The start of a new year can bring about steadfast resolutions to become healthier, but it can also deliver a post-holiday funk: the weather is cold, the celebrations are over, and bulky sweaters or layers make it easy to cover up and forget the extra pounds you may have gained during the holidays.
Seasonal depression is a very real phenomenon – the most severe kind is called seasonal affective disorder (SAD), while other people may suffer from a more mild form of the blues.
Being down in the dumps can significantly affect your motivation, your diet, and your willingness to reach your goals. But with a few simple strategies, you can ward off the winter blues and keep the pounds off:
1. Learn a winter sport.
Living in California, we don’t have to worry about harsh winter weather conditions, but the cold and dreary skies can be enough to keep you indoors. To avoid being a couch potato, vow to learn a winter sport this year, like skiing, ice skating, snowboarding, or snow-shoeing. If weather permits, you can also pick up a new sport that isn’t winter-related, but that gets you outside and moving. Exercise will boost your mood, burn calories, and a daily dose of sunshine can help improve your vitamin D levels – which are important for both a healthy weight and a healthy state of mind.
2. Get a goal planner.
Resolutions are fine, but even better are small, realistic goals that you can track by month – or even by week. Buy a yearly planner or download a goal-tracking or note-taking app that can help you put your desires in writing and achieve them step-by-step (try The Desire Map Planner or Evernote). A realistic goal, for example, might be to cut out dessert five nights a week or to give up alcohol for a month. Reward yourself with non-food “treats” when you reach your goals. This will give your brain a dose of feel-good dopamine and will inspire you to set other goals.
3. Plan a trip.
It’s easy to throw in the towel on your weight loss goals when swimsuit season seems so far away. But planning your spring or summer vacation now can not only help keep your diet on track, but it can also give you something to look forward to. Get your spouse or family involved and make the planning process a fun activity.
4. Tackle those backburner chores.
January tends to bring into focus what we need to clear out from our lives in order to start fresh. So if you’re battling the winter blues or the winter buldge, distract yourself and find a sense of control by tackling long-standing items on your to-do list: cleaning out closets, doing home-repair projects, organizing your junk drawers, or other similar tasks.
5. Get support.
A feeling of isolation can set in during winter, when we swap going out and socializing for staying indoors. Make sure you’re well-connected to a support system, whether it’s to help with your weight loss or to keep you motivated in other areas of your life. If you’re a GreenLite client, joining our Facebook group is a great place to start (click here and then click “join group”). All in all, make sure you have a network of people you can talk to that can provide encouragement when needed.