The holidays may have left behind more than just good memories: are
you carrying a few extra pounds as a memory of your holiday season,
haunting you like the Ghost of Christmas Past? Or are you struggling
to keep to get back to an exercise routine that took a hike during the
hectic holidays? Let’s face it, it is harder to stay motivated about
keeping yourself fit when the sun doesn’t rise until 7:30 a.m., the
sky is grey, and the temperature a frigid 20 degrees. You’d rather be
tucked up under a cozy comforter, not heading out for an early morning
run or trip to the gym. Sure, that sounds great on a sunny morning in
June, but right now it takes commitment!
There’s no doubt about it: It is more difficult to stay healthy and
fit through the winter months. How do you motivate yourself to eat a
healthy diet when you’d rather be sipping hot chocolate by the fire?
And what about those other components of health? Have you had a
physical in the past 12 months? What else should you be doing to
improve your health this winter? What anti-aging strategies could you
be finding out about? How can all the new high-tech equipment make
staying fit and healthy easier? How can you find some real calm and
peace of mind? Here are some tips for getting fit and staying fit
physically, mentally, and emotionally this winter:
Keep walking. Remember, walking in cold weather burns even more
calories than walking when the temperature is warm. You can burn up to
50 percent more calories by walking on a cold day than on a warm one.
But you do need to take some precautions if you are walking outdoors.
Do remember to go a little slower until you warm up and make sure that
you keep hydrated. Exercise can make you sweat even if the temperature
is below freezing.
If the weather is just too bad to walk outside, try a treadmill,
either in your home or at the gym. If yours is collecting dust in some
out-of-the-way corner of your home, try moving it into a part of the
house where you will use it, preferably an area used by other family
members and a television set (to keep you company). Or try one of the
local malls. Many malls have organized walking programs that you can
join, or bring a friend. It’s a lot more fun to exercise when you have
someone with you.
Try an indoor sport. Basketball, volleyball, swimming, and tennis are
a few of the sports that can be enjoyed throughout the year at a
variety of facilities in the area, from the local Ys to health clubs
and gyms. What better way to stay in shape and beat cabin fever than
with a regular sports night with friends. Just think how much better
shape you’ll be in when spring arrives!
Hydrate! The air is dryer during the winter months, so it’s just as
important to drink eight glasses of water a day as it is when you are
feeling hot and sweaty during the summer months. Indoor heating is
drying, also. Adding plants to your home and office is one simple way
to bring more moisture into the indoor atmosphere. Plants give off
moisture and oxygen, increasing the humidity of the air, and they can
brighten your mood on a grey, winter day, too.
The dryness in the air can also dry out your skin. Using a moisturizer
regularly is one quick and easy way to rehydrate your skin. But
instead of just slapping on a little lotion, why not think about a
trip to a local spa? A facial or a massage will not only improve your
skin tone and elasticity, it will relax and refresh your mind as well.
Massage for health. Massages don’t just make you feel good, they’re
good for your health, too, says Melissa Nelson, a massage therapist at
Pivotal Physical Therapy and Wellness in Monroe Township. She works
with rehabilitation clients as well as clients who come just for the
healthy benefits of a great massage. Nelson, who is a member of the
American Physical Therapy Association, has two techniques she
particularly recommends for winter. An aroma therapy wrap and hot
stone massage. "The aroma therapy wrap is excellent for hydrating dry
winter skin," says Nelson. First, she exfoliates the skin with a dry
brush, then uses moisturizing lotion during the massage, and finally
wraps the client in a thermal blanket for several minutes.
"A hot stone massage really feels great at this time of year. It helps
to heat up the muscle tissue and relax it," says Nelson. The hot stone
massage uses smooth basalt stones dipped in warm oil to massage the
tissue. It’s particularly good for people with arthritis, says
Johnson. Nelson can be reached at the Pivotal office at 609-683-4747.
Massage is not just for adults. Everyone can benefit from a massage,
says Darby Line, of Full Circle Family Massage. Massage is good for
people of all ages, from children to the elderly, and even infants and
pregnant women. "With the changes in the body during pregnancy,
massage can help to ease the joints and muscles, help with the back
aches and the swollen feet."
