Health Tips: Get Sick Less and Feel Better This Winter
Winter Health Tips
Winter is upon us.
Snowfall has cancelled flights and delayed schools as far south as Austin, Texas!
Days are short, people are feeling sluggish. The post-holiday hangover is real. Worst yet, flu season is looming.
Maybe you aren’t feeling like getting out of bed in the morning...Guess what? That's NATURAL!
So, how does one stay fit and healthy, but most importantly in my opinion, naturally sync your body to the season?
Our first rule will be the most important: Listen to your body.
What Not to Do
Chances are if you are reading an article about optimizing your health, you may be a Type-A personality. You probably find resistance to getting out of bed in the morning and getting to the gym this winter season, but are unaware it is not a sign of weakness or laziness.
Instead, you force yourself to continue to wake up at 5 am, push harder through your workouts, talk down to yourself for not being “disciplined”, and have a couple extra cups of coffee to keep yourself operating at full speed.
Alas, after a few weeks of this, atop holiday spirits and Christmas cookies, your body wears down and eventually you catch that lingering cold that never quite goes away.
You feel sluggish, order Chinese food because you don’t feel like cooking, and eventually end up with the winter blues or seasonal affective disorder.
Here are some quick tips to help you accept your body’s natural response to winter, rather than fight against it.
I love waking up early and getting a jump on the day, but when my alarm goes off at 5 or 6 am and it's still dark out, that extra surge of stress is counterproductive to having a great day.
Forget the science of raised cortisol for a moment. If the first thing you say when you wake up to your alarm is, “fuck me sideways, I hate my life”, I’d suggest making some lifestyle changes.
Maybe your boss could care less about your cortisol and there isn’t much you can do about it…If thats the case, it sounds like you need a new job. (While you’re job hunting, look south where you can receive year round Vitamin D like Dr. Mercola suggests!) I know this is harsh advice, but you deserve a lifestyle that permits you to be healthy.
If you have the luxury of sleeping in, listen to your body and take advantage.
If you really want to optimize like I do, look up sunrise in your location and set your alarm for that time each day. Sunrise was between 7:00-7:20 am when I was in Austin this December, so that's when I woke up. I packed my lunch the night before to save time in the morning and avoid having to roll out of bed in the dark.
Bottom line: it’s winter. Sleep more!
Okay my hunter-gatherer friend, pop quiz: what fruits grow outside where you live in the winter time?
I know, I know…you could easily find bananas and strawberries at the grocery store (mainly genetically modified, picked early, and ripened on a cargo ship), but is this what your body was designed to eat during the winter time?
If you are trying to sync yourself with the planet and stay warm this winter, fast-burning carbs are not going to help the cause. You are probably less active in the winter time (as you were designed to be) so why carb up, spiking your blood sugar and insulin and adding to the stress on your body?
Take a hint from people indigenous to the polar regions and eat healthy fats and fish rich in omega 3 to help you stay warm. If you haven't heard by now, healthy fats don’t make you fat.
Think of it it this way…if you were building a fire to stay warm all night, would you throw gasoline and kindling on it?
No. You’d put on a slow burning log to fuel your sustained warmth.
Avoid carbs - especially sugar, alcohol, and grains which damage your immune system. Cut dairy especially if you feel congested.
Remember: it’s easier to get sick during the winter time…you’ll have to make some sacrifices in your diet.
Netflix and Chill
This winter, do yourself a favor and be more conservative with your energy. Skip that extra workout, extra cocktail, or extra Valentine’s Day treat. Your body needs as much energy as possible to fight off sickness.
Remember, it’s okay if you feel a little low this winter, it’s how your body was designed to operate this time of year.
Be kind to yourself this winter, embrace the season, and spend your time looking inward. Soon it will be warm and you’ll have the whole world to explore.
Want to take your health and wellness to the next level? Join Luz Garcia and I for six days in the Costa Rican Rainforest practicing yoga and mindfulness and listen to nearly 100 episodes of the Live Different Podcast.