As summer comes to an end and squirrels show up again in our gardens looking for food, the days get shorter and temperatures colder, it feels as though we are regressing to the inside – and it doesn’t feel healthy.
Summer salads are getting replaced by hearty meals, an ice cold juice swapped for a hot chocolate and instead of going to the beach or for a bike ride, we catch up on Netflix.
But since you are noticing it, it’s a perfect time to act on it and make sure you stay healthy going into winter.
Drink enough water
In summer, when temperatures are warm, we drink more easily because it helps us cool down.
But making sure we hydrate is one of the most important things we can do for our body. We need water to function and deliver oxygen to our body, not to mention to regulate body temperature and help our brain to function. It is also key in avoiding wrinkles and having healthier, more beautiful skin.
So always keep a bottle of water with you (a re-useable bottle, of course), drink regularly and remember to drink more during and after a workout. Remember that the feeling of thirst is already a sign on dehydration!
Keep the vitamins coming
After Freshers’ Flu, comes winter and there will be more and more bacteria in the air. On pubic transport, at work and everywhere – you can’t escape them. But you can fight them. The best way to avoid getting ill is making sure your body is healthy and ready to fight off anything coming its way.
So make sure you have a lot of vitamins in your diet!
Yes, supermarkets and pharmacies stock pills of vitamin supplements, but you don’t need those if you just make sure your diet includes many fruits and vegetables with different vitamins.
If you struggle to eat fruit during the day because you don’t like snacking or forget to carry it with you, consider having a smoothie with your breakfast (or as your breakfast) or have a juice after work. As the cold season is coming closer, find a source of vitamin C you like… and use it!
Also make sure you eat enough foods containing Vitamin D because we usually get a lot of this particular vitamin from exposure to sunlight… which decreases drastically in winter and we can easily get a Vitamin D deficiency.
Find a new workout
In summer, you got used to going for a walk once in a while, maybe a swim in the sea on a weekend and a run in the evening, but as it is getting colder, it becomes harder and harder to find the energy.
Find new workouts!
Decide what you like doing independently from the weather and daylight (because it will get even darker) and get into it right away. This could be deciding to get the wellies out and brave the Sunday walk no matter the weather, or joining a new class at the gym, or simply finding a workout online you like. Whatever will help you through the winter.
Choose healthy meals
In summer, the only real temptation is ice cream, otherwise you can easily have a very healthy diet and lifestyle because a salad is the refreshing meal you crave, but in winter it’s easy to go for very hearty meals and snacks, or drink hot sugary drinks to keep warm.
Once you are aware of your winter habits – try and change them. Check out feel good winter recipes in advance which are packed with flavour and are healthy. Look at seasonal winter vegetables (roots, mostly) and fruits (get some apples to make snacks and desserts) and make a list of meals you would enjoy so you can turn to them when you notice yourself making too much comfort food.
Soups for example are great – from vegetable stews to creamy potato or squash soups, pies filled with spinach (vitamin C) or stuffed pumpkin.
While we are on the topic of meals… if you are going to spend more time at home to avoid the cold, you may as well try out some new things. It is easy for us to go and get anything from the supermarket, but why not try and make it yourself?
It’s not only fun, but will be the healthier option because you can eat the same food, minus the preservatives, added sugar or fat. Look at your snacks or breakfast for example: Why not make your muesli or granola with all the things you love? Why not make hummus yourself? Soak and cook your chickpeas, get some tahini, mix it and add the seasoning.
Salad dressing, bread, snacks, seasonings… The list goes on and on of things you can make to save packaging and save your body from unnecessary additives.
Get your bike checked
We drive too much. That’s a fact. So let’s cut down. I bet you there are at least three trips you can make that don’t require a car. Whether it’s going to the shop for a couple of small things (see, we are not suggesting you do a big shop and carry it all, just the occasional milk bottle), picking up a take away from around the corner or getting to the gym (extra workout).
Get your bike checked and make sure it is safe for winter (that includes lights and reflectors), get a basket in case you carry small things, and make it a point not to use your car if your journey is under two miles (make it three or four if you are keen, but you can start small).
Take your sleep seriously
Sleep is important and yet too often neglected.
So make an effort to improve your sleep, which means you first need to analyse your sleep and decide what is good, bad, and what needs improving. It could be the quality of sleep or the length of sleep which makes you tired and lack energy.
Try and get into a routine of going to sleep at the same time every night (or as close to it as possible), avoiding distractions such as television or phones (get an old-fashioned alarm to put next to your bed if that helps) and make sure the last hour before bed is focused on winding down. This could be reading or relaxing or preparing for the next day to feel relaxed before going to sleep.