovered from my period of illness, I rekindled my love for fitness and walking, and took up running, completing my first half marathon last year. 

However, the cold mornings and the dark autumn/winter nights can have me diving under the covers rather than heading out on a run or to the gym. I also find that if I succumb to the temptation to move less, I tend to feel the winter blues more, leading to less healthy food choices as well. So here are a couple of things I do to motivate myself and stay active in winter.

Home workouts 

Don’t let the rain or cold be an excuse to press pause on your commitment to move. In fact, exercise doesn’t even have to involve going outside. When the weather is unappealing, I roll out my exercise mat and use the WW app to find a workout. There are options for stretching, yoga, strength and cardio. You can then track your activity directly to My Day in the app. They’re all between 10-30 minutes which is perfect for a tight schedule. 

For something different, there are lots of different workouts available for free on YouTube if you search for home workouts, boxing workout, 10 min abs, or yoga. 

Don’t forget the importance of incidental movement

When it gets colder, we tend to do less incidental movement, and favour driving or catching the bus over walking. Rugging up, putting your wellies on and walking is a great way to boost your movement and improve your mood. Exposure to any sunlight is a bonus. More vitamin D = less winter blues. To keep yourself motivated, you can track your steps and adjust your step goal every week. I try to beat my total the week before, and track it in the WW app.

You could even meet a friend to do something wintery to embrace the cold, like ice skating. Between trying not to fall and taking pics of all the fun, it definitely won’t feel like working out and can earn you up to 10 FitPoints for 45 minutes of laughs!

Grab a buddy or join a group exercise class

It’s always harder to cancel on a friend than to cancel on yourself! Inviting a friend to go to the gym, or for a walk or a run with you, is a great way to make sure you stick to your active goals during the cooler months.

I’m a teacher and at my last school we had a workout club which would informally meet in the school gym twice a week. This kept us active and meant that we went home with endorphins flowing even after a stressful, busy day. It takes courage to ask others to work out with you, but once you do, I promise you will never look back! 

If you're like me and new to your area, group exercise classes are a great source of motivation for those colder nights. You often have to book, and in doing so you’re making a commitment to go. Once you're in the door, with the music pumping and in the atmosphere of working out with others, you’ll be working up a sweat in no time.

Bored of aerobics? Try something a bit different - winter is the perfect time to try a new dance class, aerial yoga or trampoline rebounding (honestly the best fun I’ve had in a long time!). 

Move your goals indoors 

I used to feel the pressure to keep up with all the activities I do in summer through the winter months. However, a couple of years ago I realised trying to run every second day in winter was making me miserable, which isn’t the point of a fitness routine. So, last year I took up weight training during the winter months. I set myself strength goals and because I was indoors I only had to convince myself to go outside to get to the gym, rather than stay outside for my whole workout.  

Be a goal getter

A surefire way to lose motivation is when you have no direction. Setting SMART goals always keeps me on track, and gives me something to go back to if I have a week or two where I’m feeling less motivated, or have fallen off track. I use the monthly trackers, (shared by @ww.uk and the ambassadors) and share my goals on Instagram to hold myself accountable. 

I hope some of these ideas help you to tackle the next couple of months of chillier weather. Embrace the cold, and we will be basking in spring sunshine in no time!