I’m going to reveal a professional secret.
For all the years I’ve been coaching women in health and fitness, I have always dreaded the New Year’s Resolution craze.
When I owned fitness centers it was the worst! We would be crazy busy for 30 days. We would gear up, staff up and then it was over …. like someone let the air out of a balloon.
I don’t know about you but I’m glad the January rush to make a resolution is behind us. Now I can settle in, get cozy and do the things I need to do to keep the blues away.
This is the time of year that I struggle a bit with seasonal affective disorder. It’s darker earlier and I spend less time out doors in the sun. Hence, I tend to be a little moodier, more tired and just not as…perky.
That being the case, I thought I would share a few things I do to keep my spirits up and beat the wintertime blues.
I get more sleep.
This is the time of year when my body naturally wants to sleep more. The days are shorter and there’s less light. I give in to it. I strive to get eight hours of sleep each night. Try it, you’ll be amazed at all the ways your body will thank you and you might lose some weight at the same time.
Here’s how the weight loss thing works.
Have you ever had an extremely BAD night’s sleep only to wake up the next day feeling exceedingly hungry throughout the day?
It’s because when we sleep our body makes leptin and ghrelin. These are two hormones that get thrown out of whack when we don’t get enough sleep.
During sleep, leptin levels increase. Leptin tells our brain we have plenty of energy and there’s no need to trigger the feeling of hunger. When we don’t get enough sleep, we end up with too little leptin and our brain thinks it doesn’t have enough energy, so it tells us we are hungry.
Ghrelin is basically the exact opposite of leptin. It tells our brain when we need to eat, when it should stop burning calories and when it should store energy as fat. During sleep, levels of ghrelin decrease, because sleep requires far less energy than being awake. When we don’t get enough sleep, we end up with too much ghrelin in our system, so our body thinks it’s hungry and it needs more calories, and it stops burning those calories because it thinks there’s a shortage.
So, you’re not just imagining things when you don’t get enough sleep and feel hungry all day. I say, get cozy. Eat dinner earlier, go to bed earlier and get a solid 8-hours of sleep. It can make the difference between an energy-filled day and a cranky, hungry dreary day (and maybe help with weight loss).
I drink more water.
When we spend more time indoors where the air is dry, we need more water. If you have plants in your house, you are probably watering them a little more because of the dry heat. The same thing applies to our body.
Being mildly dehydrated can lead to feeling tired, run down, and can create brain fog. A little like your plants looking droopy. Staying hydrated helps us stay energized and healthy; plus, it keeps us from over-eating when our body is just thirsty.
Water is critical to keeping our body functioning at its highest level. So, aim for at least 64 ounces a day. You’ll be amazed how much better you’ll feel.
I focus on eating quality food and making one or two little changes.
Rather than trying some crazy restrictive diet, I choose to add in something healthier and crowd out the not so healthy. Eating quality food and getting the right nutrients is a tremendous contributor to feeling happy (and losing weight).
Here are some ways to crowd out the not so healthy and add in the healthy:
- Crowd out soda (both diet and regular) with herb tea.
- Instead of picking something up at a local coffee shop or drive thru, add in a quality breakfast. (Did you download the breakfast recipes? Click here if you would like a copy of my make ahead breakfast recipes.)
- Crowd out junk foods with additives and preservatives by adding in whole foods.
- Crowd out processed carbohydrates like bagels, bread and rolls by adding in whole grains and whole food carbohydrates like potatoes, brown rice and beans.
- Add in enough complete protein at each meal, including brain-healthy omega 3 fats found in fatty fish and ground flax seeds by crowding out too many processed carbohydrates like pasta, white rice and cereals.
- Here’s another idea…when you eat at home, add in sitting down to a nicely set table and crowd out the electronic devices with some lovely candles. You’ll digest your food better and the calming effect of candlelight is a simple tool to help reduce the stress of the day.
The first step toward improving your mood is always food. Just a few simple tweaks could dramatically improve your mood. By eating a diverse, whole foods diet full of healthy protein, whole food carbohydrates, vegetables and fruit, you will notice significant changes in your mood.
These are just a few of the things I do to keep the blues away. I would love to hear from you. What are some of the things you do to keep your spirits up and beat the winter-time blues? Please share.
That’s it for today.