Health & Wellness Articles

5 Secrets to Winter Health and Energy

Stay Healthy and Happy to Weather the Season

By Ellen G. Goldman, Health and Wellness Coach         
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My monthly weight loss support group sat around looking rather dismal at the first meeting following an unexpected autumn snowstorm.  Winter was arriving sooner than anticipated, and my group voiced worrying thoughts about how they'd stay happy, healthy and energized—and continue losing weight—through the colder months.
Unless you live in an area that has a warm climate all year long, there is a good chance that you also face some health concerns and challenges during the winter months. The abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables during the warmer months make eating healthy easy and delicious. In the heat of the summer, we just don't want to eat hot, heavy foods or turn on the oven to bake cookies or cakes.  When winter rolls around, comfort foods, many of which are high in calories and fat, tend to come calling for us. Not to mention the myriad of food-centric holidays and festivities that take place from Halloween through Valentine's Day! Couple that with the thicker, baggier and body-hiding clothing in winter and it's no wonder that our motivation to exercise and eat healthy is higher during the warmer months of the year.
Warmth and sunshine are certainly more inviting for outdoor exercise than darkness, cold, snow and ice.  Cold temperatures and shorter days with less light drain your energy, leaving you feeling lethargic and even mildly depressed.  Individuals who notice these changes year after year when winter creeps in may even be diagnosed with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  Once looked upon skeptically by the medical community, it is now a recognized disorder. Dr. Richard Friedman, a professor of psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medical College, estimates that 9.7% of the population in New Hampshire suffer from SAD (compare that to his estimate of just 1.4% of the population in sunny Florida). 
Taking all of these factors into consideration, it's no wonder my clients were concerned.  I did my best to reassure them, as I want to do for you.  Regardless of whether you actually have SAD, or just notice yourself feeling sluggish during the winter season, there are many things you can do to alleviate or prevent the winter blues and stay healthy and happy despite the weather outside.
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About The Author

Ellen Goldman Ellen Goldman
Ellen founded EllenG Coaching, LLC to help individuals struggling with health issues that can be impacted by positive lifestyle change, such as weight loss, stress management, exercise, and life/work balance. As a certified professional wellness coach and certified personal trainer, Ellen holds a BS and Masters in Physical Education and is certified by ACSM, AFAA, and Wellcoaches Corporation. Visit her at Get her complimentary report, 52 Tips, Tools & Tricks to Permanent Weight Loss Without Going on a Diet, at

Member Comments

  • I convinced myself that because I was journaling my consumption, and completed an 8-week rehabilitative exercise program, I wsa in as good shape as I had been before I had some life-lasting medical problems. The next few years I was slightly more active than I had been for 4 years preceding my problems. When it finally came time for closer examination of my heart and the pacemaker that was installed, I learned oh so differently; the numbers told the story. For the last 4 years I have taken much better care of myself, and now I can say truly I am in better health than I 25 years ago when I was in my early 40s. - 1/24/2016 7:30:51 AM
  • You gave us some great things to consider. THANK YOU. - 1/23/2016 9:48:41 PM
  • I truly believe nothing keeps you feeling better than a few minutes of sunlight everyday! I spend a few minutes (at least) in the outdoors everyday, no matter how warm or cold it is. It helps to exercise but nothing takes the place of sunshine. Better yet walk outside. I walk my dog at least twice a day more if its up to her. - 1/23/2016 12:51:05 PM
    Its definitely summer here?.. - 6/16/2015 11:14:41 AM
  • Great article and thanks for saying it is okay to curl up and read a book! - 2/15/2015 12:08:23 PM
  • I absolutely loathe the cold. Winter for me is the worst ever! I moved to Sacramento this last may, I was hoping that the cold would never find me again, I was very very wrong. Although it is not as cold as Seattle, it is still too cold for me! As a cyclist this is my biggest hurdle, to get up and bundle up to bike takes every ounce of energy just to get started. Once I get out there and warm up my joints a bit, I am fine and I do love that it does warm up during the day, just the evening and the mornings are cold. I really wish I did not hate the cold so bad, but I always have. I would make a terrible Tibetan! - 11/25/2014 12:36:03 PM
  • Martial arts work really well inside. All you need is a little floor space. A dummy and a baseball bat can do wonders for your mood, especially if you can paint the dummy to look like your boss. Or maybe your boss already looks like a dummy... - 2/1/2014 7:03:38 PM
  • Maybe it's just because I am getting older that even winter goes by fast, but I have also incorporated many of the above suggestions. I am a nurse in a family practice office and see a lot of illness but am seldom Iill myself which I attribute to lots of exercise and sweating during spin class, getting outside for exercise on my days off, eating lots of fruits and veggies (and adding grapefruit if I think I may be coming down with something) - 1/18/2014 12:15:04 PM
  • grammar police: its 'myriad food-centric holidays' not 'myriad OF'. Now i'm done being a jerk and I'll move on :D - 1/17/2014 3:24:52 PM
  • I love winter and go out in the snow all the time....and find myself getting sick less often than other adults. I don't use winter as an excuse to not be outside and I always make sure I'm drinking enough and eating a lot of citrus. I've had the flu about four times in my thirty years and have never had a flu shot.

    I definitely don't have SAD. I find summer far more depressing because I hate going out in the heat and am stuck inside on any 90F + days (thankfully that's not all of them here). I try to spend as much of summer as possible in the water..... - 1/17/2014 1:03:21 PM
  • Thanks for sharing - 12/29/2013 6:23:06 AM
    Oh yeah, that was a problem when I lived in Seattle for sure.
    Since I moved back to No. California it rains a lot but after the monsoon it gets gorgeous and sunny for a few days. Even on the beach!
    Good suggestions! - 2/4/2013 3:10:27 PM
  • Luckily I don't think I have any issues with SAD. I do have depression, but I don't really feel like the depression gets worse in the winter time - 2/4/2013 1:09:08 PM
  • Wow! What a great article!

    The sentence How about we slow down our crazy life of always needing to be doing something "productive" and engage in some fun and meaningful activities? really spoke to me because I am always doing something - laundry, cooking, cleaning.

    I need to engage in some fun and meaningful activities and be less productive! I give myself permission! - 2/4/2013 11:05:14 AM
  • Skijor! - 2/4/2013 10:27:43 AM

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