It’s officially cold outside. It’s here and there’s no getting around it. Your desire to hibernate from the winter chill is strong. Your exercise regime may have slowed a little. Your skin is dry. Your water intake isn’t something that you are conscious of unlike those summer months. You become an expert at quickly avoid anyone who even gives the slightest sniffle. You forget to watch how much wine you’re having with dinner because it’s cold outside and it warms you up. You are craving warm indulgent winter food, and you happily throw on that baggy jumper to cover those few extra winter pounds that have started to creep on.
Everything is cosy and everything that we know to be good for us just seems a touch harder than normal.
But there are some wonderful things you can do to give yourself a little boost this winter. Things that will leave you feeling refreshed, energised and coming out the other side without feeling as if you have completely neglected yourself for another entire winter.
MAINTAINING YOUR FITNESS
Staying motivated with your fitness goal can be difficult regardless of the season. When winter starts to roll around it can become that much harder. The drastic change in temperature, reduced sunlight hours, the extra fluffy bedding and all the winter indulgent food can create a perfect storm. Before you know it spring has arrived and you are in no shape for the warmer months ahead.
This is so important. If you don’t enjoy what you do for exercise over winter, change it. Change it now! Perhaps you just need to take a break over the winter from your regular routine and start something new. What a great opportunity to embrace something new for 12 weeks. It doesn’t mean you won’t come back to what you regularly do once it warms up again. View it as a change to keep you on the fitness track.
Ensuring what you have chosen is enjoyable and sustainable for those chilly dark days is important. Another great way to stay motivated and enjoy it is to enlist a friend to exercise with you. It’s not a commitment for life, just a brief commitment to getting you both through the winter and into spring feeling the best version of yourself. Exercising with a friend makes you more accountable. It’s more enjoyable and makes the time go faster.
FIND YOUR STYLE
Training in your summer workout gear and adding a bulky layer for winter is not an effective way to train! You need to layer your clothing effectively. You have to be able to freely move. Removing one layer at a time as your body temperature increases. You can also add these layers back once you have finished and you begin to cool down.
The most important element to get right when layering your workout gear is to get the base layer correct. You need to choose a material that draws moisture away from your skin as you sweat aka not cotton. If you don’t wear clothing that draws the sweat away you will get cold, chills and your muscles won’t recover properly from the workout. If this happens it leads to muscle soreness. Hello, morning legs that don’t work!
FIND YOUR PURPOSE/CREATE YOUR VISION/SET A GOAL
Winter is a set window of time. It can feel like it goes on and on. But it will be spring before we know it. Our pale dry skin will soon be on show and what can be more motivating than the thought of fitting into our spring clothes and feeling comfortable in our own bodies. Everyone has a different purpose for exercising. Getting fit. Staying fit. Improving health. Fitting into your jeans OR all these reasons and more. All that matters is that you have a purpose that motivates you to move.
The important thing is you take your reasons for wanting to exercise over winter and turn them into a short-term achievable goal/s. See yourself working through the 12 weeks and coming out the other side successful. It doesn’t need to be extreme. It needs to be achievable.
KEEP YOUR HOME HEALTHY
Did you know that around 75% of homes contain too much moisture? The large chunk of that moisture is coming from our laundries. It seems that being energy conscious over the winter months and not using the dryer instead of hanging the wet washing in the laundry to air dry is contributing as much as 2 litres of moisture into our homes, making up a third of the overall moisture problem.
The issue here is it creates an ideal breeding ground for nasty mould, fungi, and harmful bacteria.
If you can, hang as much washing outside to dry if that’s not an option make sure your laundry and home are well ventilated even in the cold winter months.
Did you know your gas stove can be one of the most toxic appliances in your home? Gas stoves emit nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and formaldehyde. If you have a gas stove always use the extractor fan when cooking and as an extra measure, you can ventilate the room as well. This is essential over the winter months.
If you’re like me and making the bed in the morning is a must, brace yourself for some bad news.
A neatly made bed with the windows shut tightly ready for you to leave for the day turns your bed into the ultimate breeding ground for dust mites. These little critters can dramatically increase your chances of catching a cold, exacerbate allergies, can greatly affect asthmatics and cause hay fever.
The additional dampness of closing your room up especially in winter months not only increases dust mites but will encourage bacteria to fester, the nasty bacteria that can lead to the flu!
So don’t make your bed on the days you really don’t need to. Pull the covers off and air it out. If you can’t do that (I struggle) then leave it for as long as you can each morning, giving it a chance to air out. Also open the windows as often as you can to circulate some fresh air.
