“Baby, it’s cold outside. …” Are you experiencing fatigue, low energy, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), irritability, lack of motivation, weight gain, or the urge to hibernate?
These symptoms can feel limiting and thus make it challenging to break the blues and the cycle of inactivity and nighttime eating. Self-care is especially vital in the wintertime. Here are some essential tips for elevated mood, increased energy, and a fit body this winter.
Side Plank Twist
This move nourishes the spine, stimulates the intestines, and builds core strength and balance.
Lie on your side, one elbow on the mat. If you need more cushion under your elbow, roll your mat a few times.
- Stack your feet, or rest the top toes against the bottom heel.
- Inhale and push your hips up into a side plank, raising your top arm to the ceiling.
- Exhale and raise your top hip, threading your top arm underneath your torso.
- Inhale and return to the side-plank position with your arm straight up.
Do 10-15 reps on each side.
Plank to Push-Up
This move strengthens the core, deltoids, and triceps.
- Get into plank pose with elbows on the mat.
- Rise up to straight arms (first right hand and then left hand).
- Then descend back down to elbows (first right elbow and then left elbow).
- Throughout the exercise, maintain the plank with very little hip movement.
Do 5–15 reps and then immediately switch directions.
These moves increase endorphins, chemicals in your brain that reduce your perception of pain and elicit a positive feeling in the body. These moves also burn calories while strengthening your core, legs, and heart.
Squat Jumps. Squat in a wide stance and touch your hands to the ground, keeping your chest and gaze upward. Then jump up, reaching your hands to the sky.
Mountain Climber. Get into plank position with slightly raised hips and tailbone curled under. Bring alternating knees into your chest, maintaining only one foot off the ground.
Burpees. Jump back to plank and then jump your feet forward into a wide stance squat with your chest and gaze up and your derriere down. Then explode up. For more challenge, add a tricep push-up
High Knees. Hold your hands at hip level, palms facing down. Alternate high knees up to touch your hands.
Do each of these moves for 20 seconds. Rest for 10 seconds. Repeat 8 times.
Back Row Squat
Winter posture tends to encourage rounded shoulders with a closed-off chest and face as we hunch to protect from the elements. This move will help open up your chest and heart by engaging the upper back muscles (rhomboids).
- Hold resistance tubing or cable machines in both hands and sink into a squat.
- Maintain the squat stance as you simultaneously draw your shoulder blades together. The handles should be not more than chest-width apart. Pull the handles straight back, keeping a narrow space between your elbows and your torso. Release.
Do 10-12 reps max.
Hydrate. Cold weather leaves us feeling less thirsty, but we still need to get our full intake of water. Drink a glass of purified water upon waking and in between meals for a total of eight to ten glasses per day. Aim to consume half your bodyweight (measured in pounds) in ounces of water every day.
Socialize. Smile at your neighbors. Host a dinner party and lean into laughter with your guests.
Take an inspiring class, or volunteer in your community.
Activate your abs. Abs in and up. Channel all the great core work you do in the gym into your everyday life. As you sit in your office chair, enter a room, or do the dishes, actively deepen your abdominals by drawing them into and up along your spine. This action leads to ideal posture and spinal support.
Snuggle. Cuddle up with family. Cuddling helps release the feel-good hormone oxytocin.
Feel-Good Foods and Supplements
Vitamin D. The decrease in sunlight means we get less vitamin D, which may disrupt our body’s internal clock and lead to a drop in serotonin, a brain chemical that affects mood. Good sources of vitamin D are supplements and fatty fish (salmon, tuna, trout, or sardines). It can also help to take a walk in the park and pause for a moment in a sun patch.
Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Omega 3s may play a role in lessening depression. Good sources are coldwater fish, flaxseeds or flax oil, walnuts, and supplements.
Probiotics. Ensure a clean gut with probiotic supplements and fermented foods. The microbes in our gut determine how we process nutrients and can affect our ability to lose weight.
Jessie Green is a personal trainer, Pilates instructor, actor, dancer, and owner of Greenbody in NYC. For 15 years, she’s been inspiring and empowering a wide range of clientele, including Cirque du Soleil acrobats, moms, Wall Street barons, and celebrities prepping for their next project. Contact her at ElysiumFitness.net