Taking Control of your Health in the Fall and Winter Months – 10 Simple Tips

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It happens every year.

Summer has us wanting to look and feel our best. We try extra hard to be mindful of what we are eating and spend more time working on our physique because we know we can’t hide behind our layers in ninety degree weather.  The light, fresh fruits, vegetables, and salads of the season make their appearance on our plates and we are more inclined to drink our daily recommended intake of water because we can feel our body’s physical need for it to combat the heat of the day. The sunshine brings us out of our homes to partake in outdoor activities, enjoy social time with others, and even get some much needed rest and relaxation outside (by a body of water, of course).

Lets, face it. There is just something about Summer that makes being healthy, well, a little bit easier.

Sometimes the mindset of how we approach our health in the Summer does not always transition into the Fall and Winter seasons like it should. As it gets colder outside it’s not always conducive to certain activities and it’s much easier to be content with staying indoors. This can have a huge impact on our mood and even lead to overeating and sedentary lifestyle. The later part of the year becomes hectic as kids go back to school and before you know it the holiday season is in full swing and you’re stressed about gifting, tired of all the holiday parties, and ten pounds heavier than you were last time you had a second to look in a mirror.

These 10 mindful tips seem so simple, but are so effective in sustaining your health through the transitioning of the seasons. It’s all about taking the first step towards developing healthy habits that will eventually become every day routine! Take a read and start implementing what you can, now!

Set your goals ahead of time – What do they say, “Fail to plan, plan to fail?” Well, that statement is actually very true.  If you know that each year it is a struggle for you to maintain your health near the end of the year, you need to set expectations of yourself and put them down on paper. Your goals will be a covenant between you and your health.

You may or may not have heard of SMART goals, but here is a quick break down.  SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound.  Here is a SMART goal example on wellbeing:

S: I want to become a more calm, relaxed, and poised person.
M: I will be able to stay collected in stressful situations and not lash out when things don’t go my way.
A: I will meditate once a day for thirty minutes on peace and tranquility.
R: I am tired of over-reacting and am ready to become a more level-headed individual.
T: Three months.

The SMART Goal StatementBy December of 2018 I will become a more calm, relaxed and poised person that is able to stay cool and collected in stressful situations and does not lash out when things do not go my way.  I will do this by meditating for thirty minutes a day on peace and tranquility. This goal is important to me because I am tired of over- reacting and I am ready to become a more level-headed individual.  

It’s important to come up with a few short-term goals and some long-term goals and evaluate your progress often.  If you find that one of your short-term goals is not progressing as nicely as you thought it might, you may want adjust your time parameters and make it one of your longer-term goals. I’ve found that putting the goals in a place where others can see them (no matter how insignificant or embarrassing you may think they are) will keep you accountable and increase your chances for success.

Keep a calendar – Organization is everything when you’re trying, not to just make it through, but to thrive during the busy seasons of life. We have places to be, people to see, and tasks that need to be ticked off of a to-do list. It can be difficult to keep every last responsibility in the back of your mind without slipping up and forgetting something important. Whether you’re tech savvy and prefer to keep everything digitalized or if you still enjoy the old school hand written calendar like myself, keeping everything in one place is one way we can save ourselves some mental distress when life gets busy. Check out The Time Management Ninja for great suggestions on how you should approach your calendar and how to effectively manage it to optimize your time.

DON’T drink your calories – I don’t know about you, but when Fall comes around the corner, I am the first to hop on the Pumpkin Spice train. Then, by the time Winter is here it’s time to switch over to the Caramel Brulée latte. I have a difficult time “enjoying in moderation” as I can always find an excuse for my favorite Starbucks seasonal selections. Swapping out some of these high caloric drinks with hot teas is a great way to cut back on the caloric intake while still being able to enjoy a cozy, warm beverage. Try different types of teas and different sweeteners and determine what works best for you.

One of my favorite tea and spice places in Charleston is called The Spice and Tea Exchange (check them out, they ship!). They have a large array of teas that you might not find elsewhere. One of my personal favorites is the Blood-Orange Smoothie Tea.

Heat your tea kettle on the stove until the water is boiling, pour the water into your favorite mug over your tea bag (or if you don’t already have one you may want to invest in a tea infuser (that way you can buy your favorite blends in bulk and save some money in the process!)). Let it diffuse for a few minutes then add a splash of milk or light cream and a bit of honey. It’s a great alternative when you’re wanting something warm and slightly sweet without all the calories.

DO drink your water – Why is it that when the heat of the summer diminishes, so does our awareness of our body’s need for water? Water is essential for the healthy functioning of your body’s processes. It aids in weight management and cognitive function. Water also flushes your body of harmful toxins through excretion while allowing your body to more efficiently absorb the great vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it takes in. It’s a natural immune booster and could be your answer to avoiding the flu this season!

So, how do we make it easier for ourselves to drink our recommended daily amount of water?  I’ve found having a go-to water bottle increases my chances. I carry my Hydroflask with me everywhere I go. It is one of my favorite purchases and I’d recommend it to anyone. I have the Sportcap which comes in handy when I’m doing any type of cardio exercise or when I’m on the go.  You can keep a water log on a mobile device app like WaterMinder or WaterLogged, by creating a water intake journal, or by using a water intake printable that can be taped to your fridge  as a fun, daily reminder to drink more H2O. Get others involved and make it a competition.

