I used to think of winter as a season to just get through – being in Vancouver, SAD is a very real thing and I always found this time of year to be a really hard one for me. Being a dyed-in-the-wool summer baby, I’d literally just be counting down the days until daylight stretched longer and the temps warmed up. A couple years ago though, I made a concerted effort to try to really embrace winter more and everything that the season offers – it’s here for a reason obviously, and there had to be a way to enjoy it.
While I still need to be on top of my Vitamin D levels and be wary of a few winter pitfalls that still happen to me (like refusing to exit the house when it’s pouring rain, the problem [and blessing!] of working from home), I can honestly say it didn’t take long for me to genuinely love the season. It’s helped me understand how a year’s structure is really mirroring life itself: there’s a productive period, a fun period, a time to rest, a time for new beginnings, etc. Each season offers what you need, so I try to really soak in those hygge winter vibes while also honouring the fact that as an active, adventurous type, there’s also still so much winter offers! One thing that’s majorly helped me enjoy all these elements of the season is also being really on top of my health, which is something that can easily slip during a season that beckons us to stay inside and get cozy. I thought I’d share the 8 super easy health hacks that I employ during the season to not only keep me healthy physically (especially with all the travel I do, I feel like I’m constantly having to keep sniffles or a cough at bay!), but also keep me happy! Read on to learn all 8!
- 1. My lemon juice cubes: I posted this on my Insta Story awhile ago and I swear, I’ve never had more DM’s slide into my inbox! I have to say, I was impressed with myself when it occurred to me to freeze my lemon juice portions instead of squeezing every morning (I’m not the most organized human being, so anything that’s lightly Kondo-esque like this is quite shocking for me). As you guys might already know, I’m a devotee to my hot water + lemon juice + pinch of salt routine. It sets a tone for my morning, helps me ease into my day and alkalinizes my body and resets my mineral balance. All you have to do is grab some lemons, juice them and pour into an ice tray – pop one out every morning, add a pinch of salt and then add hot H2O! Hydration is something a lot of people skimp on in the winter so this serves as a healthy reminder first thing in the AM, plus it’s a breeze to do (I’ve now employed Matt to do it for me since he gets up before me, don’t worry we’re equal I always make breakfast!).
- 2. Get an Instant Pot: or at the very least a really good pot or break out your slow cooker! But honestly, we got an Instant Pot this winter after years of being slow cooker fans and it’s been a game changer. Not only does it encourage you to cook more at home (which is something we’re not always great about over the winter, and particularly during the holidays), but the thing you should really be focusing on is hearty, broth-rich soups and stews. Take advantage of the seasonal vegetables that abound around this time of year and not only get your nutrient levels up in a really healthy, tasty way, but your hydration too if you focus on broths! Make your own bone broth, or if you’ve gone mostly plant-based as I have, experiment with some protein-rich veg soups. I’m even making a coconut yogurt this weekend to try out the yogurt setting! Seriously, a game changer. You can shop Instant Pots here.
- 3. Double-duty your nights in with foam rolling: I’m not even ashamed to admit this – I love watching TV. The only reason I feel the need to justify this is that my older sister always loves to go on and on about how she doesn’t even own a TV and hates the noise of it and how it makes her feel lazy and blah blah blah. Who cares Natasha!!! You’re not cooler than me! (PS I love my sister very much but like also whatever) I am a reality TV junkie (currently in a deep RHONY binge) and love watching all the new docs and series on Netflix. What I do try to do though is to not just sit on the couch and enter a deep vortex every time (though sometimes that’s cool) – I actually keep my foam roller to the side of the couch and when I settle down to watch some episodes in the evening, I whip out my roller and really spend a solid hour foam rolling, followed by some stretching and mobility. It’s a win-win across the board: my body is happier and my spirit is happier for having spent some time with the crazy ladies of NYC.
- 4. Sweat it out in an infrared sauna: our gym has an infrared sauna and I try to spend at least 20 minutes in it every week. While in the summer, I might not exactly be craving a sit in the sauna after a sweaty workout followed by a sweaty walk home in the sun, it’s really the perfect time to reap all the benefits of an infrared sauna when the temps are cold and you’re craving the heat. Whether it’s after a workout or on its own, a lot of gyms have saunas nowadays and if yours doesn’t, a lot of cities now have a lot of drop-in saunas! Just google your city and “infrared sauna” and I’m sure you’ll find tons – I know here in Vancouver, a lot of the float spas offer them, in addition to a lot of yoga studios. Infrared saunas help with detoxification, relaxation, muscle recovery, circulation, metabolism and even help give you a better sleep!
