Booo…it’s getting dark early and so chilly at night. Hibernation season is ascending upon us. The average person gains 1-2 pounds in the fall and winter seasons… and guess what? That extra weight is often retained, meaning a steady gain year to year. Imagine 10 years from now being 10 pounds heavier? Ugh! Sometimes the small unnoticeable gains are the hardest to control. How to resist comfort food and curling up on the couch with a blanket and a remote control? Here are 10 ways to light up those chilly nights:
1. Move if You Want to Move! First and foremost, REMEMBER that exercise creates more energy than it expends. You WILL feel more energy if you get some exercise in the evening than if you don’t. No matter how zapped you feel when you get home on a dark and chilly night, you can get energized by getting in some physical activity. Keep in mind the weather is making us feel more tired than we really are.
2. Quick Change. When you get home from work immediately change into active/workout clothes, regardless of whether you plan to workout or not. Don’t put on pajamas, comfy lay around clothes, or leave your work clothes on, all of those discourage your being active. If you are dressed for activity, you are more likely to do it.
3. Music Therapy. When you get home in the evening, put some fun high energy music on to pep up your energy level. Make a soundtrack for working out or dancing and play it when cooking dinner or doing chores around the house (on earphones even if you don’t want to disturb anyone). You will be amazed at how much music affects your mood and energy level. This will help to keep your energy level up in the evening and increase your motivation to do some exercise.
4. Light it Up! Many of these ideas so far have to do with setting the stage for how you want to feel. Wardrobe, music, and lights! Since it’s dark and dreary outside, turn on some lights inside to keep yourself awake and energized. Dark rooms are going to make you want to sit and rest, or even go to sleep. It is amazing how much light can affect how energized we feel.
5. Heating and Cooling. The temperature of your house also affects your energy level. Think about it. If it’s freezing, you want to curl up under a blanket. If it’s too warm, you feel sleepy. Notice how the temperature affects your energy levels and adjust the heating and your dress accordingly.
6. The TV Workout. Pick 1-2 favorite TV shows and make watching them contingent on doing some exercise, meaning you can only watch the show if you are on the treadmill, bike or using some other equipment. You can do this for your new fall shows or even rent the DVD of a series that you missed from last year. The key is to make watching the shows part of your workout. It makes the workout go by faster and puts limits on how sedentary your TV time is. Be sure to put the Tivo on the TV that is by the treadmill, not the couch or bed!
7. Cue Yourself. Keep free weights or other small exercise equipment near couch and/or TV as cues to remind you to do your exercise. Don’t fret too much over whether it’s an eye sore, instead find a nice hiding place for it when company comes, which is probably not all that frequently anyway.
8. Indoor Outdoor Plan. A big mistake I see people make is getting too attached to outdoor exercise in the summer and having no backup plan for when the weather changes. It is extremely important to establish both an indoor and an outdoor exercise plan. Make sure you have an accessible workout both indoors and outdoors so weather can’t be a reason for you to miss a workout. Need equipment? Get used stuff on www.Craiglist.org where you can get it for way less than retail. Best thing about used exercise equipment is that 9 times out of 10, the person bought it and never used it, so it should be good as new!
9. Healthy Seasonal Recipes vs Comfort Foods. I walked into a Starbucks today and felt excited for fall after seeing the Pumpkin Scones, Salted Caramel Lattes, and Cinnamon Donuts… then I saw the calorie counts and the needle went off the record…vvvrrrppp! If you love to celebrate with food, you must find healthy recipes to do so. For example, a simple apple baked with cinnamon and topped with a dollop of vanilla yogurt is a low calorie way to feel the season. You don’t need a 500 calorie scone to do it!
10. Heads Up the Holidays Are Coming. Now is a good time to make a holiday strategy. The bottom line is that no holiday should last longer than the date on the calendar. When it’s over so needs to be the culinary celebration. Make plans to contain holiday eating to that day only, whether it means sending away/tossing leftovers or being careful not to have anything leftover. I’m ducking as I write this, but yep, this includes Halloween, folks.
Now it’s your turn… what are your cold weather strategies for staying active and keeping it healthy? Would love to hear them!
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