owner of , is a Certified Personal
Trainer in Northampton, who provides assistance to many
in the Smith community. As someone who once weighed more
than 300 pounds, Coffey remembers what the winter doldrums
are like. To help curb the tendency to get out of shape
in the dead of winter, she offers these tips.
By Kelly Coffey ’02
Winter’s got a bad rep, and rightly so with all the
darkness, freezing temperatures and the limited space to
walk around when we do venture outside. But winter needn’t
be a season of low activity, careless eating and emotional
malaise. Try some of these wintertime wellness suggestions
and you may find yourself beginning the spring feeling better
overall than you were at autumn’s end.
- Set a schedule. Winter
can be a transitional, often erratic time for students.
Adopting daily routines can create rhythm and regularity
helpful for keeping stress at bay. You might try outlining
your schedule at the start of each week, deciding in advance
when you’ll fit in
one or more of thes wellness-related activities.
- Stretch it out. Cold
temperatures mean tight muscles and stored tension galore
(think of how rigid you are when walking on ice!). Daily
stretching can alleviate stiffness and sooth sore muscles.
While a daily yoga practice would be ideal, simple stretching
at your desk or right before bed can help you relax and
maintain or improve flexibility.
- Let it shine. Though
the days have begun to lengthen, darkness is still falling
long before bedtime. Being in well-lit rooms can pep you
up and keep you moving well into the evening. Try turning
on an extra lamp in your room or office, or spending time
in light-flooded spaces like the Campus Center.
- Sweat it out. You
didn’t expect an
article written by a personal trainer to leave out exercise,
did you? If you’re feeling tired, cranky, or just
want to stave off the winter blahs, exercise is the answer.
Never been to the Olin Fitness Center before? Check it
out! Already have an exercise routine? Keep it up! You
might even try something new, like snowshoeing or cross-country
- Yuk it up. Of
the four seasons, winter’s
the one most associated with depression and lethargy. Laughing
works like a charm to lessen and (at least temporarily)
eliminate these unwanted states. You might try renting
a favorite funny movie, going to a comedy show, or having
coffee with a friend endowed with the gift of wit.
- Go it together. During
the cold months there’s
an inclination to confine oneself to the warmth of home
or office. Though this is an effective way to keep from
freezing, it has a tendency to get a little lonely. If
you’re opting to stay in, consider inviting a
friend or colleague to help you pass the time.
- Maintain your connections. No
classes and fewer obligations can mean lots more free time.
Calling and emailing friends, family and mentors is one
wise way to spend that time. Is there someone back home
you haven’t spoken
to since school started? Take a step beyond Facebook and
connect with them in real time!
- Get pampered, Honey. It’s
easier to neglect our bodies when they’re buried
under layers of fleece and Polartec fabric. Reverse this
tendency by treating yourself to your favorite beauty or
bodywork. You might consider scheduling an hour-long massage,
getting your energy tweaked, or having someone put an expert
spin on your eyebrows.
- Have a hug. Basic
human contact is a terrific way to counter winter doldrums.
A simple hug can serve to calm restless nerves, turn a
mood around, and create feelings of relaxation and contentment.
Try asking a friend or housemate to share a strong, 20-second
long hug with you. Do this several times a day and you’ll
be practically blah-proof!
- Eat for wellness. With
the holidays in the rearview it’s a great time
to eat for optimum wellness. Healthy eating means seriously
limiting simple carbs and high-fat foods, and enjoying
your fill of high-fiber vegetables and lean proteins. Drink
loads of water and herbal teas to stay hydrated, and enjoy
how your body feels when fueled well.