Line also works with mothers and fathers to teach them to massage
their infants. "Massage aids in digestion, helps infants sleep, and is
also an excellent way for parents to bond with their infants," she
says. To find out more about massage for the whole family, check the
website at www.fullcirclemassage.com.
Take care of your spirit. The dark winter days can stress us
emotionally as well as physically. That’s why Deborah Metzger, founder
and director of the Princeton Center for Yoga & Health offers a
variety of workshops and classes designed to relax the body and soothe
the spirit. "We have all levels of yoga from the most gentle to the
most intense," she says. A favorite class at this time of year is "Hot
Yoga," conducted in a room with the temperature set at about 100
degrees. "People either love it or hate it," says Metzger, who says
the heat and exercise are a great way to relax as well as detoxify the
At this time of year, when our first inclination is often to
hibernate, PCYH also offers a variety of classes designed to relieve
stress and relax. Drum Circles, Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction,
Oneness Blessings, yoga makeover courses, and concerts are just a few
of the workshops and courses offered at the center, located in
Skillman. For more information on classes, visit the center’s website
Get fit. Yes, you’ve said it for years, "I need to get more exercise."
Then you find all sorts of excuses not to. Have you ever told
yourself, "I always climb the stairs at work instead of taking the
elevator. That’s a lot of exercise." Or what about, "I just cleaned
the kitchen, that has to count for something!" The reality is that it
will take one and a half hours of stair climbing or three and a half
hours of housecleaning to burn off one six-ounce slice of cheesecake.
Do you really have that kind of time?
That’s one of the reasons that Curves fitness centers have been so
successful in the past few years. Curves specializes in helping women
fit a "reasonable workout regimen into today’s busy lifestyles," says
Sally Harrison of Curves of Pennington. "Staying fit is important to
so many aspects of health, such as combating diabetes, osteoporosis,
hypertension, and heart disease."
The Curves workout is designed so that women of all ages and fitness
levels can perform all five components of a complete fitness program
combining both strength and cardiovascular training. You can find out
more about the Curves program at www.curvespennington.com.
Try a personal trainer. The hardest part of a workout at the gym may
be just getting there. "You get the gym membership and you always say
that you are going to go on your lunch hour or after work, but somehow
it never happens, it just turns into another good intention," says
personal trainer Bill DeSimone. Working with a personal trainer makes
it much more likely you’ll actually get to your workout, he says, just
because you’ve made a special appointment. DeSimone works strictly
with individuals and small, pre-organized groups at his studio,
Optimal Exercise in Cranbury. Workouts are personalized for each
person’s level of ability, making a personal trainer a particularly
good choice for a person who is inexperienced. For more information on
personal training, check the Optimal Exercise website at
Eat healthy. Losing weight is number one on the top 10 of America’s
favorite New Year’s resolutions. So why is it that so many of us make
the same resolution, year after year, and seem to gain as many pounds
as we lose? Some nutritionists are now saying that the whole concept
of dieting is part of the problem.
Dieting involves deprivation: eating a minimum of calories, avoiding
foods that taste good while stoking up on delicious snacks of lettuce
and carrots. The concept of the diet is also something that we do for
a short period of time, a matter or a few weeks or months, before
returning to the all of the bad eating habits that made us overweight
in the first place.
So if we aren’t supposed to diet, what are we supposed to do?
Nutritionists suggest that the best way to lose the weight and keep it
off is to change our eating habits. Instead of living on an artificial
plan that includes only a few types of foods, learn to pick from a
wide range of healthy food choices.
Another secret to changing our eating habits is to find a support
group, whether you use one of the traditional organizations, find a
personal diet coach, or start your own informal group of friends, it
will be easier to stick to your new routine if you have other people
around you who understand how difficult changing your diet can be.
If you are still finding it difficult to get motivated to stay fit and
health this winter, try thinking ahead to the spring. A little work
now means you’ll be in much better shape once the warm weather