Fall into Balance
The sun is still shinning and the weather has been pleasant, but a chill is in the air. The days are growing shorter and shorter and the seasons are surely changing. All of these elements require a shift in habit. We are indeed creatures living in rhythm with the world around us. We need to change our focus with the seasons in order to stay balanced and healthy.
With the change in light and temperature our sleep patterns may change; our appetite and cravings, our immune system, our energy levels may all be effected like the trees changing colors. This is a time to reset and reconnect with yourself. If you keep moving like its 80 degrees outside you could start to feel more soreness from activity and you could end up depleting your immune system. Let’s explore some useful ways to change with the coming season. This can help you transition with excitement and curiosity.
Outdoor activities can become less accessible due to weather and visibility. Some warriors keep it going and have the right gear to make it work. For others it becomes a real chore and risk of injury is much greater with cold muscles and potentially slippery surfaces. Here we will discuss things to add to an outdoor routine if you want to continue training in the elements as well as some options for switching it up to indoor activities.
Tips for training in the cold and dark
- Warm up: be sure to move all your joints though a functional range of motion before heading out. Let your muscle get activated to reduce injury
- Start slow: your blood will move inward to maintain core temperature in the cold and this can compromise muscle activation. Start your activity slowly and with caution until you feel warm down to your feet then gradually increase your pace of movement
- Gear up: you will heat up as you get moving but be sure to protect your hands and head from cold and your feet from cold and moisture.
- Light up: wear reflective gear and blinking lights if you are training in the dark. Even if you are on sidewalks or paths you still may encounter objects moving faster than you and lights could save your life.
- Hydrate: the colder the temperature, the dryer the air. You will lose water when training in cold weather so make sure you are well hydrated.
- Recovery: sauna, soak, and stretch to keep your tissue supple and healthy after training.
Great indoor activities
Winter is a really good time to learn a new skill and explore new activities. Some of the suggestions I will make here might be outside the box for you but I challenge you to ask yourself if there is anything you might want to try.
- Swimming: soooo nice when its cold out and really keeps your whole body moving. Swimming is also great for arthritis and disc issues
- Spinning: there are countless classes available at all times of day. These classes can help anyone at any level of fitness get a great sweaty workout
- Dance classes: partner dancing, ballet, modern, hip-hop, tap, salsa, Zumba….. the list goes on and on. These classes can be so much fun and the skills are also fun to pull out at holiday parties. As the saying goes if you can walk, you can dance. Give it a try. I guarantee you will have fun.
- Weight lifting: new or experienced I suggest getting with a trainer. They can help you set goals, work on form, and transform your body. There is nothing like revealing a killer physique on a weekend visit to the sun in February.
- Indoor sports: Tennis, basketball, volleyball, squash…. There are plenty of places in the city to play games. Getting on a league can help keep you motivated and meet new friend who will help keep you active.
The new season also brings in a variety of fruits and vegetable that are perfect for building immunity, improving digestion, and adding warmth. It is no coincidence that certain seasons bring in specifically colored foods. Vibrant orange and red root vegetables, gold and orange squashes, dark hearty greens, and fleshy tart and sweet fruits all provide the exact balance of nutrients needed for your body at this time of year.
Taste the rainbow
- Bright orange and yellow veggies and squashes: Butternut, acorn, winter, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, carrots all share the nutrient beta carotene that help our bodies produce vitamin A. This help improve bone density, improves immunity, slows the growth of cancer cells, and helps to lower blood pressure. Another interesting fact about beta carotene is that it is essential for improving eyesight AND (no surprise) night vision. As the light of day decrease these veggies come into season just when we need them.
- Don’t toss those seeds! Squash and pumpkin seeds offer a mega dose of zinc. A mineral that prevents allergies and fight viruses.
- Dark and hearty greens: Kale, cabbage, collards, beet, and turnip greens are all loaded with fiber, calcium, chlorophyll, and flavonoids. These greens are also high in an antioxidant called quercetin that reduces inflammation AND helps with seasonal allergies.
- Fruits and berries: Pears, apples, cranberries, grapes, persimmons all bring a rich blend of immune boosting antioxidants like vitamin C and resveratrol. These fruits also have high amounts of amylopectin, a type of fiber that helps to regulate blood glucose and helps to detox the blood and liver. The detoxification action of pectin helps to remove pathogens from the blood and protects against infection during the months when the immune system is under the most stress.
Tips for transitioning
Salads and raw foods are great, but not so much for the colder months. Cooking foods helps to boost mineral absorption and makes foods more digestible. Soups, bakes, congees, and stews are a great for warming and nourishing your body and increasing your intake of vital nutrients.
- Cook your greens: just look at 1lb of cooked greens vs. 1lb of raw greens and see that you can eat a larger portion when you start to break down the fibers. Watch it though, a quick steam or blanch is all you need. Look for the color to brighten and make sure there is still a bit of crunch.
- Add warming spices: ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, coriander, pepper, cayenne, clove, and nutmeg all increase circulation and digestion. This can warm your body and help ease congestion.
Keep an eye on our Simple Eats Blog for recipes and tips on seasonal cooking and improving your health.
Arrabella Schippers MMT, CPT, CHC