in addition to exercise, rainbow cat adds joy to my winter

A few years ago, I decided to kick up my workouts during the winter so that I would feel great during that dark season.  And guess what? It worked! My moods were great with the addition of a magic ingredient called exercise.  For about an hour each day, I worked out in classes that I enjoyed. It helped me lower my stress levels during the day and I slept better at night.  Suddenly my digestion began to improve.  Among other things, I also got into shape for the summer.

I think my experience is somewhat universal; at least this is the case where I workout.  Something I noticed happening in most classes is that people walk in looking like zombies.  Okay, no, maybe they are zombies: slow moving, often frowning, grunting and a little out of it.  By the end of the class, everyone has livened up.  People are laughing and chatting. You can tell they just received an energy boost.

It can be difficult to place workouts into my schedule; but experience has taught me that when you make the time for exercise, you get the reward of more energy and efficiency.  This has a positive impact on everything in the rest of life.

If I  feel really run down, then I can choose a more restorative workout such as yoga or meditation. If I am sick, I respect others’ health and choose to do this at home. If I am just a little tired, then I go to class, take it easy and listen to my body.

Other things that help me feel great in the winter are fish oils high in Omega 3 fatty acids.  Low blood levels of Omega 3 fatty acids can contribute to depression, so I make sure to get enough of this. I prefer to get this through the food I choose to eat. In a pinch, I can resort to supplements. In terms of supplements, I take vitamin D3, around 2000IU per day because studies show that it can help.

Eating right can go a long way to improving moods.  For me, I feel best if I eat lower carbohydrate foods. I take particular care to avoid sugar, gluten and dairy. I also minimize alcohol consumption. I do focus on eating plenty of good quality protein along with green and brightly-coloured vegetables.

Working out in the great outdoors and getting enough light throughout the winter are tried and true methods of improving moods as well.

There are many ways of approaching any one problem.  Don’t feel that you have to tough it out.  Seek out experts, be savvy and find ways to make it better.

Tammy Schmidt, Montreal

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