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Maintaining good health during the summer months is a breeze. The days are longer, allowing more time for exercise, fresh fruits and vegetables are plentiful and, because we can get out and enjoy hours of sunshine, we get the vitamin D our bodies need for strong bones and improved immunity.
Winter is another story. By the time the Winter Solstice (the shortest day of the year) rolls around, we have lost about six hours of sunshine from our day. Fresh produce is a lot more limited and because the days are cold and the nights come early, we tend to hole up, get cozy and eat. By December, many of us have lost our drive for exercise, and to make matters worse, we find ourselves eating way too much calorie-dense food.
For some, all it takes to get back on track is a good ol’ fashioned New Year’s resolution. For others, it’s the increase in daylight hours and slowly warming temps. But what if you could stop yourself from falling off the fitness horse altogether? What if you could keep yourself motivated through the fall and the holiday season – maybe even get to the other side of winter without compromising your health? You can, and it’s all about having a good plan and sticking to it. Here are 8 simple tips to help you get started:
- Don’t stop exercising. Get your heart rate up for at least half an hour every day (no matter how badly you don’t want to).
- Force down those veggies. Don’t sacrifice vitamins and minerals for unhealthy comfort food.
- Add medicinal foods to your cooking (e.g. onion, garlic, pepper, sage, basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme and horseradish).
- Lighten up on the comfort food (if you need to, keep a food diary to stay on track).
- Get out and play in the sunshine. Let that vitamin D hit your face and forearms a few minutes each day.
- Hydrate. (And we don’t mean with hot chocolate!)
- Limit screen time. And while you’re at it, don’t eat in front of the TV.
- Stay social. Experts say that being connected to others helps improve the immune system.
Maintaining healthy practices through the end of the year takes getting into the right mindset now. Today is the perfect time to begin building that go get ‘em attitude. With some will power and a few good rules, you could come out of the other side of winter feeling happy and fit.
And, if you find yourself straying from the course, be forgiving. It’s easy to lose focus and momentum now that Fall has arrived – just get back to a healthy routine as quickly as you can.