Overcoming Winter Wellness Hurdles and Priming Ourselves For the New Year

In a Canadian study, a whopping 86% of adults reported that their level of physical activity changes during the winter.

This stat is to let you know that if you are feeling this way, you are not alone

The cold weather and lack of sun change our diets and our desire to be outside.

Which unfortunately can take a toll on our mental and physical health.

Interestingly enough, January which falls smack dab in the middle of winter, is where most of us in the west are conditioned to start or restart our wellness journies.

I hear you.

I know you want to stay healthy during the winter.

You want to stay consistent with your wellness goals and not drop off.

You may even want to change your health in 2024. 

But how can we do this sustainably?

Today I want to give you guys some tips to stay consistent throughout winter and get started on your goals BEFORE January 1.

Let's get into it

3 Common Winter Wellness Struggles

I. Falling off-> sickness->demotivation repeat

Throughout my childhood and into young adulthood, I would get sick EVERY winter.

~Technically fall and winter because winter can start so early in Upstate NY.~

But this is because I wasn't in tune with what my body needed.

In TCM (traditional Chinese medicine) and other eastern systems like Ayurveda, there is a stress on nourishing and reflecting during the winter.

Which is very contrary to Western society.

"New Year New Me" is almost engrained into our culture, and I'd argue that's one of the very reasons many of us succumb to illness during these months.

Stay with me, I'm going to bring the Western science receipts too.

Instead of slowing down like the entire natural world around us…

Instead of focusing on sleep and getting the proper nutrients (which we'll discuss later), many of us have celebratory parties and spend a good portion of the winter in the hustle and bustle of holiday travel.

How does this affect our immunity though?

Well because all of this change in routine affects our sleep and oftentimes our nutrition.

When we don’t get enough sleep, our immune systems weaken making us more susceptible to colds and viruses.

 And because of the holidays and weather, we typically spend much more time indoors around strangers and airports and cute little cousins who kiss your face after putting who knows what in their mouth.

Holiday foods are also pretty notorious for leaning toward "unhealthy" and this increase in simple sugars and fats, along with a decrease in more nutrient-dense foods also affects our immunity

The winter and the holidays can also affect our hydration, and to many peoples' surprise, water is a nutrient!

During the cold weather months, a lot of people are less thirsty than they are in the summer, spring, and fall. 

Because we sweat less in the winter, we don't have that as a type of external feedback or indicator to replenish our bodies with water and this can lead to dehydration.

Many of us also drink a lot of sweet drinks instead of water and for those of you who do consume more alcohol during this, this may also affect your levels of hydration.

Why? Because our bodies have this nifty hormone called ADH or Anti Diuretic Hormone which signals to your kidneys to hold onto water.

Alcohol suppresses this hormone aka, you pee more when you drink, and your mind is probably not too focused on reminding you to rehydrate 😅.

II. Constantly Delaying Your Goals: "It's either one day or day one"

Like many of you, almost every year I would wait for the new year to start my goals instead of just starting when the feeling struck.

I would have to wait “until I was ready”, or wait until I had a clean start day, like "January 1st".

But I learned you can always come up with reasons not to be ready.

“I want to wait until I can invest in a gym, or a trainer”.

 “I need the right shoes”.

“I don’t have” dumbbells etc when walking is free and so is YouTube.

Start BEFORE you're ready.


It’s better to take the leap and step out of your comfort zone because that zone of discomfort that we’ve discussed before is where we transform!

III. Going 0-100 on New Year's Day: The negative impact of changing a routine too quickly.

You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems. —Atomic Habits, chapter 1

James Clear

I understand the enthusiasm of starting with a fresh slate, and what fresher and cleaner of a slate than a new year?

However, there is a difference between easing into a new lifestyle and cliff-jumping into it.

The Times reported in an article in 2022 that 80% of people fall off their New Year resolutions by FEBRUARY.

And on top of that under 10% of them stick to them through December.

From my near decade in the fitness industry and life as an athlete, I've noticed two common themes:

  1. People go from not working out at all or barely working out to trying a completely new routine and the DOMS becomes too much.

    DOMS is also known as delayed muscle onset soreness. Many times people may feel okay the day after a workout but then once they get back to the gym, the soreness kicks in, and it kicks in hard.

    They also become overly sore because they are training the same muscle groups day after day with little rest. And I Get it, programming on your own can be tough but try not to train the same muscle groups 2 days in a row.

