Gather ’round the bright blazing fire, friends. It’s time for a windy fireside chat. As December fades, obstacles and impediments arise to our plans: snow, extreme uncomfortable cold, ice, fatigue, illness, and holiday stress. We learn to expect the unexpected with frightful weather forecasts. It’s been a very challenging winter lately. Too cold/slippery to run outside (or even walk around the block) safely. What can we do? How can we cope?
First of all, if you have a treadmill, use it. Our treadmills buzz and hum with activity in winter months, so much so that we have to recalibrate and maintain them more often. Many folks I know like to taper a little at the end of the year with easier workouts. I like to do that on selected days (like Christmas) or days when I’m tired, busy, or traveling. As I’m still run-streaking, the floor for shortest runs is a mile. And that’s fine. I know that if I run a mile here or there I will be stronger on the days after. It allows my body some restful healing.
Secondly, try to maintain healthy nutrition throughout the cold wintry months. This requires some adjustments. For example, on very cold days, I’m just not excited about drinking a frozen smoothie if the temperature is hovering around 0F or subzero. However, I’ve learned to love making kale and/or spinach chips (or mixed greens chips) in the oven (or just warming greens with olive oil as a “warm salad”). Some days I’ve just simply taken my green smoothie ingredients and boiled them into soup. Soups, salads, and smoothies. It’s good to alternate between them a little bit. Another adjustment that I’ve learned I have to make is to make sure I’m getting adequate anti-inflammatory fruits and veggies/spices on days I might not have smoothies. So I’ve added turmeric/black pepper tabs to make sure I am at least pounding the turmeric to keep my asthma away/minimized as much as possible.
Third, many people suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD). I am very sensitive to especially colder changes in weather with asthma and it is more challenging for me to “plow through” my runs when I see a ridiculously cold weather forecast. Sometimes we all listen to that voice inside our head that says “we can’t” too much, right? If you have SAD, try to make sure you are getting adequate light (they have special indoor lights that help), keep active and exercising even if indoors and make sure you are doing things that bring you joy and happiness (reading, music, Epsom salt soak/warm bath, connecting with friends/family, etc). I find that I read a lot more when it’s cold and that seems to help me refocus on something positive and healthy instead of being preoccupied and obsessed with the cold/winter forecast.
Fourth, it is a great time of year to refocus and regroup. Create some quiet time for yourself. Fill it with positivity, inspiration, joy, and happiness. You’ll return to activity refreshed and empowered.
Fifth, ask if you are getting enough rest. This is extremely important and tends to catch up with us in the form of illness if we slacken our rest too much. It is better to slacken our activity level a little if we don’t feel 100% and allow ourselves to rest and recover instead of just smashing every workout on the schedule without lightening the load of a few to stay healthy, adjusting for reality when it affects us.
Sixth, have you tried meditation? It’s a wonderful way to press the reset button daily and restore calmness into our lives. I love headspace and the meditations range from 1 minute to 30 minute sessions in the app. You can stack them however you want.
Seventh, let’s talk about safety for a moment. One precaution I would highly recommend is having a rechargeable headlamp. Charge it up before the end of the year. We use ours a lot both on runs and on walks with the dog. Of course you can use your phone light too but in colder conditions, my iPhone 6 dies/powers off/enters a sleep state so it’s better to have the headlamp too. Another safety solution I am very fond of is the Brilliant Reflective safety strips. I stick these on almost everything: clothing, shoes, our dog leash, hats/headwear. It helps keep us safe. On rare occasions I have to replace a strip here and there but some have lasted longer than a year or more without being replaced. Here’s a weblink for you to visit Brilliant if you want to read more about it: BrilliantReflective.com.
Eighth, you will have days where you may want to hibernate all day or more than usual. (It’s tough to resist the urge to do this when we see our dogs trying to hibernate and sleep all through winter.) Try to resist the hibernation urge as much as possible. If we hibernate too much/too long, our fitness level drops off and we arrive at spring and summer with a steeper hill to climb as far as reaching our fitness and health goals.
Ninth, if you need a nap, take one. If the nap is the right length (an hour or less), we can emerge with greater energy, creativity, and firepower than we would have if we had tried to plow through in a more sleepless, lethargic state.
Finally, take small steps every day to reach your goal. We don’t have to overdo it, nor should we, every day as far as fitness is concerned. Every day is an incremental step propelling you to your goal. Just take that step, then another, and another. Before you know it, you’ll be cresting that hill, looking back, wondering how it happened. You CAN do it!
Enjoy your last moments of 2017. Wishing you healthy fitness now and always! Fire up your engines and let’s shovel and plow! ‘Snow way we’re gonna let winter stop us now!