The cold bites my cheeks, as I cross Centennial Lake, which sprays me with water every time another unforgiving gust of wind strikes. My body aches to remind me of my last workout, while my mouth attempts to salivate — if that were possible in this weather — at the thought of enjoying a cup of hot chocolate in front of eight episodes of The Office.
Yet, if I succumbed to my unhealthy thoughts, my productivity would slide and my fitness goals would end up further than my next class.
As excruciatingly difficult as it may be to go into the cold to get to the gym, work out, sweat and then head back into the cold, it’s not impossible.
Don’t go home or back to the dorm
If you plan on going to the gym after your classes, be sure to pack or wear your gym clothes to class. Going back to your dorm or off-campus apartment to get changed lowers your chances of making it to the gym. The number of times I’ve gone home intending to change, only to never leave the house, was high, until I decided to pack my gym clothes. Instead of going home, I now stop at the gym, get my workout in and go home to enjoy the rest of my night guilt-free.
Take advantage of the nice days
This winter has been crazy with the random 60-degree days, but that’s when you should take advantage. Go for a walk or a run in the nice weather. When the days get colder, you already took care of your cardio, so you can head to the gym and do more cardio or lift, depending on your workout regimen.
Find a gym friend
Having a friend or two to go with always makes the gym experience better. Instead of heading into the cold alone, going with another person makes the workout that much easier. With a gym friend, you both hold each other accountable. My two roommates and I always go to the gym together and if one of us skips, the other two never let the one who wussed out forget it.
Not only is having a gym friend helpful for getting you to the gym, but it also helps push your body to the limit. A little friendly competition between two or more friends is a great way to get extra reps or how many miles you can get in the half hour on the stationary bike.
The earlier, the better
It may be difficult to get up and go to the gym before class, especially when it is cold out. However, there is no better feeling than getting that workout done before you go to class. Not only will this wake your body up, but it’ll also give you less of a chance to talk yourself out of it. If your first class is not until 11:30 a.m., going at 9 a.m. is a reasonable enough hour to wake up, freeing up the rest of your day for productivity in other areas.
Bring homework to the gym
This suggestion is two-fold. Maybe you have an assigned reading that you can take care of while crushing the bike for a half hour. Or maybe you’re the kind of person— I think we all are — who hates to get sweaty, only to leave and freeze on the cold trip back to your dorm. Bringing homework will allow you to be much more productive. Once you finish your gym session, sit in front of Starbucks (I’d grab a coffee) and finish up a homework assignment, giving your body the chance to cool off and dry off. Now you’ve been mentally and physically productive and made the trip through the cold much more worth it.
Pack healthy meals or snacks
If you are a commuter, it really pays to have that bag of peanuts or a healthy lunch ready to go, so you avoid the loaded Subway sandwich or the trips to the vending machine. For residents, having those healthy snacks helps prevent you from overeating once you get to Daly’s dining hall.
Don’t forget to reward yourself
It is the winter, after all. And winter just isn’t right without the occasional hot chocolate. Once you make it to the gym, go home, get in those comfy dorm pants, toss on some Netflix and grab a hot beverage. Trust me, you’ll feel less guilty after an accomplished day in the gym.
Senior journalism major
Printed in the 2/22/17 issue.