DRINK MORE WATER
Water does amazing things in our bodies and we should respect its importance to our health. Water helps us with good blood flow and can reduce blood pressure, it lubricates joints and it balances our bodily fluids. When our bodily fluids are balanced we have improved digestion, we absorb the necessary nutrients from our food, we are able to transport these nutrients, and we maintain our body temperature.
In winter we can drink significantly less than we should and it is absolutely something that you can easily fix.
Have a glass first thing in the morning and a glass just before bed. Making it part of your daily routine instantly increases your intake level.
Flavour your water. Add some lemon juice to aid in digestion. Or get creative with combinations:
- Raspberries and mint
- Orange and lime slices
- Blackberries and kiwi fruit
Adding these combinations to filtered water gives it a nice kick, but adding them to carbonated water takes it to a whole new level! You will drink your daily quota with ease.
Herbal tea is always a nice way to increase your water intake. Drinking herbal tea can be a great way to decrease your caffeine intake, even if it’s only by one cup a day. There are abundant flavours to choose from, each with health benefits that are extraordinary.
If drinking more water or herbal tea doesn’t sound appealing you can get more water in your diet via some delicious hydrating foods:
- Grape Tomatoes
- Leafy greens
Water is essential for a healthy mind and body, being honest and taking a look at how much water you are drinking on an average day is very important. Make it fun, change it up and add a bit more where you can throughout the day.
Making time for a massage over the winter months can have an enormous impact on your health and wellbeing.
Scheduling a massage for most of us only happens when we are suddenly struck by pain or we are gifted a massage on a special occasion. A massage seems to be seen as a luxury afforded to those with ample time to delight in such treats. But in reality making time for a regular massage is a very important element to maintaining a healthy body.
Massage has the wonderful ability to relieve stress and improve circulation. But it also does so much more.
A remedial massage removes tension. We are suffering more from neck and shoulder tension due to the increased hours sitting at desks and looking at screens. The lower back also suffers when we sit too much. Massage helps to lengthen these muscles, balance everything and bringing us back to postural alignment.
Some of the interesting health benefits of massage aren’t related to our muscles, joints and mobility.
Did you know massage has the ability to assist those suffering from anxiety, digestive issues, headaches, insomnia, arthritis and high blood pressure? How wonderful is that!
Did you know massage decreases your stress hormones and boosts your immunity? Your immune system after a massage has a chance to work more efficiently, without impairment because your stress hormones have decreased. Plus massage increases circulation and improves lymphatic drainage, which also provides another boost to your immune system.
If you weren’t sold on the benefits above here are a couple more that might just tickle your fancy:
- Studies show massage increases patients white blood cell count, a healthy white blood cell count plays a positive role in our bodies fighting off disease.
- It can also vastly improve your skin tone. Massage relieves tension in the skin and the adjoining tissue whilst increasing circulation. With the increase in circulation in our skin and to the tissue just below the surface of the skin, it aids the nutrition cycle needed for cell regeneration. It also stimulates sebum production, helping to improve suppleness, moisturising and softening dry skin.
Massage is one of the best things you can do for your body and your mind. A massage will leave you feeling relaxed but it will also benefit your health immensely, particularly over the cold winter months.
Winter food can be wonderfully indulgent and it can be easy to get caught up in the same weekly menu for the entire season. But it can easy to change. Try making your favourite dishes with a twist. Change your regular potato to sweet potato. Sweet potato is an amazing immune booster. Sweet potato has beta-carotene content which gives it its warm orange colour and it is also a precursor to vitamin A, which will be converted to the body as needed. Beta carotene and vitamin A help improve immune system function.
Some other things to add to the menu are bone broths and immune boosting smoothies. Bone broth is rich in minerals that support your immune system. Bone broth also contains healing compounds like collagen, glutamine, glycine and proline. The collagen in bone broth heals your gut lining and reduces intestinal inflammation as well. Try adding nutrient rich and vitamin dense smoothies to your diet for that added wellbeing punch. I have an amazing IMMUNE BOOSTING SMOOTHIE recipe that that’s easy to make and it’s delicious! It’s also a touch tropical which I find helps keep you out of that winter funk.
Winter is a lovely time of year and it’s easy to forget about our normal healthy habits for a few weeks. But we shouldn’t for our long-term health and wellbeing. If you are finding your normal healthy habit unappealing winter provides a wonderful opportunity to try something new. Don’t let the opportunity pass, you will be very grateful come spring. The temptation to hibernate is strong but let the desire for feeling fresh and energetic in the upcoming warmer months keep you motivated.
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