Summer is officially over in many parts of the world and the cooler weather is upon us. The days are getting shorter, the thermometer is dropping and our bodies are entering into what was, traditionally, a time of dormancy. Before the industrial revolution, we humans would spend the winter months in a state of quiescence – there was very little farming, hunting or gathering to be done so we’d slow down and conserve our fat stores. These days, our bodies are still programmed to a certain amount of inaction during the colder months but, unlike the past, we now have plenty of fatty and processed foods to snack on during that time.
Here are some tips to help you avoid a lot of unhealthy snacking and remain well and active as winter rolls in.
#1. Avoid Drinking More Coffee
With cooler temperatures comes the desire to drink hot drinks and the most prevalent, especially in the Western world, is coffee. However comforting that cup of Joe is on a cool day, however, one must remember the harmful effects of caffeine. There is a proven relationship between caffeine and weight gain. Continuous consumption of it leads to prolonged levels of cortisol in the bloodstream, which has a negative effect on metabolism, blood sugar levels and blood pressure. Instead of drinking more coffee, consider other hot drink alternatives such as a detoxifying and energizing morning ginger tea.
#2. Avoid More Alcohol
As we enter months where the nights are longer, we as a species are driven to socialize more in the evenings. And in our modern world, that typically means there is more alcohol on offer. We at Mountain Trek are not abolitionists by any stretch but we think it’s important to stress alcohol’s relationship to weight gain. All alcohol has calories (even the ones marketed as being free of carbs) and so by consuming more, you’re adding to your fat stores. In the case of alcohol this is doubly taxing because it stresses your liver and impairs its ability to flush toxins. Imbibe in the occasional drink but considering capping of the evening with a nightcap of #3.
#3. Drink More Water
Last year we wrote a post about water versus soda pop and one of the most interesting facts about lack of water was that it is the number one trigger of daytime fatigue. As we enter the longer, colder months, our bodies tend to want to slow down and lethargy is more prevalent – drinking a few glasses of water easily rectifies that. Plus it helps you flush toxins and curb hunger pangs.
#4. Get a Good Nights Sleep
As the night’s get longer our bodies respond by desiring a bit more shut-eye. Although our bodies require between seven and nine hours of sleep a night, there are many sleep problems that are preventing some of us from getting that. The good news is there are easy things you can do to ensure a good night’s rest. In this post we list seven tricks but the most important is to make your bedroom a work-free and gadget-free zone. Leave all electronic devices outside the bedroom and enjoy some shut-eye unhampered by bells, lights and agendas.
#5. Go For a Soak
This one is easy, especially as the colder months set in: find yourself a bathtub, hot tub or hot spring and just lie there. That’s it. There are many therapeutic benefits to a good soak but the main one is relaxation; the power of de-stressing is not to be underestimated, especially because balanced hormones lead to balanced health.
#6. Get Massaged
As with #5, this one isn’t that difficult either. There are reasons most cultures on earth have offered some form of massage for thousands of years: not only is it relaxing, it’s also good for your health. In fact, an evening massage is one of the best ways to relax after the day’s activities. It will help prepare you for a restful night’s sleep.
#7. Enlist the Help of a Friend
In another blog post we listed seven reasons why you should work out with a friend and these apply that much more in the cooler months when it’s easy for us to justify sitting in front of the TV under a blanket instead of getting up and moving. A friend will help keep you accountable but will also make fitness that much more fun.
#8. Exercise – Even Just a Little
It goes without saying that we here at Mountain Trek are big fans of exercise, no matter what time of year it is. We also appreciate, however, that when the cooler weather sets in, it can be harder to get motivated. That’s why we’ve compiled some tips to help beat sedentarism some of which are as easy as doing stretches in your office doorway. Remember, though, that to keep your metabolism up and your weight down, your body has to move for at least 40 minutes a day, even if it’s just a brisk walk around the block.
