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A cartoon drawing of a sleeping white bear
A sleeping bear

With the onset of cold temperatures, snow, and ice, there is a tendency for many of us to minimize our physical activities and stay inside where it is warm and dry.  Unfortunately, little to no physical activity, over-indulgence throughout the Holiday season, and too much cheer can add up to unwanted weight gain and poor physical fitness.

With careful planning, you can adopt positive life-style changes that can be continued throughout the year.  To create balance in your life you need to rethink all areas and avoid common pitfalls many weekend warriors have fallen into.  A balanced life includes rest and relaxation to restore your body, establishing a set bedtime to ensure you get 8 hours of sleep each night;  following sound nutrition; consuming alcohol in moderation; obtaining proper exercise 30-45 minutes 3-5 days/week; and practicing daily affirmations of prayer, meditation, and/or yoga for physiological quieting of the mind.  Each part of your program fits together into your personal lifestyle puzzle and can impact your overall success.

The biggest challenge will be getting started.  Remember, focusing on small, incremental changes over time will always produce the best outcomes.  You don’t have to eat yourself into a coma during the holidays and at every party thereafter.  You can eat something healthy before you go so you aren’t ravenous when you get there.  You can choose one treat to indulge in and make it count.  Consume raw fruits and vegetables, lots of greens, whole grains, lean proteins, minimal fats, and lot of water.  Avoid caffeine and sugars that create significant fluctuations in your energy levels and unwanted crashes.

The benefits of exercise are vast.  Exercise can increase your energy levels, facilitate weight loss and/or maintenance of ideal weight status, and improve your overall endurance, stamina, and fitness.  And let’s face it, endorphins in your blood stream is far better than any sugary treat.  When starting out, remember less is more.  Start slow and increase your workout time, repetitions, and resistance.  A basic exercise program should include 10-15 minutes of cardiovascular exercise and core strengthening.  I would recommend the following:

Warm-up: 10-15 minutes of cardio:

A line drawing of the steps in squats, front lunges, and side lunges.

A line drawing of the steps in front deadlifts front plank, and side plank exercises.

A line drawing of the steps in bridging with ball squeeze, lower abdominals, and shoulder diagonals

A line drawing of the steps in shoulder flexation and tricept exercises.

When the winter hibernation movement creeps in, take a moment to step back and write out a game plan. Remember, small changes over time results in the best outcomes. For more information, please contact Deborah Harris, PT, RD, CLT-LANA at PT360, Vermont’s only employee-owned physical therapy cooperative. Deborah has degrees in general dietetics and physical therapy, and obtained certifications as a Registered Dietitian and Physical Therapist. She is one of the owner/members at PT360.