- 5. Consider a workout app: it can be hard to get out to your usual studios in the winter (I’m lucky my gym is super close to me, but most of my other studios I like to also work out at I’ve been skipping out on – just too icky with the rain to make the trek some days!). Or maybe your gym is nearby but it just gets dark at 4PM and you feel depressed about making the trek there! I’ve totally been there. I usually like to rely on trainers for help with my workouts, but I recently downloaded the Sweat App (by Kayla Itsines – not a fan of her BBG though) and I’ve been loving the PWR program in it by Kelsey Wells since I love weight training. I love it because if I’m stuck at home or if I’m travelling, I have a no-brainer workout to do (and can modify if I don’t have weights) and I love the gaming aspect of it since it’s all built into an app. There’s also streaming workouts like obé, or the BBS app by Body by Simone and my nutrition guru Kelly Leveque of Body Love (which is the general nutrition guidelines I follow if you’re curious). Lots of options to keep you sweating, even if you’re snowed in!
- 6. Get into teas and mylks: you’re already craving a warm drink, so why not play around with teas that support your health? I’m a big fan of dandelion root, especially after the holidays or after travelling since it really supports your liver and helps detoxify your body. I also like anything with ginger in it to boost my circulation, and for its taste alone but also for my tummy, I love peppermint. I’m a big fan of coffee and can’t do without my coffee in the AM, but after that I try to switch to water or some tea. In the evening if I want something a bit more decadent, I love making myself a golden mylk. I love this recipe by Minimalist Baker but also love local brand Blume’s pre-made mix! Apparently golden mylk (whose star ingredient is turmeric) not only helps combat inflammation, but it’s really, really good for winding you down for sleep. This is the time to really support your body’s health when viruses and germs abound, so up your tea game and you might even find a new fave to keep year-round (and ice in the summer, something I love doing with peppermint especially!). Finally, in Ayurvedic medicine, you’re really encouraged to hydrate via warm drinks as it’s said that your body absorbs it better than cold water. I personally really believe in Ayurvedic teachings but I know not everyone does (one of my best friends is a doctor and I know it’s a struggle for her to hear me ramble on about oil pulling’s benefits all the time), but either way, most people don’t like drinking cold water in the winter so why not try it!
- 7. Strap on a fitness tracker: I am a naturally competitive person and one person I really love to compete with is my Fitbit. It also scares me a bit that I refer to it as a person but that’s what it feels like – it’s buzzing during the day reminding me I’m not hitting my steps goals, reminds me to drink my water, tracks my sleep and sends me insights that actually helps, etc, etc. It’s been a great asset to me as far as being more aware of my health in general, and while I’ve always been really active, I’ve noticed myself being more conscious than ever before about getting my steps in (particularly important on rest days between workouts or when I’m travelling and struggling to get my sweat sessions in). I find in the summer I’m moving a lot naturally, whether it’s biking to commute or walking to soak in the sun or playing at the beach. In the winter though, it’d be really easy to hardly get outside at all – I work from home after all! Having my Fitbit and knowing I need to hit my 10K goal has really encouraged me to get outside and move my body, which also always helps me feel better from a mood perspective.
- 8. Get an air purifier: even with efforts to get outside more, you are just inside more often in the winter – it’s a really hard thing to get around. I love my candles, wood fires in our fireplace and finally, being a top floor of an older building, we naturally get a lot of dust in our space (which I’m actually super sensitive to) – all producing irritants, allergens and pollutants in a space that’s typically got no windows open in an effort to beat the cold. I’ve talked about my Dyson air purifier here and am obsessed – I’ve really noticed a difference in our air quality and I love how intuitive it is, going off on its own when I blow out a candle or light a fire. You can get a bunch of different air purifiers at different price points though, so seriously make sure you look into them, particularly if you work from home or do some work-from-home days! It’s a super easy and passive way to make sure you’re keeping yourself healthy in the winter.
And that’s it! I hope you loved this post guys – I always love trying out new things health-wise for myself so if you ever have any requests, just let me know via email or a comment and I’ll do my best to cover it! Coming up soon though is my do-anywhere resistance band workout, can’t wait to share!