For those who avoid drinking water for lack of flavor, try out different water flavor drops or research mixed fruit and herb pairs to put into an infusing water bottle.

Maintain a consistent sleep schedule – Finding balance and consistency in your sleep cycle is often difficult when so much happens in the Fall and Winter seasons. Kids go back to school which comes with extracurricular activities, late night dinners, and homework sessions. Football season is in full-swing and watching that late night game all the way through is imperative. You can barely keep all the holiday celebrations straight and to top it off, work deadlines have your stress level at a max. We all have fought to find time for sleep. On the other hand, those of us who don’t have as many commitments may find ourselves finding it easier to go to sleep earlier and sleep longer as the sun spends less time in the sky. No matter which side you familiarize with, is important to find balance and hit the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep a day recommended for adults. Having a restful night is a sure-win way to start your day off feeling more energized and generally in a better mood to conquer the day ahead.

Invest in home gym equipment – Now, I’m not talking about going out and purchasing yourself a treadmill, elliptical, or bench press set, but if you have the funds for that, the more power to you. I would recommend at least having a floor mat, some resistance bands, and a few light hand weights within reach.  In the chillier months we spend so much time indoors, sedentary in our living spaces, why not get moving to stay warm? Take a portion of the time that you may spend on the couch and get down on the ground for floor exercises, use your hand weights in the kitchen while waiting on dinner to bake, or hop on the yoga mat in the morning to practice your sun salutations!

Try online grocery shopping – This really is a great option for all seasons, but especially for the colder months. We have all been there, trying to muster up any ounce of motivation to get to the grocery store.  How much more difficult is it when you know you’re going to have to face thirty degree weather going in and coming out of the store? Having our groceries delivered to the doorstep of our home or being able to stay in our warm cars and have the groceries delivered to our trunk in a matter of minutes is a great perk, but it also ensures that you only get what you have put in your online cart.  There isn’t that additional time spent roaming aisles and throwing items into the cart that you do not need.

Check out having your groceries shipped directly to your front door through Whole Foods Market at Amazon.com.

Research your nearest grocery store and see if they offer grocery pick-up or home delivery! Here are some of the larger grocery chains that do offer these services:

Walmart 
BI-LO
Kroger
Harris Teeter
Publix

Take your social life to the gym – Maybe you have never stepped foot in a gym in your entire life because the thought of others watching you thrust, pull, pump, dip, dodge, duck, and dive (ok, I went a little crazy there) is absolutely terrifying. Well, it can be, but there is no denying that when you go in with others, it is slightly less intimidating! Trying out a gym and inviting your inner circle to join you is great for the months when outside exercise isn’t ideal. Research gyms in your area and the classes they offer. You may be surprised what comes included in your membership. Meet up on a weekly basis for your favorite class whether that be zumba, kickboxing, spinning, yoga, or pilates and get your social fix while burning some calories.

Keep a food journal – A food journal is a useful tool in examining not only what we eat, but the patterns and connections that form our eating habits.  When you sit down for a meal, or go for that mid-day snack, it is important to take account of not only what you’re consuming, but what the setting was like, who your eating companions were, how much you ate, the speed in which you ate, how it made you feel afterwards, etc. Having this information down on paper can be helpful in more ways than one. It can help determine if there are certain settings or people that drive us to want to consume more than we normally would.  It can uncover whether or not what we perceive our diet to be is actually reality. It can also help us better recognize how certain types of foods may make us feel happy, sad, full, hungry, irritable, or ill.

A food journal is a great idea around the holidays when saturated foods and sweets are abundant. Around the holiday season we are all guilty of indulging just a bit more than normal.  Sometimes we do not see how an extra cookie here or just one more cup of eggnog there can really add up and push us well over our calorie intake for the day (not to mention these are NOT the good type of calories). Keeping an intake log for this season of life will allow you to reference it the following year and not duplicate your unhealthy patterns!

Do things that make your heart happy and healthy – When approaching our health, attitude and motivation play a key role in whether or not we will take the initiative to create a better quality of life your ourselves. If we have a negative attitude and lack motivation, it’s likely that we aren’t going to get very far. A guaranteed way of creating sustainable change in our health patterns is by doing things that we enjoy that just so happen to positively impact our health. Consider these activities:

  • Walks with good company
  • Trying a new, healthy recipe
  • Checking out local community events
  • Enjoying a new book
  • Scrapbooking important events
  • Listening to live music
  • Going to the gym
  • Quiet time with your Bible
  • Planning for your next adventure
  • Volunteering at a local charity

All of these activities can aid in physical, mental, social, emotional, and spiritual health in one way or another.  What makes your heart happy? Does it make you a healthier, more balanced being? If not, you may want to consider switching it up and trying something new!

What other tips would you recommend to help others be the healthiest versions of themselves in the Fall and Winter Months?  Share below!

 

Be well,

Tori

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