When Your Winter Body Didn’t Get the Memo: How to Kickstart That Summer Confidence into High Gear

Let me start by saying congratulations, you made it through the Winter in the middle of a Pandemic. Winter months in Canada are already tough if you live in any Province with the exception of British Columbia. As if the frigid blustery winds and hazardous icy roads aren’t enough to keep you home, the government Covid-19 lock downs reinforced that. Then if we weren’t already up against enough with the isolation, our bodies took a further beating as we still indulged in a series of holiday meals. In Alberta, gyms and recreational facilities were closed for almost 2 1/2 months which would be the nail on my coffin for myself, as my weight ballooned upwards rapidly. Seeing as this was my first winter in a pandemic, I admittedly was not prepared to cope in the best way, but I should be thankful that the worst that happened to me was a doughy belly and a double chin. I’m blaming my inability to adapt accordingly and find alternative ways to motivate and prioritize better nutrition and exercise.

Home work outs have never been my thing, but as I’ve come to find out, sometimes we need to force ourselves out of the familiar. It takes some time, especially if your stubborn like myself who gets discouraged easily when I lack the presence of reinforcing elements. One of those elements is having an active presence in the outside world, where our interactions can often validate the hard work we are putting into our personal fitness and appearance. My interactions have been mostly with clients who are for the most part strangers and have an already pre-existing sense of loathing towards me as child welfare worker. I’ve also admittedly been using my mask to hide my fuller chipmunk cheeks. So with less social outings happening under the current circumstances I feel it is more important than ever to authentically find validation from within ourselves, namely Confidence.

Transitioning to a place of practicing personal validation through other means is no simple feat. I imagine this could be a lot harder for my generation as we are far more cognizant of the differences between what is sincere interaction and the superficial world of likes and followers. I would never typically support the idea of subscribing to the practice of validation through selfies and half naked thirst trap photos, but a fluffy blonde like me even has her breaking point. If I hadn’t become totally bored through the first wave of my social media feeds I may have just likely began an OnlyFans for some compliments now and again. But for the most the most part, many of us adults aspire to channel our energy and attention to a small few so that to not distract us from our goals and responsibilities that absorb much of our time. The majority of my network uses social media platforms mostly to post pictures of their animals, new furniture, DIY projects or children. Which leaves me with the conclusion we need to work even harder to tap into that self love and confidence at all costs, and here’s my How To Guide to get yours rolling!

1. Get Your Butt Outside

You don’t need to be the outdoorsy type or the adventurous weekend warrior-while these for many seem to be perfect opportunities for Social Media Content. The art of being outside doesn’t actually always have to be about gruelling hikes up mountains or even overtly physical at all. This time of year always offers up ways to draw you outdoors whether its doing yard clean up, gardening/planting, washing your car at home, or enjoying the dog park which by the way you don’t need to have one to still enjoy those playful paws. Take a book on a lunch break and have a coffee on an outdoor patio, or simply just people watch. Exchange smiles with new faces you pass by while you take in a new neighborhood stroll, popping in and out of local shops. How about dusting off the ol’ cruiser bike and taking it somewhere scenic outside your neighborhood, or organize a squad bike beer tour through downtown? You can even cook all your meals outside by BBQing as much as possible. There is movement and social interaction happening in all of these options that are sure to get your that much needed vitamin D and Dopamine back into that ailing spirit of yours.

2. Make your Meals Colorful

Spring and Summer months invite a broader range of delicious produce options, and there is a need to support our local farmers and markets even more than ever. According to the Hello Fresh Blog, our brains respond to light energy, aka color, by stimulating the pituitary and pineal glands. These endocrine glands regulate hormones like serotonin, which is responsible for making us feel happy. Research has shown that different colors also affect blood pressure, pulse, and respiration rates as well as brain activity and sleep/wake cycles. These color triggers set the mood for us to feel more energetic, happy, and relaxed and are strong enough to even have an effect on people who are blind!

Additionally it is mentioned that we are also influenced by the visual cue of color when it comes to our perception of how something will taste. Colorful food can influence our brain to create an expectation that specific colors will taste a certain way. For example, the more vibrantly colored a food is, the more intense we expect its flavor to be.

If you are even somewhat of a meal planner, aim to prepare meals that have at least 5 or more colors in them. Whether it be a pasta salad that is loaded with spinach, red onion, cherry tomatoes, orange peppers and Hemp Seed- the challenge of not duplicating color can offer a variety of nutritional benefits that boost your energy as well as fill you up with all the good stuff!

3. Dance to your Favorite music

I know I can’t speak for all, but as a result of my vegetative state along with the extra pounds I’ve packed on; movement can feel sometimes painful or uncomfortable. My joints and body need some time to recuperate and I can quickly become fed up if I take on something too rigorous. Additionally when the body hasn’t done any kind of significant exercise its not uncommon for you to experience muscle tightness and soreness that can also prevent you from being active the next day. Consistency is key when developing a habit, and getting active again can be admittedly hard enough without being reminded how out of shape you’ve allowed yourself to become. So start with movements that don’t feel like work, and help to loosen those hips and shoulders. Throw on a belly dancing tutorial, or flail around like I do to some House Anthems like its 2005 again. Many fitness apps offer short dance movement classes that are easy and fun to follow. If you are an Albertan like myself maybe you need to brush up on your line dancing and prepare yourself for Calgary Stampede festivities we have been missing.

