The chillier months can be a challenging time to stay feeling great. But with a bit of preparation it’s entirely possible.
Now’s the time to set yourself up for that, and here are six suggestions to help.
One, make time to sift through your recipe collection and get a bundle of ideas together for cool weather meals. Without forethought we’re more likely default to eating habits that don’t serve us.
It’s a good chance to try something new. I’m keen to delve into Katrina Meynink’s book on slow cooking called Slow Victories. I’m guessing it’ll be quite different to what I’ve typically made this way.
It might be an obvious thing to say, but you don’t need to follow every recipe to the letter. For example, most older bodies need very little pasta, and just because your recipe includes it doesn’t mean you have to.
Two, beware of grazing your way through the cooler months. Stick to a meal structure that works for you, and if having certain snack foods around tempts you to eat too much, don’t bring them home. Older women commonly say they eat well but eat too much, and it’s a reality that with age we need smaller portions.
Three, remember that water is vital for a well-functioning body and you still need it in winter. You might find that watery fluids like tea or soup suffice but I know my gut works far better if I drink plain water.
Four, think about your vitamin D because it’s important for immunity. By now you hopefully know the pattern of your levels through the year. While it’s typically higher in summer because of the extra sun exposure, you might need a supplement in winter. But be guided by your test results.
Speaking of immunity, covid aside, last year taught us that we don’t get half as many respiratory bugs when we wash our hands, don’t touch our faces, wear a mask in busy public places and so on. It’s been easy to get complacent with these but the Victorian outbreak and the move into winter are reminders to get present to them again.
Five, make a point of getting the best sleep you can through the colder months, which could mean going to bed earlier.
And six, your exercise regime might also need a tweak. For example, you might want to swap early morning or late afternoon walks for a sunnier timeslot.
If you spend most days inside, a lunchtime walk is a great pick-me-up. If you’re going to be away from home during the day but want to squeeze in some activity, just pack your walking shoes.
Cooler weather can be a great time to explore new places to walk, such as botanical gardens, local parks, bush tracks, your nearest waterfront, or different parts of your city.
Of course, you can do other things outside — gardening, a few squats on your balcony, or a stretch on a park bench. There’s something incredibly feel-good about winter sunlight and crisp air.
If there are days when the weather keeps you inside you can still stretch, walk your stairs, practice your balance, and so on.
Depending on where you live, the darker, colder days can feel like a chore. If that’s the case create things to look forward to between now and spring: start a new project, join a class, or plan something you know you’ll enjoy.
Don’t make the common mistake of thinking that healthy behaviour is about denial, willpower and self-control. It’s not; it’s about developing habits that work for you and creating a supportive environment.
And while that takes some thought and preparation, staying healthy does take more effort the older we get. But it pays off in spades and at the same time teaches us to value ourselves more.
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