We recently traveled to Alaska for Christmas. I can’t wait to share a number of snippets from our trip over the next couple of weeks (including some reports of great skiing and hospitality.) However, what stands out to me the most is how shocked I am every time I travel home about two things: the wind and the darkness.
As a kid, I didn’t think a thing of it. I was busy and it was my world (which made it completely normal.) In high school I raced (which is a loose interpretation of the word) XC skiing, which, if anything, just got me outside to catch a few hours of daylight throughout the week. The value of making that time for winter sunshine is carried with me today.
Over the 10 days we spent there, I got a good reality check about how difficult it really can be to get kids (safely) outside, daily. As much of a “die-hard” as I am about getting them out there, I forget how spoiled we are in the west with mostly clear skies and reasonable wind. The cold winds that come off the glacier in the Matanuska Valley can be downright brutal in the winter. We played the “safe parent” and brought them inside as P was literally being blown away on his sled as we walked on the frozen lake.
Additionally, we had about 5 hours of “good” day light. While I am not opposed at all to getting outdoors in the dark, the benefits of soaking up some sun (physically, mentally and emotionally) cannot be ignored. With two kids, this meant careful planning. If we weren’t ready to go the moment it got light (at 10 am) or before, our outdoor time ran smack into lunch time and crabby kids were guaranteed (or they were full of snacks!) If we waited until after lunch and naps, we could bet on racing the daylight. If we didn’t go out at all, everyone’s moods quickly became restless and irritable.
Here’s my point: Staying active outdoors and getting your kids fresh air daily can admittedly be really tough. It takes intentional planning and sometimes a lot of wrestling (mentally and with snowsuits.) I am all for spontenaiety (and often thrive on it) but, as all parents know, even the best of kids can have their own agenda. Even more note-worthy, it can be REALLY hard to get outside and be active in the winter. You are battling weather, daylight or just the pure effort it takes to get everyone bundled up and going.
A few tips to keep you going all winter:
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Outdoor time is outdoor time – it doesn’t HAVE to be anything glamorous! That said, plan some outdoor time into your schedule (just like you would exercise time.) Go out right before lunch, take a quick family walk right when everyone gets home from work or school, or set aside Saturday mornings for a family “adventure”.
- Be prepared. Know where your warm gear is and how to make it work best for each family member. We have canvas bins in the bottom of our hall closet where we keep gear separated AND available. Missing something? Check local outdoor consignment shops, craigslist or thrift stores. Facebook has also become a great tool for trading and buying/selling. Post that you are looking for _______ and are willing to buy it. Then be prepared to be surprised with what people pull out of their closets!
- Be brave – venture out, challenge yourself and just throw on another sweatshirt if you need to! You may be surprised how much fun you have.
- Check out these other quick fitness tips I wrote over on the Live Stonewear (Stonewear Designs) blog – you may be getting more exercise than you realized!
Know your fitness with Amiigo (coming soon!)
While I have yet to see this in person (but will later this spring), I had to share this sweet new fitness gadget that may just be an answer to those of us that need a little more motivation (and want to see tangible results.) Available now for pre-sale (and shipping in June) for around $100, the Amiigo is smart enough to not only track and recognize different exercises but it is able to discriminate very subtle differences in the same activities. It knows the difference between running on a treadmill and using an eliptical machine. As most gadgets are these days, it also has a social aspect to help you motivate others (and have them motivate you.) You wear it on your wrist (which they claim is very comfortable) and avoid the potential of losing it. The Amiigo then has a memory that allows you to later connect it with your smart phone (iPhone or Android) and see your results.
This video tells a bit more about it:
I want to know: How do you stay active in the winter? How do you keep motivated?
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