Three-fold Foundation for Fall & Winter Wellness
By: Connie Pshigoda
The last picking of fall’s garden filled the bushel baskets in Grandma’s cellar with bold colors of gold, orange and green and that “fresh-picked” fragrance which briefly covered the musty cellar smell. Our barn boasted hefty hay bales ready for the cattle’s winter feedings. My new school wardrobe hung in my closet, ready for the cold season ahead. I felt safe, prepared and ready because my family had gathered in and stored up for the uncertainty of the coming months.
The season of gathering in and storing up is especially exciting to me, even today, many years since those childhood days of playing in my grandmother’s cellar. Those early experiences laid a foundation of inner preparedness that I continue to use today in my personal health and well-being and in my career.
Fall and winter typically aren’t the seasons we think of building or supporting our health. Sadly, many women (or their families) spend numerous days trying to “cure” a winter cold, the flu or other seasonal ailments. Even in this harsher season, there are several wonderful natural remedies and resources to build, strengthen and beautify our inner temple.
With fall and winter come shorter days and longer nights, nudging us indoors for warmth, protection and replenishment. In addition to the time shift’s affect on our well- being, the climate change to cold and damp also takes its toll on our body.
Let’s look at three areas we can build a strong foundation of preparedness for super health during fall and winter—diet, exercise, rest—that will support our inner temple in all seasons.
Diet: All these seasonal changes prompt us to adjust our diet. Simplicity best describes the ancient winter diet which, unfortunately, our modern tastes and lifestyles have all but forgotten. A healthful fall-winter diet should include heat producing foods which consist of foods higher in protein and fat. These substantial foods also help to counter-act the drying effects of the colder season.
Include these mineral rich foods in your fall-winter menu: winter squash (acorn, autumn cup, banana squash, butternut, carnival or pumpkin), root vegetables (beets, yams, sweet potatoes, parsnips, onions, turnips, carrots or rutabagas), nuts, whole grains (especially amaranth and quinoa which are exceptionally high in protein), beans (soak them overnight before cooking) and heavy fruits (avocados, bananas, oranges, grapefruit and cooked apples). Healthy oils (olive, walnut, sesame and almond) also reduce winter dryness and warm the body. Spice up your winter diet with flavor and warmth using herbs and spices. Used sparingly, ginger root, garlic, cayenne pepper, cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, clove, mustard seed and sea-salt add the finishing touch to that winter soup or stew. Herbal teas make wonderful cold-weather refreshment and tonics while providing inner warmth and nourishment.
Since winter is the season the body stores fats, proteins and minerals, this is the season to eat heavier meat. Chicken, turkey, seafood and red meat in reasonable portions provide what your body needs. Now that we’ve tempted our taste buds, let’s look at the next area of our health foundation: exercise.
Exercise: Winter may be the season of introspectively drawing inward but that does not mean physical fitness should be neglected. Although this should be a quieter, calmer time of year, the calendar says otherwise. With several holidays occurring in the fall and winter season, it is important to balance our activity and relaxation levels to prevent reaching the “burn-out” point.
Recent sports medicine studies show a connection between moderate consistent exercise and a strong immune system. Researchers believe the physiological changes in the immune system during a routine exercise program may provide long-lasting health benefits.
Did you notice the researchers said moderate exercise? We don’t have to engage in lengthy intense-no-pain-no-gain type workouts to reap the rewards of improved health, stamina and weight maintenance.
Indoor exercise or “work-ins” as I call them can be relaxing while giving your muscles a work-out. Yoga, Pilates, ballet and the exercise ball are just a few of the many stretching-strengthening exercises that rev up your heart rate, increase your breathing and oxygen flow and improve your immune system helping you stay strong, toned and well during the fall and winter season.
One of the many perks of living in Colorado is the variety of winter sporting activities. Whether you ski, ice skate, snow board or snow-shoe, the exercises just mentioned may help your body stay conditioned and possibly prevent injuries.
Before beginning any exercise program, whether at home or in an exercise facility, please be sure your health care provider approves. Staying well hydrated before and after your fitness routine is just as important in this season as it is in warmer seasons.
Rest completes the third part of the inner-preparedness-foundation. If we follow the wisdom of natures changing cycles this part proves to be vitally important to our over-all long-term health and wellness. Let’s look at this third area more closely.
Rest: My Thesaurus gives several words that more clearly and completely define the word rest. Quiet, relaxation, state of inactivity, stillness, and pause are only a few of the many descriptions. Please take a pause-moment and ponder these terms. Does your daily routine allow time for quiet, relaxation or stillness? These words describe the fall and winter season to me. The sky becomes more subdued. Many animals sleep hidden away in hibernation. My garden lies dormant—at least on the surface—and the fields await spring’s harvest. God’s outer world takes a rest in order to become restored— brought back to its normal state of growth and fruition in the next season.
God wants his beautifully created woman to be restored also. In order for us to live “all glorious within” we must establish a firm wellness foundation in this season of gathering in, storing up and resting. When we use the fall and winter season as God designed, our body, mind and spirit are restored and ready for the abundant life and activity that come with spring and summer.
Are you ready to build your wellness foundation? By focusing on these three areas—diet, exercise and rest—we can reap great rewards even from small efforts.
Dear daughter of the King, my prayer for you is that God will embrace you with His nurturing warmth, quiet strength and indescribable peace during this fall and winter season.