Ah, winter. First the days get shorter, then the holiday season sets a fast pace of shoveling treats into our mouths, and pretty soon we’re consuming twice as much while moving half as often. Here are a few realistic suggestions for fighting off the blah without going crazy.
- Go easy on the cream. Dairy can provide some of the most desirable comfort foods around this time of year, but it can also weigh you down and zap your energy. A big hot chocolate from Starbucks clocks in at around 450 calories-- that’s a whole meal’s worth, all in one drink! Sometimes it’s definitely worth the splurge, but if you’re looking for a secret alternative, you could instead have all the hot tea you want (zilch calories if you take it unsweetened or with artificial sweetener, around 15 calories with a teaspoon of sugar) and a hefty chunk of good dark chocolate. There’s 180 calories in a whole bar of Hershey’s Special Dark, but it’s so rich that you may only need half that to get your chocolate fix. Plus, the warm liquid combines with the chocolate to still give you that melty-awesome-deliciousness, but without the stomachache to follow.
- Don’t neglect your water bottle. Even when you’re nowhere near the sun, your body still gets thirsty. It’s important to push water through your system year-round—it helps you better judge your level of hunger, it helps ward off common winter sicknesses, and it occupies your hands and mouth so you’re less likely to succumb to boredom-binging. Keep a jug in the pocket of your backpack, take frequent pauses in front of water fountains, and take a shot of aqua first thing when you get home in the evening.
- Make little substitutions. Instead of chugging 12 ounces of orange juice in the morning, have half a glass of OJ and a full glass of water. If you’re in no one’s way, walk up the escalator instead of lazing against the rail. Walk around the mall even when browsing Amazon is faster. These tiny sacrifices are barely noticeable throughout your day, but they can add up to have a big effect on how your belt fits come March.
- Stop making breakfast your enemy. I know that it’s annoying to hear how important breakfast is when you’re the one having to get out the door every day at 6am. But the simple facts remain: those who eat breakfast are far more likely to be fit than those who don’t. Eating a morning meal helps your body wake up and starts your metabolism for the rest of the day. And above all, you simply CANNOT forgo breakfast in the hopes of “saving the calories for later” because it just doesn’t work that way. If you don’t have time for blueberry pancakes or fancy omelets before the sunrise, fill up a plastic baggy with raw almonds, granola and dried fruit, and throw it down on the bus with a carton of milk. So quit your whining and stop dreading the five-minute practice that’ll make you feel awesome, anyway!
- Don’t turn into the Abominable Sweatpants Yeti. No, you don’t need to primp like you’re going to prom on the days when it’s a challenge just to get dressed, but you only do yourself harm if you let yourself completely hibernate. When we look frumpy, we feel frumpy. When we feel frumpy, we eat frumpy. Do something nice to your hair on Wednesdays, or wear one piece of jewelry no matter how you feel. Shove your legs into actual jeans more often than not. Don’t obsess about a beauty routine when you’re tired, but don’t treat yourself like you’re not hot!
While I can only address one question a week, keep in mind that every comment is read and considered, and an answer to your question might pop up at any time. If you’re seeking advice, leave your topic suggestion on this post. Also, if you have anything to add (agreeing or disagreeing with my advice!) or personal stories to share with the writer of today’s question, I encourage you to leave a comment. Be good to each other, be good to yourself, and be a presence!