Transition yourself into the colder months to boost your health and happiness.October is here, and with it, the morning chill. Yum.
Most of us from Tucson love the welcoming coolness that comes with this time, especially after a long summer. In addition to the temperature adjustment, a whole host of modifications come with the change in seasons.
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Being the parent of school-age children, fall break gives my wife and I time to come up for air after eight weeks of homework, practices, games and parent-teacher conferences. As I walk my dog around the neighborhood, I'm beginning to see decorations for Halloween, which means future parties, costumes and candy.
The holiday season has begun. How did it get here so fast? I don't know if I'm ready for it. If we aren't careful, any positive efforts we've made to improve or maintain our health may go by the wayside in a heartbeat.
Last month I offered a list of supplements to arm your medicine cabinet to boost digestion, mood and overall health as you face the winter months. Let me talk now about what to do to live optimally during this season.
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As the energy of the year winds down into a time of cold, slowness and hibernation, we are all expected to celebrate even though our bodies are going in the opposite direction. Think of what you're doing as winterizing your home or car. This is a time to prepare your body, mind and spirit for the seasonal slow-down that is on its way.
Eat right: There's a reason we crave hearty dishes during this time. In the past, we built up a layer of protective fat to shelter us during lean times when food was scarce. Not so much these days. Instead of feeling guilty for wanting to eat soups, stews, chili, roasted meats and veggies, my recommendation would be to eat all of that and avoid the food-like substances we are exposed to during this time. Give yourself a day for Halloween and then throw the candy out. Same goes for the party food-switch out chips and mini hot dogs for homemade split pea soup or seven-bean chili with bison. Fill up on veggies before you go out and then splurge on meat and cheese without binging on low-quality starches and sweets. Have fun, but be smart.
Move Outside: It's easier to do this in Arizona, as the weather here stays much less intense. Having said that, my kids get into great shape with football, gymnastics and horseback riding. There is no reason not to stay that way as well. I love hiking outside, as nature really calls to me during fall. Whether it's getting into the mountains, hitting the hiking trails or taking the kids to the apple orchard and pumpkin patch, playing outside allows me to stay active and appreciate the changing world. Remember, there is nothing you can't do with the right gear and clothing.
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Spend Quality Time With Good People: This can be a great social time for some and an overwhelmingly difficult one for others. Before holiday commitments take over, make a priority to put time in your calendar to spend with people who matter most in your life, not just those folks you're forced to be with. Maximize moments that are more laid back and less pressured, maybe paired with an outdoor activity, such as a picnic at a park or potluck feast after a hike. If you schedule it now, you can say "no" to those commitments you don't really want to make later on.
Rest: This really is a time to enjoy the energetic ebb that comes with the season. In our culture, the pressure to keep moving, bouncing from one event to the -and doing it with a smile on our faces because it's the holidays-is such a load of garbage, in my opinion. Settle into the flow of less light and colder evenings by sleeping more and better, spending time by the fire cuddled up with a good book or movie and the ones you love. Fight the pull of doing more and enjoy the comfort of flannel pajamas and a cashmere blanket.
- by Jim Nicolai, M.D.
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