Winter Blah’s Got You Down?

17 01 2014

Well, here we are. The dead of winter. The dreary skies and the frigid chill have brought about fantasies of curling up on the couch under a blanket with a warm cup of cocoa and a good

Cathy Shaw

Cathy Shaw


We often give in to the temptation of inactivity and “comfort foods” when the weather makes a down turn after the holidays. You know what I mean by “comfort foods”… those ooey , gooey, cheesy, creamy, warm foods that make us feel good inside. Unfortunately, many of those foods may make us feel good inside, but also pack in loads of unhealthy fats and calories. Combined with the fact that we have no desire to come out from under that blanket, this can be a recipe for disaster when it comes to meeting our health and fitness goals. You put in so much time and effort prior to the holiday season, and managed to navigate your way through the hustle and bustle of Christmas; you can make your way through the next couple of months too! Just imagine what lies around the corner….Spring!

Here are a few tips to help get you through the winter blahs….

  1. Exercise: This is a great way to bring energy back into your day. Not only does it help manage your weight, it helps manage your mood! Exercise can help by not only keeping you fit and making you feel good about staying on track, but it can also release those “feel good” chemicals in your brain called endorphins that improve your mood and make you happy!
  2. Eat a healthy diet: This goes without question. What you eat and when can really help manage your energy levels. Contrary to what we think, “comfort foods” like macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, potato soup topped with cheese and bacon, and chocolate chip cookies don’t really make you feel better…they will weigh you down and zap your energy due to the fact that they are heavily laden with fat, refined carbs  and calories. These can affect mood by causing lack of concentration and mood swings. Choose nutrient dense foods (ones with more nutrition and less calories) like whole grains, lean proteins, fruits and vegetables. Eat at regular times to keep energy levels up and stable throughout the day. Your body and mind will thank you.
  3. Get some sun: Sunshine helps our bodies make Vitamin D and it can also help improve our mood. In the winter we tend to stay cooped up indoors due to the cold weather. Lack of sunlight can make us feel downright depressed! Just like exercise, sunshine helps release mood boosting chemicals in our brains. So bundle up and take a walk outside!  New technology in cold weather clothing has made playing outside a much more enjoyable experience than when we were kids! Moisture wicking and wind resistant materials now give you no excuse not to soak in some sun in the winter!
  4. Lean on me: Make sure you have a great network of social support. Spending time with friends, family, and coworkers can make all the difference in your mood and how you tackle your day. Keep in touch with the special people in your life….give them a call, message them on Facebook or plan a coffee date. These people are always there for you when you need them.
  5. Plan a special event: Usually the dead of winter means there is nothing planned to look forward to. The holidays are over and we are just waiting for Spring. So plan a special event…anticipation of something fun always improves your mood! Think of something you haven’t done in a while…a day trip skiing, snow tubing or a visit to a local ice rink…just think, fun and activity all in one!!! Relaxation is great to…how about a trip to a spa or yoga class? Try something new!
  6. Get some sleep: Sleep is very important to our overall health as well as our weight and risk of chronic disease. When we are sleep deprived, our hormones that drive our appetite can increase, and the ones that make us feel satisfied can decrease. Try to make it a point to get adequate and consistent amounts of sleep. Remember that too much sleep (such as the 12 hour catch up we do on the weekends) can actually leave you feeling more tired and moody. Being well rested can boost your energy and keep you from getting cranky!

Above all, make the most of each day. Stay focused on your goals and keep moving on…spring is just around the corner!!

Crock Pot Beef Stew: One of winter’s best comfort foods! And so easy!

Source: Better Homes and Gardens Crockery Cookbook

Makes:  4 servings

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cook time: 7-8 hrs

2 Tbsp flour

1 lb lean stew beef cut into 1 inch cubes, trim any visible fat

2 Tbsp canola oil

2 ¼ cups cubed potatoes

2 cups sliced carrots

1 cup sliced celery

½ cup chopped onion

2 tsp instant beef bouillon granules (can use reduced sodium)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp dried basil

½ tsp dried thyme

2 ½ cups low sodium vegetable juice


Place flour in a plastic bag. Add meat cubes a few at a time, shaking to coat meat with flour. Heat canola oil and brown meat, half at a time. Drain off any fat.

In a 4qt crock pot, layer potatoes, carrots, celery and onion. Sprinkle with bouillon granules, garlic, basil and thyme; add meat. Pour vegetable juice over meat.

Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or on high for 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours or until meat and vegetables are tender.

Nutrition Facts per serving: 369 calories, 31g protein, 34g carbohydrate, 12g fat (4g saturated fat), 783mg sodium




2 responses

17 01 2014

Exercise does make you have more energy. I was so tired when I came in after work of evenings this week – and the last thing that I wanted to do was go to the gym. But I made myself go after work – did my cardio and some weights – and left the gym filling energized. It does work – you just have to get yourself going!

24 01 2014

Great! I feel the same way! Exercise boosts your energy and your mood AND makes it more likely that you will make healthy food choices!

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