Now that hibernation season is officially on its way, you may feel a bit disconnected from the outside world at times. This may include those things that helped you stay on track with your medical weight loss program: a daily walk with your neighbor, laps at your community pool, and fresh fruits and veggies from your local market. It’s time to shift your focus indoors and find some things in your own home that can keep you motivated and supported through the cold winter months. Here are five suggestions to help:
1. Your stairs. If you have stairs, they’re one of the best (and free) ways to get fit and burn calories. Try the following next time you’re stuck inside on a cold winter day (remember to wear comfortable shoes):
a. Stair-climbing: Walk up and down your stairs 10 times (up and down counts as one time!).
b. Tricep dips: With your hands, grip the edge of the third-to-the-bottom step of your staircase, with your arms straight and elbows pointing behind you. Your body should be lifted off the stairs and you should be facing forward. Have your torso and legs in a straight line with your feet on the floor. Bend your arms to 45 degrees, supporting the rest of your body, and then straighten again. (Note: If you are especially tall, you may need to use a higher step.) Repeat 10 times.
c. Leg lifts: Sit in the same position as the tricep dips, but instead of bending your arms, keep your arms straight and raise one leg at a time for a count of five. Focus on keeping your core tight for the entire exercise. Repeat on the other leg. Do 1 to 2 sets of 10 each.
2. Your slow cooker. Nothing beats the aroma of a home-cooked meal at the end of the day. Arriving home from work when it’s dark and dreary can have you reaching for the phone to order pizza or diving into a bag of chips. Your slow cooker can change all that. In the morning, simply throw in a lean protein—think chicken or turkey breast, or raw beans or peas, add a healthy starch like potatoes or brown rice, and some veggies. Add in a bit of liquid and turn it on. Presto! By the time you’re home from work, the delicious aroma of whatever you’re cooking will fill your house and make temptation less likely. Just serve and enjoy!
3. Your computer. If, like most of us, you spend even longer hours at the computer when the weather’s bad, use the time to burn calories and get stronger at the same time. The secret? Ditch your chair for a stability ball instead. Focus on keeping your core tight and your back straight whenever you’re on the ball. Don’t work at the computer much? Sit on the ball instead of the couch whenever you watch TV.
4. Your craft room. Whether you have a room reserved for scrapbooking and gift-wrapping, or simply use the kitchen table, it’s time to give yourself a present. Make a Success Scrapbook for yourself. Cut out inspirational quotes and photos out of magazines, and paste them in. Add pictures of yourself at milestones on your weight loss journey. Images of healthy foods and workout equipment are great to include, too: Whatever helps you focus on the positive changes you’re making, and celebrates the successes—big and little—you’ve had. Pull out the book whenever you feel your motivation sagging, or a temptation calling.
5. Your freezer. If your fruit and vegetable intake plummets with the weather, take advantage of another chilly place—your freezer. Frozen fruits and veggies used to get a bum rap, but are actually quite nutritious and extremely convenient. (And no worries about spoiling!) There are lots of organic options now, too. Stock your freezer with bags of your favorites: spinach, broccoli, and edamame are just a few to consider. Throw them into any meal to bulk it up and keep you satisfied: egg-white omelettes, soups, stews, and casseroles. Frozen fruits let you enjoy your favorites out of season, too: Frozen cherries, blueberries, and peaches are just a few options to keep on hand. They make a quick and delicious smoothie when you’re craving something sweet, are a delicious topping for yogurt or cottage cheese, and can be thrown into oatmeal and other hot and cold cereals.
Remember to always get clearance from your physician before starting or modifying any physical fitness routine.