Thursday, November 18, 2010

Warm Up, It’s Winter! 5 Strategies to Beat the Winter Blues

By JJ Virgin
foggy beachWow, I can’t believe it is November already. This past summer we taped the first series of shows for Freaky Eaters which meant 12 hour days three days a week on top of an already crazy schedule. Between that and the June Gloom of La Jolla that extended out til October, I never felt like I had a summer.  So the shorter days and cold mornings are taking me by surprise!
I love the sunshine and warm weather which is why I live in Palm Springs so I always struggle with the transition this time of year.  I have found a few things to help warm me up to the fact that it is winter.
Make your own sunshine! I live in So Cal because I tend to suffer from S.A.D. – Seasonal Affective Disorder.  I make sure I get out in the sunshine daily but if you don’t have that option where you are then you can fake it with full spectrum lighting.  When you wake up in the morning be sure to flip all of the lights on to trick your body into thinking it is bright and sunny out!  And as a side note, be sure to check your 25- hydroxyvitamin D levels as less sunshine means lower levels of this precious nutrient. You want your levels to be 60-80 ng/ml and you may need to increase your supplementation during the winter (be sure to take a vitamin D that also contains vitamin K). 
Sleep in!  Take advantage of the shorter days to sleep longer. You need 7-9 hours of consistent sleep nightly so during the winter go for the 8-9 side of the equation. I want you to turn the lights on bright in the morning and then dim them down at night to help prepare your body for sleep.
Get cold, get hot, get cold again. One of the factors that has been attributed to weight loss resistance is static temperature.
When you get cold your body has to work harder to heat you up.  When you heat up, your body has to then push a bit to cool you down.
JJ and DaisyWhen I take my dog out without her jacket in the brisk mornings, she shivers which means her metabolism is boosted.  You can do the same! I don’t mean you need to freeze, but allow yourself to get a bit cold to make your metabolism turn up the heat.
A great way to warm up once you get back inside and keep that metabolism fired up is with a big mug of green tea.  Green tea boosts metabolism, calms you down due to its theanine content and protects your cells with its great antioxidant punch. The research shows you need quite a few cups to get these benefits so you may also want to take a green tea supplement (the active ingredient is EGCg).
Get crocked!  During the winter big entrée salads just don’t cut it for me. This is when I drag out the crock pot and get creative.  Start with a base of organic veggie or chicken broth and then add some lentils or beans, loads of veggies (I like mushrooms, zucchini, peppers, onions, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, cabbage) and your clean lean protein of choice (I throw in cooked leftovers like chicken or turkey).  Spice it up with some herbs – I love basil and rosemary, and you have a meal in under 15 minutes of prep time.  You can take some with you for lunch in a thermos (remember those?) and be the envy of your office :).

©2010 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. Nutrition and Fitness Expert JJ Virgin is a the author of Six Weeks to Sleeveless and Sexy and the co-star of TLC’s Freaky Eaters reality series. Visit her at to grab her free audio: 7 Steps to Break Your “Freaky” Food Habits Fast & Forever.

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