Avoiding Those Pesky ‘Winter Blues’

One of the major perks of living in Vancouver is the amazing summer weather. While other parts of North America are battling the blistering heat and swamp-like stickiness, Vancouverites are smiling in the pleasantly warm and humidity-free summer months. As you can imagine, this has some amazing side effects, as we find any excuse to get outside and run, hike, and play in the many local parks and beaches to maintain our summertime fitness routines. Although the winter doesn’t bring with it quite the frigid temperatures of the east coast, the dreaded dark and gloomy winter days start to roll in come December.

In an effort to battle the typical ‘gloom and doom’ that hits me like clockwork each winter, this year I have decided I need to be proactive and make some actual goals to help avoid slipping into the undesirable sluggish feels of winter. So, my main goal this winter is to focus on maintaining my activity levels through these darkest and coldest months. However, I realize this goal is far too vague - I will have to add focused details to create targets that are truly achievable. 

Personally, I know that as it gets cold outside, it’s far too easy for me to stay inside and become inactive. So, goal number one is to move some of my favorite outdoor summer activities indoors - that way I won’t lose the progress I worked so hard to achieve. This means moving my yoga practice from the beach to the studio, and from running on the seawall to the treadmill. Doing that three days per week sounds easy enough. To push myself outside of my ordinary comfort zone, I am also going to focus on getting active outdoors. At least one weekend per month, I will get outside by hiking, snowshoeing, skiing, or even camping all winter long! 

Even though I now have this two-part goal all set to go, I know I can do even better. Specifically, I think this is the perfect opportunity to up my game and take advantage of the new age technological tools that are out there. In order to hold myself accountable, I know I will have to be extra cognizant of just how active I really am, and do a better job of tracking my fitness progress so I can make adjustments and really hone in on my goals. To help me become more aware of my fitness patterns and habits, I decided to head over to Sport Chek and get the Fitbit Ionic. My main motivation was to get an activity tracker that would assist me by showing me just how active I really am.

One month later, I am here to check back in with my current progress. Overall, I would say it’s going pretty well! Sure, I don’t always make it to the gym three days each week, and some of my outdoor weekend activities are more strenuous than others. But what I have learned, though, is that tracking my actual activity levels has taught me how to be resilient, plan ahead, and compensate for stretches of low activity. Quantifying my activity levels with the Fitbit has allowed me to illuminate my weaknesses and show me what I'm doing well. However, one of my favorite features has nothing to do with activity, but is just as important. In addition to tracking your activity levels, it also analyzes how you sleep. At first, I didn’t give this much thought. By increasing my activity levels, though, getting adequate sleep was just as critically important to ensure that my body could rest and repair itself to avoid an old-fashioned overtraining burnout. By informing me of how much light sleep, deep sleep, and REM sleep I was getting, it has opened my eyes to the small details of maintaining a well-rounded healthy lifestyle, and that was a big eye-opener for me.

As the days start to get a little longer and a little brighter, I can happily say that up until this point, I have been successful in fighting off those pesky ‘winter blues’! Armed with general and detailed goals has allowed me to keep the main objective in mind, and target in on the daily activities that will keep me on track. As we cruise closer toward spring, I will check back in with my progress, and maybe even cater and tweak my goals toward some warmer activities to come!