According to Fitness Magazine, during winter “your body’s chemical switch has flipped to storing more fat.” This means that, although it is now harder to stay active, it is actually more important. Not only that, but winter is the season of the cold and flu. It is too easy to let the colder darker days get the best of your routine. Here are some small adjustments that just might help you push through the winter months with your health intact – and not all involve getting out in the cold!
Drink more than enough water
People often think that summer is the month you really need to focus on hydration. The sun beating down on you, sweating in the heat, it’s certainly obvious that you need to replenish what you’ve lost. However, winter is also a very dry season. Did you know that Calgary is the sunniest city in Canada? So even throughout the winter the sun is beating down on you, and you are probably still sweating under all of your layers. Keeping hydrated in the winter will keep your energy up, your organs healthy, and also reduce the painful dryness that plagues your skin when the temperatures drop. So drink up! 6-8 glasses of water a day.
Stress is horrible for your health. We all know it. It drains your energy, distorts your mind, and can even make you physically ill. But most importantly, it can hurt your immune system – and in a season that is known for the cold and flu your immune system needs to be in tiptop shape. Not only that, but it is difficult enough to stay happy during winter without as much outdoor activity and sunlight (granted, not as much of a problem in Calgary as in other parts of Canada). So, keeping your stress level down and your mood up will help you survive.
Streamline your diet
With a little less activity you need a few less carbs. This can be tough in the winter because your body’s natural instinct is to stock up on the carbs, so you will, unfortunately, be battling cravings. Smoothies are an easy way to start off on the right foot. Try blending together a protein shake (spinach, protein powder, hemp seeds, peanut butter, veggie greens, a banana, and almond milk) for breakfast and juicing up your veggies to bring for lunch. With these healthy steps taken you can throw in a blueberry muffin or half a sandwich and enjoy a hearty dinner with ease.
Sometimes nutrition can get away on you. Even with your best efforts and intentions with shakes and smoothies, there are a few things that can be missed. Vitamin D is vital during the winter and comes in a variety of forms including a delicious citrus-flavoured drop. Vitamin C is key for fending off the common cold. And reishi mushrooms are amazing immune boosters for that little extra support and defense.
Get enough sleep
Winter is the season where people do in fact sleep a little bit more. Maybe it is because it gets dark so soon, because it is cold and you want to curl up anyway, or because there is just less to do at night. Whatever it is, it is good! Sleep is the time when your body can really focus on itself and fight off anything that may be creeping up. It is also a great stress reliever and energy replenisher. All of these things are important in getting you through the winter unscathed.
Wash your hands frequently
Keep ‘em clean! It is no secret that hand washing helps prevent getting sick. People are constantly touching their faces, their mouths, blowing their noses, etc, and then going and touching doorknobs, shaking hands, and generally passing things around. The best way to combat this is to wash your own hands as often as you can. It may not stop everyone, but if you happen to come across something it will defend you before you eat or touch your own face/mouth.
This might be the hardest one. It is cold, you don’t want to get off the couch, and your walkway is snowed in. It can be difficult to motivate yourself in the harsher conditions, but these are the conditions that matter the most! Even so much as getting out to shovel that walkway can be lifesaving in the bigger picture. Plus, you only have 24 hours to do it before the city can fine you. Turn on some pump up music, grab your shovel, and show your body that nothing will hold you back from keeping it healthy. You still have to pay for that gym membership even if it’s snowing, so may as well go warm up there – see what happens.
Did you know? A Health Savings Account (HSA) with lifestyle add-on will cover the cost of your gym membership. Contact us today to ask about adding it to your plan.
See your friends
Being social has many benefits. It gets you out of the house so you don’t get cabin fever, it is fun and should help you de-stress, and it actually introduces you to some germs that your body can fend off. Hermiting at home can act as a bubble and, if done for too long, the moment you step outside your immune system may become overwhelmed, making you more susceptible to illness. Plus! Your friends probably miss you.
Mega immune booster. Add some garlic into your meals this winter to help build up your immunity. Do you like olives? Those olives stuffed with a clove of garlic are a powerful and direct way to get it into your system in healthy doses. Garlic paired with your reishi mushroom supplement will ensure that the common cold will have a very difficult time making any headway with you.
Minimize sugar intake
Finally, reduce your sugar intake. This is generally a good idea for all times of year, but cravings seem to be higher during winter. A treat here and there is not a problem, but snacking on high-sugar-content foods can really put pressure on your system. Sugar kills the immunity that you have worked so hard to build up in with the previous steps, and it can also raise cholesterol, lead to obesity, and overload your liver. The negative side effects of sugar are vast and mind-blowing.