After years of living in Los Angeles I grew to love the summer. I am one of those human beings that loves the sun. loves the heat and everything else that comes in those summer months like farmer's markets with fresh fruits and vegetables!
Now that the weather is getting super cold, I am getting worried. Usually in the winter, with months of grey weather, I tend to become a bit more lethargic and a bit down in the dumps. This year, I want to try something different.
Normally, there are habits I have in the summer that I stop once the cold weather comes. This year, I have chosen a few of them to continue doing into the fall and winter. As a little experiment I am seeing how I fare the next few months and see how I feel.
I am sharing here because I have heard from others that they experience the same. After October, there are energy dips, more sadness and healthy habits drop off. A lot of us fall into some kind of a funk. So, this year, I don't want that to happen.
This year, I’m going to keep the funk at bay. I'm going to implement a few of the habits that I picked up during summer and I'm going to continue them during the fall and winter months. My hope Is that you too can do this experiment and we can all learn together.
Summer Habits that I will do in the cold weather.
#1 Timing of Meals
I've always been of the belief that if you eat lower on the hunger scale you'll do better overall. The hunger scale is basically monitoring the intensity of hunger. The scale goes from one to ten, "one" being not hungry at all and "ten" being ferociously hungry. If you eat when your hunger is at a lower number you'll tend to make better choices.
Eating earlier suits me! This summer that's exactly what I did. Typically I eat lunch around 1:00pm and dinner around 6:00pm. But this summer, because of scheduling changes, I was eating lunch a bit earlier like around 11:30. Then, I ate dinner around 5. That's what works for me! I felt better and didn't need to eat as many sweets after dinner.
Over the years, I have discovered that when I realize I'm hungry, it's usually too late. Once I am hungry, I need to eat and it has to be quick! What I’ll want at that time is something super sweet and vegetables don't typically look good to me once my hunger is at a high level.
As an extra precaution, and to prevent over eating from happening when eating out, what I typically did was pre-eat. In other words, I would eat a meal before I was going out for a meal. That might sound like over kill, but it actually helped me a lot.
Pre-eating would shoot the responsibility back to me. In other words, since I wasn't waiting for somebody else to feed me, I was taking responsibility for eating "well." I want to take care of myself. Then when I went out to eat, I would have a light meal or even a regular meal, but at least I knew that I was in control. All of my food choices I made would be pretty healthy.
This technique works so much better for me because if I was meeting people when I was outside of my hunger zone, by the time I sat down and was actually serve the food I could eat a whole basket of bread.
#2 Plan Dinner During Breakfast
You know when you're on vacation and you just go from meal to meal to meal? Maybe you are at breakfast and it's a kind of funny thing to ask, "Oh what are we going to eat for dinner?"
Weil that happened a lot this summer and what I found was that if I thought about it in my head or even planned and took some steps to prepare, my dinners were so much easier.
That could mean anything from pre cutting a salad to realizing I was out of an ingredient that I needed for dinner. It just gave me a bit more "cushion" around that meal.
While I do odd things to take care of my health, I realize that one of the weirdest things I do is have soup during summer. Yes, it's true. Simple and easy and just have to heat it up! (Once it's made of course.) So during breakfast, it was really easy to take a container of soup out of the freezer when it was early morning and defrost it for dinner.
I also found that it's somehow settled my mind. I am the main cook in my household, and knowing early on what I was preparing for dinner was less stressful. If I didn't keep postponing the planning of dinner I lessened the buildup of stress. I have seen others just stop off at a fast food restaurant to prevent this.
Typically I don't wait for dinner time to start cooking dinner. That never ends well. If it gets to be 5:30, 6:00 or 6:30 and I still haven't even started dinner, I know all the plans and preparations won't matter by the time I eat. I'm usually so famished that my choices aren't great.
#3 Melons in the Morning
Another thing you might not know about me is that I am obsessed about watermelons. It is my favorite thing to eat. When I go to the market to buy produce, I will usually pick up about 4-5 watermelons in the summer. Imagine the looks I get from the cashier. It's not surprising to hear, "You must be having a big party today!"
I ate a ton of watermelon, and this past summer, I ate a lot of it in the morning. That was wonderful for me. It felt very hydrating and cleaning. About an hour or two after, I also had a huge smoothie. Both of those together really filled me and set me up nicely for the day.
Have you heard about food combining? It's basically the idea that different foods don't digest well when they're put into the belly together. Different foods have different transit times when it comes to digestion, and it is good to be mindful of that.
One of the main rules is that melon is always eaten alone. This is because melon is very fast to digest, and if it is eaten "after" another food, it might rot and ferment before it gets digested. This can create gas or stomach upset.
This summer was an incredible season for watermelon, so I did feast away. In the morning I typically rose early and after I had my yerba mate, I would have watermelon.This worked out for me and I felt great. Eating melon in the morning filled me a lot so I wasn't hungry or needing sweet.
Following food combining rules, I always ate the melon alone. Wanting that feeling of "hydration" I was able to stay away from breads and cereals which usually left me feeling "loaded down" and dehydrated.
It is important to note that when you eat fruits and vegetables especially if you have a meal of ONLY fruits and/or vegetables, you're going to need more than what you typically consider a serving. Most think that when portioning out melon, you have a cup or two at most. But, thinking this way isn't going to do the trick for you if you are looking for satiety. You're going to be hungry in about half an hour! So if you are going to have watermelon for breakfast or cantaloupe or honeydew, eat a lot of it.
#4 Social Media Batching.
Not only do I work a lot on social media, but I also use it for entertainment, catching up with friends, and understanding the latest trends. I can end up spending a lot of time each day on social media. It is fine as entertainment, it's it's fun and it keeps me relevant. That being said, I can get derailed and spend hours at a time on social media. I knew that that wasn't great.
During the summer, I started setting a timer. When I went on social media for entertainment, I limited my time and used the sound of a timer to "cue" the end of it.
Sometimes this was actually a good way to get me to sit down to a task that I wasn't looking forward to. I would give myself a little bit of time to kind of stroll around and look and see what's going on and then, at the timer Buzz, I turned it off. I really found that this technique worked for me.
When I would allow myself to spend some time just enjoying what I wanted to enjoy without judgment. I also found that it would help me start to work in other ways.
Remember that the goal of social media is to keep us hooked, right? I mean social media is big business. They are in the business of making money and that's great, but I want to keep that in mind as I'm opening my phone. Everything that is happening, is there to keep me there. I want to be at choice with what I'm watching and I want to choose how long I'm going to watch it for.
I don't know about you, but where live in Baltimore Maryland, it's gray, and it can be gray for months on end. It is depressing!! Then when summer time comes, and the sun is peeking through the clouds, it just lifts everybody’s mood. You can see it and you can feel it.
There's actually a physiological reason for that. Mostly it has to do with vitamin D and the way we metabolize it in our body. The more vitamin D, the better our mood.
This winter I'm going to do my best to keep my vitamin D levels high. How am I doing this? I'm going to take a really good vitamin D supplement. I'm also going to add in a blue light I got very inexpensively off of Amazon.
Blue lights are interesting and a really easy thing to use. You turn it on and have it in your peripheral view. in other words you're not looking directly into the light, it's to the side of you. That's it. All I do is sit down at my computer in the morning, turn on that light and forget about it. We might only need 20 minutes to half an hour, I'll just keep turning the light on intermittently throughout the day!
All of these steps together are going to keep my mood elevated throughout the fall and winter months. What about you? What will you do? Any good ideas? If so, would love to hear them. List them in the comment section below!
Be well, stay safe.