Winter Health Strategies

Winning Winter Health Strategies

Cold temperatures, stress, and shorter days can cause us to fall out of our healthy habits and even lead to the winter blues. We asked some of our Personal Trainers for advice on winter health strategies.

Food and fueling

Stress-induced overeating is a major cause of weight gain and most chronic diseases. This has to do with the type and amount of food we eat as well as the way your body responds to the stress.  When our bodies are under stress they consequently release hormones that stimulate our appetite and set off cravings. It’s not uncommon to turn to “comfort” foods. Consider experimenting with healthier options that are warm and/or satisfying. For example, a bowl of oatmeal boosts levels of serotonin, a brain-calming chemical. Balance any carbohydrates with a lean or low-fat protein or healthy fat to get lasting energy for the next few hours.

Stock-up on some of these soothing alternatives and keep them easily accessible:

• Soup made with legumes and vegetables
• Warm decaf beverages, including herbal teas, with a home-made trail mix of whole grain cereal, dried fruit, and peanuts
• Hot Cocoa, made with low-fat milk and served with a handful of pecan halves and a Clementine
• Creamy redu­ced-fat pudding with a sprinkle of berries and slivered almonds            
• Warmed oats, quinoa, or brown rice with a spoonful of low-fat Greek yogurt and a sprinkle of chopped walnuts and fruit
“While savoring one of these treats, sit and take a few deep belly breaths until you feel your breath slow, your shoulders drop, and tension in your face and jaw release.” Kris Bonham

Eat breakfast every day.

“Eating breakfast boosts the metabolism and therefore more calories are burned during the day. Eating breakfast also improves mental performance, concentration, and mood.” Gina Ostarly

Stay Hydrated.

“Drink eight ounces of water first thing after waking up.” Teresa Harris

“Drinking throughout the day boosts metabolism and energy. A water-filled stomach also regulates appetite. Feeling run-down in the afternoon? The most common cause is dehydration. Staying hydrated can also prevent or eliminate headaches. Many health experts agree a rule of thumb on quantity is to drink half your body’s weight in ounces of water daily.” Gina Ostarly  

Keep a food journal. “This can be your biggest accountability tool when it comes to how much you actually eat. You’ll be less likely to splurge when you write everything down.” Gina Ostarly


Mental maneuvers

“Set goals— for example tell yourself that you are going to go to X number of classes this week, but don’t stop there. Go to the calendar and select specific classes to attend. This gives you something to look forward to throughout the week.” – Amber Herman

Be social.

“Talk to people. It helps to speak to someone you don’t know. Just simply saying “Hi, how are you” and shortly conversing with someone can change your mood as a result.” – Amber Herman

“Do one kind gesture- write a note to a friend, pick up trash in public area, smile at a stranger, or compliment someone.”- Teresa Harris

Schedule ‘You’ Time.

“Write in a journal for five minutes, anything you want: a to-do list, your thoughts, plans for the day, meal prep ideas, a doodle drawing, how you’re feeling. Take five minutes to practice breath, meditation, unplug, nap, listen to music, or just sit out in fresh air. Read ten minutes of a book.” Teresa Harris

Get some zzz’s!

“Get enough sleep. Set a regular bed time and try to stick to it as close as you can.” Carolyn Hope 


Practical Fitness Plans

“Another way to fight the winter blues is to take a walk every day at mid-day. The fresh air and sunshine will invigorate you, and the walk will get your heart and lungs pumping!” – Julia Lapan

“Incorporating a 30-minute walk into your daily activity improves mood and sleep. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, or choose a far-away parking spot.” – Gina Ostarly

Switch up your routine. If you’re a runner, try swimming. If you like the elliptical, try the stair master. Ask for new workout gear for Christmas. There’s nothing like new running shoes or workout clothes to get you motivated! You can also commit to a group exercise class. Working out with others fosters new friendships and keeps everyone motivated. GO TEAM!” – Tyler Herman

“Try a short work out- even 10 minutes is better than no workout. Play a game in place of a workout, or walk your dog. Focus on something specific for a week such as technique, then balance.” – Carolyn Hope

Don’t go it alone, and get creative! Gather your family, friends co-workers and set days and times to workout. Be careful to not do the same things that you usually do though.  Nominate a different workout leader for every workout to plan and lead the workout.  This way, it will not fall on one person all the time to do the research and coordination of the group.  As always, you can join a fitness class or consult a personal trainer for advice.” – Jared Rohrer

Visit the acac location page closest to you for upcoming programs and events!

Germantown, MD | Hunt Valley, MD | Timonium, MDEagleview, PA | West Chester, PA | Charlottesville, VAMidlothian, VA | Short Pump, VA