It is winter. We are sure you’ve noticed! This is a time when we are drawn to comfort foods (often high-calorie high-GI low-quality carbs) and comfort living (usually inactive and indoors). The result is all-too-often a gain in weight, a drop in mood and a decline in overall wellness. But it does not have to be this way. Here are a few ideas to try this winter:
Spring Goals – winter is short and spring is just round the corner. Behavioural experts often recommend that we avoid long-term goals because they seem out-of-reach and even demotivating. So why not set a goal for Spring? Keep it simple and maybe try the “principle of threes” like losing 3 kilos, jogging 3 kms, walking 3 times a week, pausing to breathe and re-focus 3 times a day, etc. Short-term goal-setting can be a game-changer if you keep it simple and practical and within-reach.
Season’s Secrets – too many of us are too negative about winter. There are some positives about the colder time of year. For example you do not sweat so much, there are no mosquitoes and other bugs to hassle you, you have a whole new wardrobe to wear again, and of course not every day is cold and miserable. The idea is to bring a positive mind-set to this time of year; you’ll be surprised how much there is to enjoy.
Get Ahead – you know that many people will be “hibernating” this winter so why not see this as a opportunity to be different by being energetic, positive and healthy? It is a chance to buck the negative trend and show people how well you can be!
Change is as good as….winter might be a good time to try a new wellness approach. Maybe you cannot spend so much time outdoors so this could be a time to visit that expensive gym you pay for anyway? Or look out your exercise mat/bicycle/home gym equipment? Or join a new fitness-dance class? Or spend some quality time reading some good books (not just vegetating in front of the TV)?
Sleep – nearly all adults need 7-8 hours sleep each night and few get it. Winter brings shorter days and longer nights so this might be a time to catch up on some good healthy sleep.
Watch the weather – winter is not all rain and wind and cold. Our country enjoys a marvellous climate and even mid-winter includes many lovely days. What really helps at this time of year is some flexibility – perhaps you diarise a gym session but when you wake to some good-weather, you change the plan and take a brisk walk outdoors instead. You can still get outdoors if you want to!
Nourishment – while it is true that many traditional winter foods are a bit on the unhealthy side it is also quite possible to eat well during winter. Nourishing soups full of healthy vegetables are one example, herbal and green teas another. And you can still eat salads in winter if you want to! Of course the other thing to keep in mind is that even if you do eat a few ‘comfort foods’ on the cold dark nights you can still control portion size (all too often this simple but less-fashionable piece of dietary advice is overlooked in favour of making false promises and offering too-good-to-be-true “solutions”).
All of this really comes down to a bit of creativity and a positive attitude – you really can have a winter of wellness! Please add your own comments and ideas below.
Colin was a medical practitioner (GP) from 1988 to 2000. Since then he has worked in the wellness field, designing, developing and delivering various products and services. Out of clinical practice for many years now he no longer practices medicine formally but retains a keen interest in helping people become more-well versions of themselves. He acts as a wellness coach and not as a medical practitioner today.
Colin's approach and philosophy is based on empowerment: the notion that people only need a little help to make choices they usually already want to anyway - it's about respect and support rather than instruction or correction.
Colin lives at the Vaal Dam with his wife Cathy. He spends time walking mountains, cycling, motorbike riding, kayaking, sailing and always looking for better & better balance.