Paul Harragon: ‘How I stay fit during winter’

When it comes to sticking to a training regime, there’s never a tougher time than during the winter months. The wind is icy, the mornings are dark and most of us would much rather be home curled up with a good book or the latest Netflix series.

So, how do you keep fit come June?

For fitness and motivational advice, you can’t beat Paul Harragon who reckons winter is by far the toughest time to keep healthy.

“Your willpower will get tested on cold, rainy, winter mornings, so you’re going to need a few tricks up your sleeve,” Paul says.

We sat down with The Chief to get some of his tips and tricks for keeping active.

1. Find your ‘why’

In the weeks, or months leading up to winter, take a few minutes to think about why you want to stay healthy. Is it so you can play with your kids without getting tired? Or, maybe it’s so you help your sporting team win the grand final this year? It could even be because you love the hormone high following a tough workout?

“Make sure the reason you have for getting fit or staying fit is more powerful than any obstacles that will inevitably come your way,” Paul says.

2. The right kind of peer pressure

Paul’s next tip is all about surrounding yourself with people who’ll encourage you to get moving – even when it’s the last thing you feel like doing.

Paul explains, “Training with a group helps me so much. Together you’ll push each other to keep fit all the way through winter. When you’re feeling good, you’ll help keep the spirits high; when you’re struggling, the rest of the group will help keep you motivated.”

Paul is a huge believer in having a group of mates to help keep in shape – not only physically, but mentally too.

“Having a connection with other people is an important part of your wellbeing and just another added advantage of training in a group.”

3. Challenge yourself

Not naturally good at something? Take a leaf out of The Chief’s book and push yourself to work on it.

“I am a terrible swimmer, but as part of my winter schedule every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday I go swimming with a group of my oldest mates. We swim anywhere from 1.5 – 2km and I know that even though I’m not a natural, it’s good for me – plus, it’s great fun hanging out with my friends.”

4. Mix it up

Keep things interesting by adding in a bit of variety into your training regime and aim to have a few higher intensity workouts mixed in with some lower impact alternatives.

“On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I do a circuit or cross-train with some of the boys I played footy with and I absolutely love it. We train hard and much like the group I swim with, my favourite part is the coffee and the chat after it.”

5. Don’t forget to train the mind

Keeping fit and healthy doesn’t stop at the body. It’s also important to consider your emotional and mental wellbeing, especially during the winter months when we’re at a higher risk of seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Paul is committed to meditating every day and often puts aside some time each week for a yoga class.

“I meditate twice a day for about an hour and it’s an absolutely essential part of my lifestyle and I’ll sometimes do yoga with my wife on a Sunday afternoon.”

6. Be realistic

Sticking to a training schedule and surrounding yourself with workout buddies won’t magically make you love getting out of bed every cold, dark morning; so don’t be too harsh on yourself if you never truly embrace the frosty months.

“As a rule, I usually don’t like winter. I can’t guarantee I’ll ever become a huge fan of season, but I can guarantee that ongoing training and having friends by my side makes it easier,” Paul says.

“When you feel better within yourself, hopefully you’ll then have a positive impact on the people closest to you.”

Keen to read more tips from The Chief?