So what exactly is Seasonal Affective Disorder - SAD?
SAD is a severe case of the 'winter blues' which is a very real thing for a lot of people and we often hide behind it by joking about it - by describing or excusing ourselves from hibernating during winter time or the colder months. This happens by getting outdoors less, eating more, being less social, having lowered energy levels, increased tiredness and fatigue which often leads to gaining some weight through a combination of these things. This all adds up to making us feel more negative about ourselves, some irratability and moodiness which often affects our social lives and home environments too. Sound familiar?
It's natural to a certain degree that we do this during winter, and we are allowed to accept a few of these things at periods of time. It's also normal that we gain a few kgs during the colder months, some would say as a winter coat, but it's mostly due to food availability with most winter foods being more calorie dense (think roast veges compared to salads), but it's also due to the warming affect (thermogenesis) of eating and processing food. It's comfort, but how much room do we give ourselves too move during this time? Certainty makes for a harder spring time getting ourselves, physically and mentally back to our normal that we are happy with, or close to!
That's all the negative stuff done, so what are we going to do about it?
So, being a trainer and coach of course im going to attack it from the exercise standpoint.
If we can increase, or close to maintain, our exercise levels during this time, it'll help reverse many of the previously stated symptoms. Here's how;
- Increases bloodflow which warms us, which minimizes the chances of us eating to warm up
- Less time indoors, so keeps us away from the kitchen cupboards
- More time outdoors (hopefully in the sun) which stimulates serotonin release in our brains which is an anti-depressant and helps maintain our bodies circadian rhythms and probably sleep regularity due to more stable melatonin levels
- Burns calories and energy therefore allows us to maintain a slightly higher food intake or at least an equal balance to the increase in calories through winter type foods
- Helps to maintain muscles mass and keeps our muscles toned and working, therefore our metabolic rate stays elevated post exercise and all day long
- Releases endorphins which often trigger a positive feeling often described as 'euphoric', or 'runners high'
So if you feel Iike you are struggling with the winter blues or SAD this year, it's not to late to make a change and start preparing for a better end to winter or start of spring. There are many ways to do this, but here are some ways I suggest you consider or try;
Join a club - squash and golf are popular activities during winter that don't require high levels of fitness, can be done in your own time, but do require that you commit to playing with another person or a set time
Enter a springtime or early summer event. Because this puts a little pressure on you start preparing a little earlier in the year than an event during late summer or next year.
Join a gym or pool with a friend and make a plan to meet them on set days or times, as now you'll feel some pressure to not let them down (and vice versa), as this will act as your accountability method.
Get along to some gym, yoga or bootcamp classes.
Meet with a personal trainer or coach regularly so they become your accountability method.
At the end of the day, if you can't make the change on your own, but you realise you need help, all these ways offer you outside help by being your conscience, and commiting you to making the time in your schedule to go somewhere or attend something.
My challenge for you now is, if your not achieving your minimum requirements for fitness, health, and weight, then commit to a change. So choose an option above that best suits you, ask a mate to join you or tell someone about your commitment, and put it in your calendar now. Make that change today, that you want to see tomorrow.
Feel free to like, share and comment on this post and someone will win themselves a free week of attendance at my bootcamps.