By Abra Pappa for Nutritious America
We all know what a fuel efficient car is, well at least the basic idea behind it. I mean, I couldn’t point one out to you on the street’ and if you wanted to tell me to look for one you would have to say something like, “Abra, the red one, the small red car” then I would get it. A fuel efficient car reserves energy so as not to gobble up fuel, it saves money, it’s better for the environment, and overall makes a lot of logical sense.
But when I tell people that in the winter our bodies are looking for ways to conserve energy, to be more fuel efficient, I am met with resistance. Slow down? Conserve energy?
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) believes that people should live in harmony with their environment, to honor the seasons and their affect on our bodies.
In winter nature slows down, hibernates, the energy of the earth goes inward and internally begins the process of renewal for spring. To live in harmony with your environment during the season of winter means to honor the same principle: slow down, calm down, conserve energy allowing your body to prepare for renewal in the spring. Winter health in TCM is focused on the kidneys. Kidney health is the core of vitality, the source of strength throughout the body. When the kidneys are weak we age faster than we should, we feel more tired, our sex drive is decreased and their is an overall lethargy throughout the body.
To embrace winter and all the glorious peaceful qualities that come along with it align your food and exercise regimen with the season.
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Jenna Edmiston loves spending time in the kitchen with her six year old daughter creating healthy, wholesome meals. In between balancing family, work and her personal life, she tries to keep a healthy lifestyle with an open mind and heart. Head over to petitfoodie.com where she shares her thoughts on food, body image and children.
The New Year is finally here. With it came the extra pounds added during the holidays and freezing temperatures. I don’t know about you but I’m craving healthy, warm foods. Comforting foods don’t mean sacrificing your favorite pair of skinny jeans.
Here are a few of my very favorite tips I live by during the dreary days of winter:
- Starbucks can be addictive. Think of the high-calorie drinks as a special treat and only get them once a week. Always ask for skim milk. Your waist line and wallet with both thank you.
- When you are craving a fabulous warm drink, try drinking a huge mug of warm lemon water. Most of the time your craving will pass and you will feel energized.
- I crave mashed potatoes on the regular. Instead of making them with heavy cream and butter try adding chicken or veggie broth. This will enhance the flavor making them creamy and rich without the extra calories.
- Soups don’t have to be cream laden. The best soups can be made with fresh veggies and broth.
- Making a big batch of soup on the weekends is perfect for all you busy folks out there. The left overs only get better with time and make for great lunches.
- Serve a small salad at dinner every night. EVERY NIGHT. Don’t make excuses ….just do it.
- Embrace winters citrus fruits. Oranges and clementines are to die for right now. They are as sweet as apple pie. Is there anything more refreshing, really?
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Winter means cold, dry air, forced heat in your homes, lots of layers, and wool coats and sweaters. For me (and probably for some of you) it also includes a nosebleed or two at the beginning of the season and lots of long, hot showers. All of this drying, constricting, and irritating isn’t very good for your skin and can lead to dryness, itching, and even what is known as winter eczema. Eczema is an inflammatory skin condition that manifests with itchy skin and a rash and is believed to be triggered by both internal and external factors.
External factors that trigger eczema include the dry air, cosmetics, rough fabrics close to the skin, and even hot showers. Suggestions to manage external factors include using gentle skin cleansers, moisturize daily, cutting back on hot showers or baths, and keeping soft, breathable materials like cotton closer to skin. Dr. Shirley Madhere of Holistic Plastic Surgery also suggests “occasional colloidal oatmeal baths, castor oil massages, and moisturizing the body with shea butter.” Ahmet Altiner, M.D., F.A.A.D. of UWS Dermatology & Skin Care explains that “exercise promotes sweating and water loss. Although it is unlikely to cause eczema, in people who are prone to it, dehydration can exacerbate an atopic dermatitis flare.”
Externally, Michelle L. Butler CHHC, AADP, RYT suggests using “unprocessed (no bleaching, refining or deodorizing) organic virgin coconut oil… on the dry, cracked, peeling skin of eczema sufferers. Make sure to massage the oil deeply into the area. The medium chain fatty acids in coconut oil are easily and quickly absorbed into the skin, and will provide instant relief.”
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After a full day of snowboarding, skiing or snowshoeing the muscles of the hips can shorten and tighten. Flexible, open hips are a must for winter athletes. Without them performance may decrease while the risk of injury increases.
The following hip opening yoga poses are a must for keeping the lower body healthy and limber.
Warrior I and Crescent Lunge for the Hip Flexors
The psoas muscles, located along the front crease of the hips, are the powerful muscles that give winter athletes control, stability and strength. When they are tight, the low back suffers and as a result, injury can occur.
Yoga poses that stretch the psoas muscles are warrior one and crescent lunge. Similar to a runner’s lunge, these poses extend the front of the hip, giving those mighty hip flexors a dose of elasticity. For best results, be sure to tuck your tailbone under slightly.
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Just like a tough weightlifting routine at the gym, shoveling snow is also hard work. Treat it as you would any hardcore yet safe and effective workout and you will gain the benefits just as you would a carefully designed exercise program.
The following yoga poses and shoveling tips can help keep you strong, fit and protect your body from injury when the sidewalk is knee-deep in snow.
A flexible spine is a healthy spine, especially when it comes to shoveling heavy snow. Practice this twist before and after shoveling.
Lie down on your back with your right knee pulled into your chest and your left leg extended on the floor. Reach for your right knee with your left hand and roll onto your left hip. Extend your right arm out to the side. Hold for 10 deep breaths and switch sides.
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