    For example, if on Monday you do a lot of squats, lunges, and leg presses on Tuesday and Wednesday focus on the upper body or core. If you do want a bit of help easing into the new year feel free to fill out an application to join my virtual training program here.

  2. They try to change everything at once.

    I admire wanting to change your life for the better and being excited to do so, but you have to set up systems

    Systems allow you to do things like habit batch and focus on small daily activities instead of huge lifestyle changes when you do this, those small daily activities will compound and you can see exponential growth in 12 months instead of yo-yo-ing for 3 months and then giving up because your mind and body just can't take it any, more.

3 possible remedies

I. Focus on nourishment

 Earlier I discussed how I always spent the cold months sick because I wasn't giving my body what it wanted. 

One of those examples was with the foods I was choosing.

During the cold months, our bodies want more quick and sufficient types of energy to keep us warm.

Which means we want those sweet or salty and fatty foods. Simple carbs are a quick source of energy and fats give us the biggest bang for our buck in terms of calories.

However, there is a right way to do this.

Give your body complex carbs and healthy fats.

Stews are an incredible way to do this and are often nutrient-dense and give us that feeling of warmth that we crave when the temperature drops.

Some examples of nutrient-dense complex carbs are sweet potatoes, porridge, lentils, stews, and whole grains.

Vitamin D is also a very important nutrient to focus on during the winter, especially for women of color and women who wear the hijab.

When you have higher amounts of melanin, you’re basically walking around with a type of natural sunscreen…

And since studies show wearing sunscreen can reduce Vitamin D absorption by more than 90% it’s safe to say that the darker you are, the more likely it is you’re going to struggle with getting your RDA of vitamin D. 

Additionally, we all tend to cover our bodies more during the winter, not just hijabis, and this prevents our skin from soaking up that vitamin D.

Why is this a concern? 

Because vitamin D helps support bone health, control infections, reduce inflammation, and reduce cancer cell growth. 

~Some foods high in vitamin D include salmon, tuna, swordfish, sardines, and fortified grains.~

When we don’t get enough vitamin D we can suffer from things like Seasonal affective disorder or SAD, a mood disorder that many people experience during the winter that leads to feelings of depression.

Now studies have shown this is more correlation instead of causation meaning that low levels of vitamin D don't cause SAD, rather it's our lack of sun exposure.

And when it's cold we tend to isolate indoors, thus leading to more feelings of anxiety and depression.

Therefore we should try to tackle this holistically.

During this winter we should prioritize getting outside, moving our bodies, and eating well.

This way, by building these habits, we can keep our bodies healthy during all times of the year, especially in the winter.

II. The Energy Inspired Movement Method: Fueling your body with movement.

As someone with chronic illnesses, and recently diagnosed with ADHD, staying consistent with my wellness goals has always been a struggle.

But what I found has helped me stay the most consistent is my Energy Inspired Movement method.

I created a list of exercises and specific videos for specific levels of energy.

For low-energy days I go on walks, do my 5 go-to stretches, and try to prioritize using my stair stepper at my desk.

For middle energy days, I'll pop on Yoga with Adrienne, do some primal movement or a normal resistance exercise routine.

For high-energy days, I have a HITT routine by Heather Robertson that I absolutely love or I'll do a cardio-intensive workout.

Here is my notion template where you can plug in your favorite routines to give you some go-to options and avoid decision fatigue.

III. Yes? Flow. No? Let it go

For the past couple of years, this framework has helped me mitigate excuses, avoid rumination, and reduce stress in my day-to-day life.

Essentially it goes like this:

Can you change the thing? Yes, then do it. If not, release it and pivot.

For example, not being able to afford the gym membership is stressing you out because you feel like you need it to start your fitness journey.

  • Can you do some budgeting and get a Planet Fitness membership?(Most likely yes) 

    • okay! then do that

  • If you can't, focus on bodyweight workouts or dumbbell exercises you can do at home.

    • This will prime you to work with what you have and be more exploratory with your fitness journey. Honestly, this is one of the best ways to start.

Focusing on daily actionable steps instead of large and often daunting milestones can be the difference between a lifelong wellness journey and one where you’re waiting for that journey to begin.

If someone came to mind while you were reading this newsletter, I encourage you to send it to them. Maybe it’ll even help you have an accountability buddy.

I believe that sharing knowledge surrounding wellness is one of the greatest forms of love because most of us here want to be for a good time and a long time, and we also want the same for those we love.

Abundant light and radiant health,