If you live in Canada you can be certain as the seasons that no matter how much we dread it’s arrival the snow and chill of winter will always return to remind us that we…well… live in Canada.
Old Man Winter arrived in Calgary arrived yesterday like an unwelcome relative dropping by unannounced. I admit I wasn’t happy to see him.The Scottish have a term for weather he bought along.
Dreich; A combination of dull, overcast, drizzly, cold, misty and miserable weather. At least 4 of these adjectives must apply before the weather is truly dreich. Yesterday was truly dreich.
Back to bulky clothing, short days, warming up the car before you head out, and since today was scheduled as a run day it also meant braving the wind and cold in the name of health and fitness and walking my talk. Or I could just stay in.
Isn’t that what happens when the cold weather returns? Indoor exercise turns into ‘if I feel like it’ and fairweather becomes your outside exercise calling card. But winter is long in this part of the world so why not learn to enjoy chilly winter exercise? My dog Lilly sure does, and since she’s such an expert I thought I would share with you 4 things she’s taught me about enjoyable winter exercise. She’s such a smart hound.
1) Maintain a PAWS-ITIVE attitude. Your body needs your care and there’s no better way to nurture health than through regular exercise. at least 3 times a week should be non-negotiable. Well if you have a dog in the house 7 days a week is the status quo and no matter the weather Lilly looks outdoors and says “Let’s DO this! Outside! Fresh air! Walkies! Oh yeaaaaahhhhh!” Well that’s what she would say if she could talk. She doesn’t care about the weather out there, she just knows that there are all sorts of wonderful things to experience during a walk in nature and she knows she’s always going to feel better during and after her walk. She sees the good and not the dreich.
2) Wear your winter coat. There is no such thing as bad weather in Calgary, just bad clothing. Since late fall Lilly has been thickening up her winter coat so she’d be ready for the bad weather when it comes. And she romped around in yesterday’s snow like a baby at the beach. She’s always a little surprised at people who don’t dress well enough to enjoy the outdoors, or worse yet choose to stay in because it’s toooo collllllddddd. That’s crazy talk according to Lilly.
Warm socks, good boots, a fleece lined hat that covers your ears (have you seen Lilly’s flaps?), wind proof gloves, a gortex or down jacket, a neck warmer if you need it. With the right clothes the chill stays out and you can fully enjoy the fresh air and beauty of any winter day.
3) Stick to a routine. Lilly doesn’t care if I’m too busy, sick, or unwilling to go outside, routine is routine. Every morning after breakfast is done she sits down right by my chair to remind me what comes next. Every morning. “It’s walk time mummy.”
She knows the value of consistency and she keeps me on my toes. The beautiful thing about her persistence is that I am constantly reminded that no matter how busy I am, I can always find time for a 30 to 40 minute walk or run in nature with a dog who helps me pay attention to the simple things – squirrel chasing, playing in the water, eating sticks, noticing nature.
Write your daily 10-40 minute effort in your schedule and take the time every day to take care of your body. You’ll have more energy, feel better about yourself for not putting it off, and the productivity you gain will help you get through your to do’s despite the fact (or should I say in celebration of the fact) that you took time out for self-care.
4) Be proud of every exercise effort and reward yourself in kind. Lilly loves the outdoors no matter what season it is, but she also loves to get home and reward herself with a good nap. I also think she’s quite proud of herself when she has worked hard like we did on yesterday’s run. Now I’m aware that you may not have time to take a nap after every exercise effort. I sure don’t, but for me the reward comes in knowing I’ve put myself at the top of my priority list no matter what. Non-negotiable. And for that I feel proud too.
I look forward to my morning walk or run with Lilly no matter what time of year it is. She’s taught me to stay paws-itive, dress for the weather, stick to her schedule and be proud of myself for making it happen. Listen to Lilly. She’s a very wise Weimaraner. Set yourself up for winter exercise success and learn the value of taking time for yourself.
Cuz Doggonit, you’re worth it!