For Classes Check out the Peleton App

History of Country Line Dancing That You Probably Didn't know - Dance Poise

4. Ditch the Scale

Just like our beloved Aaliyah sang how “Age Aint Nuthin But a Number”- so is your weight. Because just like age, you are as old as you feel and same goes for your weight. Our bodies listen to our negative self talk and also revolt when we put it under too much stress. Stress can significantly impact your ability to maintain a healthy weight. It can also prevent you from losing weight. Whether it’s the result of high levels of the stress hormone cortisol, unhealthy stress-induced behaviors, or a combination of the two, the link between stress and weight gain is glaring. Hovering over numbers on a digital scale completely derails and undermines the idea of being good to your body. Numbers on a scale can never reflect the fun we experience and sense of achievement when doing our bodies good. If you are not convinced then perhaps use how your clothes fit as a means of measurement, but whatever you do stay off the digital confidence killer.

Get off the scale!

Or consider an alternative like the Shapa Scale that keeps the positive elements of the scale while removing the negative ones. This unique system gives you feedback about your weight, but not in pounds.

Instead of sharing a number that provides little to no insight, Shapa gives you useful feedback through a more meaningful 5-point color system.

Blue = losing weight
Teal = starting to lose weight
Green = maintaining your weight
Light Gray = starting to gain weight
Dark Gray = gaining weight

Shapa looks at your trend over the past few days compared to the past few weeks to determine your color and lets you know if the changes you’ve been making recently are getting you closer to, or farther from, your goal.

5. Wear The Bathing SUit

There is no prep involved here. If its cute, wear it. If its a bikini, wear it. Then finish it off with some Sexy Sunnies to block the haters.

Plus Size Bikini Images, Stock Photos & Vectors | Shutterstock

6. Don’t forget your Vitamins

Focus Supplements and Vitamins for ADHD: Zinc, Iron, Magnesium

I have a tendency to learn things the hard way, just like when I failed to get regular oil changes on my BMW. I came to find out after a very expensive lesson that things can’t run optimally without the combination of chemically engineered elements. Turns out our bodies are the same and can pay the price if we don’t fuel it properly with the nurtients and minerals it needs. Vitamins that support weightloss such as Vitamin B, Magnesium, Vitamin D, Iron, and Green Tea Extract all have vast benefits. Vitamins and Herbs that support energy are Vitamins B12, CoQ10, Rhodiola, Citrulline and Beetroot powder also compliment the need to fuel an increase in activity and movement.

My Winter Action Plan: A List of 9 Anti Seasonal Affective Disorder Tips You Can Try

Having lived in Alberta for the last 13 years I’ve had my fair share of symptoms related to Seasonal Affective Disorder Its acronym “S.A.D”- How very appropriate. I’d also like to add a new term to the list as well. The Seasonally Angered Disorder, because when its “Minus Death” outside, you literally cannot help but be pissed off with everything that makes you have to leave the warmth of your home or car.

For myself this yearly festivity of misery is compounded with a stressful job which is a sure recipe for a total unravelling of sorts. So when I tell you the first thing I do when the snow hits the ground is devise a Winter Blues Action Plan– because who has the time to come unraveled. Unless your Britney Spears who can shave her entire head and then go on to secure a Vegas Show and stay comfortably supported in a mansion in the hills. Not all of us can afford to be rich and crazy.

Love you Brit Brit.

For the rest of us peasants, life goes on with screaming children, Covid outbreak school closures, lost income, and no sign in sight of reprieve. To boot, Christmas is around the corner, work is piling up and life just isn’t very sympathetic to our ailing spirits. We can either hide in our closets in the fetal position or attempt to curb perhaps the inevitable. And if you are curled up in the fetal position as we speak, its all good, wipe those tears and consider making a list like this for yourself tomorrow.

So this year my Winter Action Plan needed to be tweaked, as I realized spending it cozied up alongside hundreds of warm bodies at a pub was not going to be happening during a pandemic. I can’t say I’ll miss standing freezing my ass off in the lines outside of National or any popular watering hole here In Calgary. However I do feel like I will need to compensate for my 100 meter dash to the car I often counted on to burn those extra 15 calories off, of the 8000 I consumed in Beer.

But maybe that’s it! There could be a silver lining?

So here is my Winter S.A.D. Action Plan!

