This is the time of year when people start getting gung ho about their goals for the new year. For many those goals will include goals to lose weight or generally improve their fitness levels and ‘change’ their body. Sadly it is also the time when our bodies are naturally the most resistant to changes such as these. Why??? Because they are programmed that way!
During the winter months we naturally want to hybernate more, sleep more, and stay warm and cozy. The body doesn’t like to lose body fat or expend much energy this time of year. What might work well any other time of year is LESS likely to work in the cold weather months and we need to adjust and learn to nurture ourselves a bit more. Making strides to better health is an awesome goal but we also don’t need to needlessly stress our bodies during what can be an already stressful time of year (holidays, dark days, cold weather). Our bodies need TLC and here are some ways you can nourish your body during the winter months so you can stay well, be less stressed, and hopefully encourage your body to work with you on your goals and not against you.
Eat Warming Foods
When we think about slimming down or getting healthier we often think of cooling foods like salads, fruits, and green smoothies. If you want to cool your metabolism off then go ahead and eat those foods. If you want to fire up your metabolism than you need to pick more appropriate foods. For winter months we can choose from a whole world of warming foods like kale, collards, mustard greens, brussels sprouts, garlic, clove, squash, parsnips, cinnamon, coconut, fenugreek, pine nuts, walnuts, cashews, turmeric, mushrooms, and vinegar.
Eat With the Season
We need different nutrients at different times of year and we need to eat more of what nature intended for us during the seasons rather than what we can have shipped to us from across the world. If you love smoothies than go ahead and have one but use an apple or pear rather than frozen strawberries or a banana. Foods shipped across long distances will also be full of pesticides, waxes, preservatives and other chemicals meant to preserve them and keep them attractive looking after their journey.
Eat Nourishing Foods
It is especially important to eat nutrient dense foods in the cold weather months. Organ meats are an excellent choice. Liver, heart and kidney contain some of the highest concentrations of several nutrients and have been prized in traditional cultures for this reason. Fish oils are also excellent, especially fermented cod liver oil, as are bone broths and gelatin. If your body is starved for nutrients it will be less than cooperative when you want it to shed pounds, gain muscle, or otherwise change.
Change Your Sleep Patterns
You need more sleep in the winter months. 8-10 hours at least is critical and the general thought is that we also need to get as much sleep before midnight as we possibly can. Those hours are more rejuvenating and healing than those after midnight, so get to bed earlier and invest in blackout curtains so that unnatural light is not adversely effecting your sleep. Also look into earthing…
Bring Some Light Into Your Life
It’s cold outside so we are less likely to get outside, even if we see the sun peeking out. Many folks have to work so they are indoors and away from natural light for a big chunk of the day and usually have to get up and go before the sun comes up. If at all possible get outside for a walk every day, even if it is only 10 minutes. Use a wake-up light if you are using blackout curtains or have to get up while it is still dark. These lights simulate the sunrise. Light gradually increases for 30 minutes before your alarm time (whatever that may be) to gently prepare your body to wake up and feel more energetic at the start of your day. A vitamin D supplement is also a very good idea.
Because the cold weather months are drying and we because aren’t as likely to be eating those cold watery foods we need to make sure we are drinking enough water. Consumption of caffeinated tea and coffee typically increases and can dehydrate us even more, so drink your water. Your body needs to stay lubricated and your skin will thank you as well.
A few simple changes can help you nourish your body during the winter months and make it more receptive to the changes you want to see in the new year. Good luck!
Sunday, December 29th, 2013