It’s that time of year again. The leaves are off of the trees and it won’t be long before the only green we’ll be seeing is the bits of pine trees still visible through the snow. From a health and fitness perspective, winter often brings some new issues to deal with. The bleak weather and lack of available fresh produce often leads to us zombie-ing through the holidays, and stumbling into January in dire need of that new year’s resolution.
We’ve all heard that “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” so instead of using the first part of 2018 to try and make up for the end of 2017, let’s do our best to adopt some habits now that will give us the best chance to stay consistent throughout the winter and start the new year off with a bang.
1. Vegetables and Fruit
In the summer, you can find a produce stand with locally grown fruit and vegetables on just about every corner. When produce is plentiful and cheap, we’re a lot more likely to make them a part of our regular diet. When winter comes around however, we often let that part of our diet slip. We don’t necessarily think of salad as a winter meal, but our body’s need for the nutrients we get from leafy greens and bright vegetables doesn’t go away with the warm weather.
Especially as the holidays approach, when you know you’ll be indulging in a larger meal with loved ones, make sure you’re body is getting everything it needs by starting with a salad that includes dark leafy greens like kale and romaine lettuce, and bright vegetables like bell peppers and carrots. Purple cabbage and grape tomatoes add a great pop of colour and flavour as well.
2. Get active!
As the temperature drops, so does the number of people you see outside running or biking, or at the gym. It’s another case of convenience. When it’s warm outside, that ride through the trails or that trip to the gym is easier. In order to maintain the results we’ve gotten over the summer though, it’s essential that we don’t let the colder weather deter us from continuing to pursue our health and fitness goals. That includes making it a priority to get outside for at least a few hours a week. A significant contributing factor to Seasonal Affective Disorder is our decreased exposure to sunlight, so take the opportunity to go for a winter walk, shovel a neighbour’s driveway, or even take up a winter hobby like skiing or snowboarding.
Very often the change in daylight hours causes our regular sleep schedule to get thrown off. One of the major causes of increased cortisol (the stress hormone) in the body is lack of sleep. If you’re already not getting 7-8 hours of sleep consistently at night, the winter season can really play havoc with your sleep schedule. Try to limit the things that can affect your ability to fall asleep and get a restful sleep when you do. Limit screen time as bedtime approaches. That means shutting down the phone, iPad, laptop, tv, or any other electronic device, and really letting your body and brain relax to prepare to sleep. This is a great opportunity to take some time to stretch or meditate or whatever your favourite relaxation exercise is. (Mine is a short yoga routine I found on YouTube a while ago). You’ll be amazed at how easy you’ll fall asleep when your head hits the pillow, and how well rested you’ll feel when it’s time to wake up.
Implementing as many of these habits as often as possible throughout the winter will go a long way towards avoiding the pitfalls that many people experience during the winter months. This may give you the advantage you need to break through those stubborn barriers in this upcoming year and get you to a new level of health, fitness, and success!