  1. Less Liquor– Consider this your year to opt out of those unnecessary holiday Christmas party benders. Rather than look at how you may miss the parties and gathering, look at what you may be gaining from not consuming all the added calories. Now if you are a responsible drinker, you know the kind that can stop at 2 then your probably thinking this doesn’t apply to you. I’m the type I’m sure my doctor would classify as the “binge” drinker. It sounds horrible just like in the same way our BMI index states we are morbidly obese when we thought we weren’t one croissant away from my 600 lb. life. I don’t drink during the week at my home, or weekly to be honest with you, but when I do, it’s a bottle of two a wine, maybe some shots, and always doubles. So this winter is my opportunity to not only give my liver a good break, but also an ability to steer away from all the calories those binges bring to the waistline.

What Happens To Your Body When You Stop Drinking

2. Since I’m saving money from not drinking the pubs and restaurant dry- I have some additional extra cash flow to buy a new snowboard and hit the slopes more. Yes, the cold will still make me angry, but being out in the sunshine freezing is better than skulking in the darkness and not soaking up the Vitamin D needed for mood and immune system! You see sending more time outdoors doing fun activities will decrease the likelihood of getting sick as well due to not being around a bunch of coughing, sneezing, germ infestations. Snowboarding is something that I have loved to do all my life, and I’m lucky to be so close to so many mountains.

3. Schedule in the gym/classes As in make it a 5 day a week priority. Slotting my gym time into my Day/Timer a week at a time is helpful because that way I can schedule less important things around it. I find its helpful right now too that I have to book my gym appointments through the YMCA which is having some positive effects on my accountability and am mindful about attending those set gym appointment times.

4. Getting out for Daily Walks and Coupling it with a Good Podcast– Since I have become a fur mama to a very Active American Akita, it has become apparent we are both happier after a good long walk. I’m happier because she is less likely to act like a little asshole, and in turn I’m able to take in some knowledge and new learning while she inspects every tree and leaf along the way. Not only am I getting in more daily steps, burning some calories, but getting some much needed fresh air that leaves me less energy to worry about any kind of looming anxiety coursing through my veins.

5. Working on Something Productive in my Spare time that brings me joy. So in my case I love to write my blog, focusing on building an audience, and developing more ideas to add to it. It keeps my mind occupied and bustling with ideas where I can stay connected with the outside world. The blog world has been a major learning curve for me as not only is my writing still a skill I’m growing but perhaps a business at some stage in the future. I have also enjoyed crafting more and more which is something I had previously turned my nose up too. The ability to create has the ability to redirect nervous energy into something that soothes and calms some of the dark sad thoughts that can creep up as a result of the winter isolation.

Halloween Wreath Projects

6. Get Cooking Again-I used to really love to cook, but over the last 6 months I have been on some crazy diets that have literally taken the fun out of cooking. Meal Preps can often take the fun out of eating as certain diets can be restrictive as well as daunting when you factor in the grocery lists and ingredients needed to make something that only you are interested in eating. And to be perfectly honest after all these “diets” I am no different weight than I was these last 10 years. It always comes back and I’m left feeling ashamed. So I say F*** that this Winter. I’m taking it back to the old school where Avocado Oil wasn’t a thing, and I wasn’t logging my Macros.  With that being said, I don’t intend on nourishing my body either with garbage. According to Meghan Sedivy, RD, dietitian for Fresh Thyme Farmers Market in Plainfield, Illinois, says the winter months are a good time for root vegetables — think beets, potatoes, and rutabagas — as well as citrus fruits, such as blood oranges, white grapefruit, and autumn honey tangerines. Root vegetables are high in potassium, while citrus fruits offer fiber and vitamin C to help boost immunity, which is especially clutch this time of year, Sedivy says. Root vegetables are easy to incorporate in soups and stews, helping boost your vegetable intake for the day.

7. Meditation-I’ve admittedly been slacking on this. However meditation is something I began at the start of the Pandemic and utilized it to come to terms with the feelings of powerlessness, loneliness, grief and loss I was experiencing at that time. I went from scuttle bug to sad dormant half dead beetle when we went into lockdown-I was desperate, bored, and bummed out so I turned to meditation skeptically. I couldn’t believe though how well my spirit, mind and body responded to it. I’ve since migrated my interests into the world of Crystals and Rocks-where sometimes faith can blossom hope, and hope turns into actualizing outcomes.

8. Taking Vitamins– Like not just vitamin C that comes with your Sunday Mimosa’s. But the kind that are tailored to your specific needs and desired status of health you feel you need to attain. You can simply order pre-packaged daily vitamins packs that will meet your every need. They make it so easy and it’s a 5 second gulp which can make or break the Winter blues. There are lots of site but ensure you go with a quality and reputable company like VTMN Packs.

9. Reach out more to friends who I enjoy spending time with, and making sure I stay open and honest about how I am feeling. As the saying goes its okay to not be okay.

Whether these are things you are already doing or perhaps this list looks daunting to you, I encourage you to tailor one for the coming months that is realistic for you. And be kind, to yourself, you are up against the winter elements that wreak havoc on our hormone levels. The brain produces less serotonin without sunlight, which can cause depression, and less sunlight can also increase melatonin, which can heighten feelings of sleepiness.”

So its not you, it’s the season. Might as well make it your bitch!