10 Winter Blues Busters
Is winter getting you down? There's no doubt that the slush, snow, ice, darkness and frigid temps can drain our stores of energy and make it tough to keep our New Year Resolutions. Finding the motivation to exercise in winter is challenging for all of us and is one of the most common complaints I hear from my personal training clients and participants in my weekly fitness classes.
Other less obvious reasons for low energy this time of year include: lack of exercise (yeah, I know, it seems like a contradiction but exercising really is energizing), lack of sleep, dehydration, poor quality of sleep (like those nights when you wake repeated to care for a crying child or to use the bathroom), consuming alcohol in the evening, boredom, making poor food choices that zap—rather than generate—your energy, sugar and caffeine crashes and a lack of fresh air (staying cooped up indoors inhaling the same stale air isn't healthy for anyone).
Exercising outside when it's dark and cold isn't fun, I know (and can be dangerous in black ice conditions!), but there's not much you can do to speed up the earth's rotation schedule. The good news is, winter doesn't last forever and besides you can always exercise indoors!
If you are feeling tired, depressed or lazy it's probably nothing more than a mild case of the winter blues. Don't despair, I have the antidote you need! (Note: Some people do develop a condition known as Seasonal Affective Disorder , or SAD, which is a form of depression that should be treated by a doctor or mental health professional.)
Nikki's Top 10 Tips for More Energy
- Get fresh air every day from even just a cracked car window or doing errands, working out outdoors, etc.
- Keep to a sleep routine. Go to bed at same time—I recommend 8 to 9 hours ahead of the alarm clock to account for interruptions.
- Drink 8 cups of water a day, but consume it early to avoid waking up for a pottie run. In other words, don't guzzle the last 4 cups 2 hours before turning in.
- Reduce caffeine intake from coffee. Try drinking tea instead. Tea has less caffeine and will enable you to cut out the highs and crashes.
- Eat less sugar.
- Drink less alcohol.
- Find a job/hobby/spiritual practice that you enjoy and can look forward to. If you love music, for example, indulge yourself. It doesn't have to take a lot of time. Try listening to 15 minutes of whatever you like— without interruption. Sometimes a little inspiration from the arts goes a long way.
- Don't overschedule yourself. Packing too much into a day is stressful.
- Plan something fun or inspiring to wake up your mind and make the time fly. A good book? A fascinating podcast? The sky is the limit.
- Get your heart rate up everyday for mood-boosting endorphins! If the weather is nasty, jump rope in your basement; take on the staircase; jog in place for 5 minutes.
I call this 60-second, energy-boosting move, The Snowflake:
Warm up for 15 seconds by either marching or jogging in place. Begin doing jumping jacks. Once you get into a rhythm, do one traditional jack, then make it harder by circling your arms and crossing them in front of you. As you circle your arms, jump up in the air, keeping your legs apart, and land in a squat. Then do a regular jack and continue alternating the two moves—jack and Snowflake—for 30 seconds. End with a 15 second march-in-place cool down. Bet you're feeling invigorated now, aren't you?
Watch this short demonstration of The Snowflake:
I'm one workout away from a great mood!
My “Slimnastics Winter Workout” video is meant for keeping resolutions though the winter or if you’re feeling a mild version of the winter blues. Turn SAD into Slim And De-stress! The video was shot on a beautiful beach in Mexico to help put you in a warm weather vacation frame of mind, but all the moves are winter-sports themed. Think olympics.
A soothing yoga stretch follows the energetic plyometic cardio workout (plyometrics combines strengthening and lenthening moves). You'll quickly experience the effects of the feel-good brain chemicals (most notably serotonin and norepinephine) seeping into your veins and the stress hormone, cortisol, retreating. Within minutes your body will go from sluggish to energized and your mood will lift, too. Don't let winter bring you down from a Cardio High!