We are now entering the winter months and I want to give you some supportive tips to help you live your best and healthiest winter life. Do you ever wonder why in the summer months you wear less clothes, and are more active, or want to eat more things like salads or light food? Then in the winter months you hunker down, eat more comfort food, dress in heavy layers, and become stationary? Do you think the change of the season has anything to do with this? Or the fact that for centuries this is how we survived? Possibly, but what is the best way to live with the seasons?
Structure and routine
Winter feels a little harder to become motivated, that is why routine and structure are important. I encourage you to sit down weekly and write out the things that are important to you that week. Making movement and water intake your top two priorities to write into your schedule. After that, pick one goal you want to work on to help you improve your health by 1%. Maybe you could add in 5 minutes of meditation daily or making it a priority to meal plan for the week. I also find it helpful to write up a to-do list for each day. Write down the top three things you want to accomplish plus a few other things that won’t matter if you accomplish or can pass on to the next day’s to-do list. Treating yourself to a yoga class is a great addition to your to-do-list.
We all know that diet can play a major role in our overall health and well-being. What we eat affects our bodies and our mood. When you think of eating during the winter months you think comfort foods - heavy meals, soups, and holiday feasts. What if you could enjoy all of these foods but in a healthy way with healthy balance? You can enjoy warm and comforting foods by incorporating milk, honey, oils, and rice. It’s also a good time to enjoy salty and acidic foods like meat, fish, dairy, eggs, apples, and grains. Winter is the perfect time to enjoy sushi, which is a good source for vitamin D.
Be sure to incorporate those in-season vegetables like root vegetables into your diet. This would include beets, carrots, and turnips all of which goes well in tasty stews or soups. Broccoli and cauliflower are also great vegetables to add into your winter diet to help defend against illness, both being a great source for vitamin C. Soups are a staple for any winter but they can be high in sodium and very heavy. I encourage you to look for soups that have chicken or vegetable broth as the base and load up on those root vegetables.
Another food you should include is oatmeal. Oatmeal being high in zinc and soluble fiber, aids in immune function and heart health.
I also want to say that I am 100% supportive of you enjoying your holiday meals to the fullest but I want you to be honest with yourself and stay on track on those days you aren’t celebrating the holidays with friends and family. Life is about balance. Indulge and enjoy but then get right back on track to help you feel your best. I admit I enjoy a cookie or two, but I know that I have no will power if they are around. So I know I need to work around those things that tempt me. Even though eating foods rich in vitamin D is good for your immunity, I would also suggest you to take a daily dose of vitamin D with your meals to ensure you are getting what you need. Click here for more information.
Many people associate dehydration with hot and humid summers but dehydration isn’t limited to hot weather. It is totally possible to become dehydrated during the colder months. It can be common to become less thirsty during the colder weather resulting in less water intake. We also tend to sweat less during the winter, even though your body is still losing moisture. Without that sweat indicator we become less likely to drink water.
Water is so important for so many reasons. It helps carry nutrients and oxygen, aids in absorption of necessary vitamins and minerals, and flushes out toxins and waste. Water even regulates our body temperature making it that much more crucial to drink during the colder months.
I like to set a daily intake goal so I can keep on track with my water intake. The minimum amount you should drink is half of your body weight in ounces but I try to shoot for 20-30 ounces over that. If you find it challenging to drink cold water during the winter then drink warmer drinks like tea or hot cider. For more information, click here.
Be sure to make sleep a priority. Yes, winter months we have less light but we also run around frantically making sure holiday’s expectations are met, meals are made, and gifts are bought. Our body is also colder and needing more sleep. When you aren’t getting the recommended 6-9 hours of sleep a night, you are way more susceptible to illness. Set a time when you shut off all devices 30 minutes prior to bedtime and write in your gratitude journal or read a chapter of a book. Be sure to stick to that bedtime you set, no matter how good that book is. Another thing that can help aid in sleep is doing a quick 10-minute bedtime yoga routine. You can find a YouTube video I did here.
It’s easy to hunker down in the winter and stay close to the fire but it’s important to keep social to help keep your overall mood lifted. Plan a monthly zoom date with friends or couples, you could even play board or card games together. Or schedule a dinner party with family or friends to keep things social but liming the number of people.
Get fresh air
It’s common to want to stay in during the winter because the weather outside is so cold, but when we are breathing in the stagnant circulated air it can sometimes prevent us from staying healthy. Make daily outdoor trips a priority even if it’s just for 10 minutes. I promise you will feel like a brand new person.
We have found it beneficial to find one winter activity we enjoy. Our family likes to cross country ski. It’s something the entire family can do and even though it’s a simple task to move your legs back and fourth it is a great workout. We either pull the baby in a sled or I carry him in a carrier since he is still to young to join.
Living your best and healthiest winter life
As you see, with small lifestyle changes it’s easy to live your best and healthiest winter life. Whether you focus on just one of these things or tackle the entire list, do what makes you feel best. Happy winter friends.