3 Ways to Survive, Thrive, and Be Happier in the Winter

Ok, so a cold snap has hit a large part of the country.  Thanks to social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, we get to see how others in various parts are experiencing the cold.  School closings, jammed highways, early office closings, mass panic at the grocery stores.  You name it, it’s happening. Coldness. Complete frigidity. Or, as some may call it, The Polar Vortex.

For many of us who live in areas that have cold winters, frigidity and everything having to do with it, it is unavoidable, except for the few mild winters we occasionally have.  Unless you decide to pack your bags and call a moving company, we have to deal with being cold, shoveling snow, and driving on snowy, icy roads if we need to be somewhere.  So, what can we do about it?  Of course, you can complain, but that gets old.  How about a solution?  Here are some ideas to adapt and change your life to make winter better for you.  And, no, they don’t involve spending large amounts of money on a beach vacation.

  1. Buy snow tires, and use them. ‘But you just said we don’t need to spend a lot of money‘. You’re right, but think of it this way.  You need to buy tires for your car every few years, anyway.  By purchasing snow tires, you will have 4 additional tires to rotate into the mix, so the life of each set of tires will be extended, meaning you will have purchased two sets of all season tires by the time your snow tires and your current set of tires wear out.  Why will snow tires help you survive winter, you ask?  Because often we need to get places when it is snowing out, and snow tires give us the extra grip and on the road that our car needs to respond to winter conditions and unexpected ice.  And, with practice, you will be more confident in maneuvering your car during a snowstorm.  With that said, I do recommend taking your car to an empty parking lot and practicing stopping abruptly and turning so that you know what you and your car are capable of, without having other cars and people around you.  ‘But I have 4WD or AWD on my car, aren’t snow tires a thing of the 1970s?’  4WD and AWD cars are designed to move all 4 tires and will help you out of the snow if you are stuck.  That is it.  It does not give you any leverage over a car without 4WD/AWD when it comes to stopping and turning.  This is a huge misconception and is often why you see all those huge SUVs in ditches in the winter time.  4WD does not equal 4W Stop.  If the idea of driving in wintery conditions puts you in to a state of panic, there are driving schools that offer winter driving skills. I also came across this quiz to help you brush up on your skills knowledge.  Imagine—driving with peace of mind, and confidence in the winter, (now that is a healthy thing, isn’t it?)
  1. Take on a winter activity. Skiing, snowboarding, and if you’re looking for something less expensive, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or ice skating.  Many outdoor centers, parks, and skating rinks rent this equipment out rather inexpensively.  Or, walking—this requires no additional equipment besides warm winter clothes and footwear.  Believe it or not, I am not someone who tolerates cold very well.  I am always cold and am often having battles with my husband because I like to turn up the heat. I originally took on skiing in college because I grew up with a mother who abhors the cold.  I didn’t want to end up this way because, unless I move to a warmer climate, winter comprises a large part of the year in the Northeast USA.  I wanted to learn to enjoy it, not spend the majority of winter indoors. I switched to snowboarding 16 years ago, and have never looked back.  I love the fresh air, the scenery, getting away from home for a little while, and the exposure to sunlight and getting my Vitamin D exposure on a bright, clear day.  Getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D and fresh air will also help ease depression and anxiety, and boosts the immune system, (imagine having another line of defense against those nasty winter bugs).  One of my favorite quotes is, ‘A bad day of skiing/snowboarding is still better than a good day at the office’. I couldn’t agree more!  The human body is meant to move year-round, so find out what it is you enjoy, and do it. If you’re interested in taking up an activity that involves purchasing equipment, check out places like FreecycleCraigs List, or E bay.  Or if you prefer new, try sites such as Evo or Sierra Trading Post, where there are always great deals on various kinds of winter equipment.
  1. Just_do_something. The key to good health is not only good sleep, eating clean and exercising, but being relaxed and happy in your environment.  There are plenty of other ways to survive and thrive in winter and beyond that you will hear about in just about every other health blog, such as practicing yoga and meditation, being around people who lift you up instead of bring you down, or doing activities and hobbies that make you happy.  Find something that you truly love, and do it.  And if you’re lucky enough to go on a beach vacation (or two, or three), this winter, then go for it!

If you have any other ideas about how to survive (and thrive) in winter, please feel free to write me.

Happy Winter, and Go Team USA!

 

20140124-154952.jpg

Nature’s Grocer

I decided to take an impromptu trip home to see my family in NY state today, and during the drive, my body reminded me that it was time for lunch. Of course, anyone who strives to eat healthy understands how difficult it can be on the road.

While driving along I-84 going west, I saw a huge billboard advertising a gluten free bakery and health food store called Nature’s Grocer in Vernon, CT. Ironically, the billboard is placed right next to a huge McDonald’s sign. The words ‘Gluten Free’ mean the world to me these days, so of course that really stood out. I’m also preparing for a trip to Paris later this month, and was listening to Coffee Break French‘s lesson on ordering a coffee, so a hot beverage was also sounding spectacular, so I stopped.

Nature’s Grocer is so close to the highway, and chocked full of gluten free snacks, healthy nibbles, and a full stock of supplements. You might know by now that my preferred diet is Paleo, so I even was able to pick up a Vermont Smoke and Cure Summer Sausage and a Paleo ‘treat’ by Hail Merry Miracle Tart. Yum!

I always love to share these kinds of gems when I find them, because they are few and far between. Typically, I am always carrying food with me, but today I ran out of the house in attempts to hit the road at a decent hour.

What about you? How do you deal with healthy eating while traveling?

20130303-132100.jpg

20130303-132125.jpg

20130303-132135.jpg

Snacking at North Station

It’s tough to make the 6:25pm commuter rail when I finish my last patient at 6pm in Copley Square, but I was feeling brave and decided to take the risk tonight. Alas, I missed the train, with the next one not leaving for another hour.

All this Paleo eating and working out lately has me hungry and expecting meals on a regular schedule, and today was no exception. Famished, I came to terms with the fact that I wouldn’t eat until I got home. Only McDonalds, Crazy Dough’s Pizza, (no GF options), an ice cream place, and a bar present as the only food and beverage options. As my Harry Potter book became less interesting when my stomach started growling louder, I looked ahead and saw the Newstand. Perhaps, just maybe, they will have a healthy snack. I thought I was really going out on a limb by hoping there were Kind bars. I approached the Newstand. Popcorn, Planters Salted Nuts, Pringles, Combos..I’m SOL, aren’t I? I kept going. Found the snack bars..Nature Valley, Kellogg’s, Nutri Grain…wait. I think I see it. The beautiful, colorful wrapper of the Kind bar. Could it be? Yes, and there was a selection. I grabbed the first two that were not so loaded with sugar, turned around, and saw, (gulp), organic dried pineapple and apples. I paid for my two bars and pineapple, and almost $8 later, I felt like I was in good shape until I got home.

20130301-192014.jpg