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One Simple Changes so that Winter Vacation is really a Break
Dear Ellen, I am planning a cold weather winter (ski) vacation and am worried about staying healthy. What tips can you share to stay well and maintain my 2016 health resolutions?
Getting away from the cold and snow in the winter can recharge our batteries and keep us going until spring and the importance of vacation has been explored in various studies. However, sometimes we fall into old unhealthy routines and forget about our good intentions….here are some One Simple Changes to consider before, during and after your cold weather break!
Sleep. Getting plenty of rest both before you travel and during your trip is essential to staying well as our bodies need rest to fight and resist anything they might be exposed to. (Link to January sleep resolution)
Pack a health kit. Having a mini first-aid kit can be helpful no matter where you are.
Pack pain relievers, UV protection sun cream, antiseptic wipes, bandages, a cold pack, antibacterial ointment and anything else you feel might be necessary.
Pack Appropriate Clothing. When it’s cold, dressing in layers helps regulate your body temperature and gives you the flexibility to remove clothing as needed. Many winter activities can make you warm, but once you stop moving, you’ll want those heavier layers back. Wool socks, boots, thermal underwear and a warm jacket are essential as are gloves and a hat since the fingers and ears are especially prone to frostbite. For more layering advice, click here.
Avoid overexertion. Cold weather puts an extra strain on the heart. Even just taking a walk, the combination of colder temperatures and physical activity increases the workload on the heart, thus increasing the risk of heart attack. Remember, your body is already working overtime just to stay warm, so try not to overdo it and if you have heart disease or high blood pressure, consult with your doctor about your activity level in the cold. Adjusting to high altitudes might also take some time.
Understand wind chill. Being prepared for winter weather goes beyond checking the temperatures for the day. Temperatures around freezing accompanied by wind chill effects are risk factors for hypothermia and frostbite. As the wind speed increases, it can carry heat away from your body more quickly, thus making us more susceptible to weather-related health problems.
Practice slope safety. Skiing is great but also a sport that presents some very real dangers, making general safety awareness a top priority to preventing injuries. Some good advice includes ensuring that gear is safe and clothing is appropriate, wearing a helmet, caring about others, staying on marked trails matching ability level and following the local code of responsibility.
Protect eyes and skin. Clean snow reflects up to 90% of UV radiation on a clear day thereby increasing the risk of sun damage. Choose waterproof sunscreens SPF 30 or higher and wear sunglasses or goggles that offer 99% or greater UV protection.
Stay hydrated. The main function of water in the body is to regulate temperature, so it is normal that dehydration can contribute to hypothermia. When extremely dehydrated, the body can become imbalanced and have a difficult time maintaining a regular temperature. To avoid this, aim to drink 1 – 2 litres of water per day and avoid alcoholic and caffeinated beverages. Fruits and soups are also excellent sources for hydration. Juices and sports drinks are also good, but can be high in sugar. If these are the beverage of choice, consider diluting them with water.
Be restaurant savvy
In restaurants, we don’t always know what goes into preparing the food so here are some simple changes to be ensure health and perhaps shave calories making room for special vacation treats. After all, maintaining weight is a realistic goal during any vacation getaway!
- Make a plan for which meals of the day will be most indulgent
- Ask questions and make special requests at restaurants
- Order simply prepared foods. Baked, broiled or grilled
- Avoid ordering fried, crispy, or creamy foods
- Avoid or limit extras such as cheese and sauces
- Control portions by sharing
- Eat slowly to really taste the food and feel a sense of satisfaction, enjoyment, and relaxation of the vacation
- Drink water instead of soft drinks or alcohol
- Make a plan for when and how much alcoholic beverages to drink
- Alternate alcoholic with non-alcoholic drinks to stay well-hydrated and reduce total calorie intake
- Opt for lower-calorie choices such as light beer, wine spritzers, wine, champagne, or spirits mixed with water
A vacation that was meant to be relaxing can create post-vacation stress, but a simple change “good recovery strategy” can help to preserve that post-vacation feeling.
Leave yourself some free time – a day or so - after vacation before returning to work in order to organize a smooth return.
Coming back rested and happy can be used as motivation to keep exercising and preparing wholesome meals, especially since restaurant food was likely the norm on vacation. Incorporating Juiceplus into your daily routine is one simple change that can help.
Catch up on sleep! Limit the amount of alcohol and food you consume, get to bed at a reasonable hour, and exercise, to encourage getting rid of any sleep debt that may have accumulated on vacation due to increased alcohol, staying up later or jetlag.
Remember vacation! If you used your vacation to improve your health and exercise, reminisce and aim to keep those new habits in your daily routine. By maintaining that post vacation feeling and re-experiencing it in the present, life might become like a mini-vacation itself and with our upcoming tips for a loving Valentine’s Day, you already have something to look forward to!