#9. Show Yourself Some Love
There are many ways to pamper yourself but the best is to do something you enjoy. It seems like such a simple thing and yet many of us work so hard, by the end of the day we only have energy to sit in front of the TV. Take time in the coming months to do something that recharges your batteries: read a good book by the fire, indulge in a hobby or attend a class. You’ll find you’ll be happier and have more energy to face the cooler weather and shorter days.
#10. Book a Stay with Mountain Trek
The best way to pamper yourself is to dedicate a vacation to you and your health. Join us at Rancho La Puerta in the beautiful Baja in November or February to revel in the sunshine. Or come out for a fun-filled time of winter activity at our gorgeous lodge in British Columbia where you’ll enjoy the pristine snowy environment and hang out with like-minded friends by the fire, in the natural hot springs or in our new spa.
How to Top up on Vitamin D Now That the Days are Shorter
Now that the days are getting shorter, are you feeling a little low on energy? Could be that you’ve come to your ‘D-day’, a time in the year when Vitamin D gets scarcer. But the good news is it’s easy to top up with some delicious nutrient-rich foods and, of course, a visit to sunny Rancho La Puerta in the Baja with Mountain Trek!
In addition to being absolutely necessary for bone growth and repair, Vitamin D also aids calcium absorption in the gut, is responsible for the modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune system function, and reduction of inflammation. It also helps with depression prevention! There’s no question this Vitamin’s role is crucial to our body’s functioning health and there are two natural ways to get it: by the sun’s UV rays, and through our diet. Yet, in the months when the days get shorter, the sun is low in the sky and usually cloud covered and most of us aren’t getting enough of the sunshine vitamin. By the time spring rolls around, many of us are Vitamin D deficient. To help us stay topped up on this important player in the body’s functioning health, we’ve taken a look at two solutions: a sunny, healthy vacation and eating foods rich is this necessary nutrient.
Where Do I get my Vitamin D?
When UV rays from sunlight touch the skin, this triggers Vitamin D synthesis. But when sun exposure is at a minimum during the winter months, we can turn to diet to help with our vitamin D intake. Unfortunately, very few foods are high in Vitamin D naturally, and so it is not possible to get all the Vitamin D you need from diet alone. In conjunction with a high quality multi-vitamin, here are some of the best food sources of Vitamin D:
Fatty fish: So very nutritious for you for so many reasons, fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines, and even seafood such as oysters, contain some of the highest concentrations of Vitamin D in food.
Eggs: Not only high in protein and so many other nutrients (Vitamin B12), the sunshine yellow of egg yolks do contain a hearty helping of Vitamin D.
Beef liver: Not everyone’s favorite, but when mom said ‘eat up!’ to those liver and onions, she knew what she was talking about as far as Vitamin D’s concerned.
Mushrooms: Certain varieties of mushrooms, like white button, can provide Vitamin D among other nutrients (Vitamin B5) when lightly cooked.
Many foods are fortified with Vitamin D for the simple reason that we don’t get enough in our diet, or in general. Almost all milk (and baby formula) in the U.S. and Canada is fortified with Vitamin D as are some orange juices, soy products and cereals. But please use caution and check labels, as many of these products can contain refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, and other undesirables.
What About Sunny Vacations?
Who doesn’t enjoy a relaxing trip to a more sunny clime during the cooler fall and winter months? It’s important, though, to moderate your solar intake while on vacation. So many of us rush to the beach and neglect proper sun care in the quest for the perfect tan. This is definitely more harmful than not having any sun at all. Instead, stay out of the sun when it’s at its peak or cover up with loose-fitting, SPF-rated clothing, hat and sunglasses. In fact, the best way to monitor your sun intake while staying healthy is to join Mountain Trek on a retreat to the beautiful Rancho La Puerta property in Baja, Mexico, just a one-hour drive south of San Diego. Our guides will help you take care of your sunscreen needs while keeping you physically active outdoors. It’s the perfect way to get both a Vitamin D infusion and a health reboot at the same time. If a sun-filled, exercise-fueled vacation in the Baja sounds like something you’d be interested in, be sure to contact us soon as both the November and February spots are filling up!
Featured Cool Weather Recipe