Wintertime often causes people anxiety. They’ve spent the summer getting into shape and they fear going back to square one with the onset of short days, slippery sidewalks and the call of the warm couch. I hear that.
I think the key to winter is being consistent and doing what you like to do (so you’re not hating it ie. riding my bike on the trainer….aaaaahhh). Look at it as maintenance. Even better – do new things. Winter is a great time to try new things that you don’t normally do outside and in warm weather. How about a Zumba class or a Kickboxing class or an Indoor Bootcamp or TRX or Crossfit? What interests you? What have you ALWAYS wanted to try? Winter is perfect for that.
I like to be outside. I think fresh air is just good for the soul. So being inside is hard for me. So if I’m going to be inside – I’m going to be doing something I darn well enjoy. Some people enjoy the treadmill………hoo boy, I am not necessarily one of those people. Essentially I want to chew off my arm on the treadmill. This is my face on the treadmill:
So now we transition to – being outside in the winter. Yes – I exercise outside in the winter. Why? Because it’s beautiful. It’s different. It’s quiet. It’s heavenly. Truth. Really.
Is it cold? Well, a little at the beginning, but after you warm up it’s quite lovely. The outside temp FEELS about 10-15 degrees warmer once you get going. So, say that it's 35 degrees out - once you get going, it'll feel like 50. The key is dressing properly. So here are my suggestions for “What to Wear in Winter for Exercise”:
1) Start with a wicking base layer. A layer of bottoms and top and socks and mittens and hat – that take moisture away from your body. 2) Next cover with a warm, fleece layer. Some days – this will be all that you need. 3) But on the days that are windy and super cold, then add a wind resistant layer. 4) Your face – some people wear a balaclava. This is a balaclava: (This picture makes me laugh out loud because she's got no shirt on WITH her balaclava...)
Balaclavas make me claustrophobic. So on super cold days, I put a little Vaseline on my nose and cheeks. 5) Hands – Fleece mittens with wind resistant mittens on top (you can find them at Running Stores). 6) Feet – they make double layer socks (crazy cool) and they make wool running socks. Keep those toes and fingers warm! 7) Shoes – Some people recommend trail running shoes in the winter. I see that. I haven’t done it, but I see the appeal. Some people use YakTrax for traction. I use the ‘Goat Method’ – moving a little slower and enjoying the slower pace and being careful to watch for ice patches. If you happen to be driving down Summit or along the river and see this - it is me.
Other things to put in your brain as good guide – the 2x2x2 Plan. I just shared this with a friend of mine who was nervous about winter and losing fitness. 2x2x2 Plan: 2 x week cardio of 20-30 minutes 2 x week stretchy flexy work (yoga, stretching through your muscles top to bottom after a nice walk) 2 x week strength training
This is a reasonable maintenance plan to shoot for depending on where you are along your fitness path. And you can combine and mix and match them. A walk and some strength, a run and some stretching, a run to your yoga class…
Winter is also a time to give yourself the gift of ‘inside’ work. Not inside the gym, or inside the house work…inside your soul work. This could be the time where you make daily meditation (3-5 minutes to start) a regular practice while it snows and blows outside. Don't be intimidated - Just concentrate on your breath. Centering and gently releasing any monkey thoughts that skitter by. There are great guided meditations you can find online and here's a How To Meditate link.
Another thing to think about in the winter is this – enjoy your rest. You’ve been moving and grooving all spring/summer/fall. Enjoy winter for what it is. A time of cocooning and quieting and restoring and resting. Enjoy the quiet and the still. Appreciate the dark and the warmth and the slowing down that winter allows.
And…enjoy soup. Soup is one of the very best things about winter. :)
Peace to you and may you enjoy this leg of the wellness journey as much as any other. Sarah