McDermott: Winterize yourself

McDermott: Winterize yourself

Scott McDermott’s weekly column about health and wellness

I got a little blister on my lip this week. I get them every winter. I get a little dehydrated, the weather gets dry, I haven’t dug out my lip balm yet, and bam! A little water pimple forms, pops, and then I get a cold sore. I hate cold sores. I have had them since I was 8 years old. It’s a sign of winter for me, almost more so than snow.

So now I have my Vaseline and my lip balm with me wherever I go. I am drinking more water and it’s already healing up, but it reminds me to take better care as the season changes. I had my winter tires put on a few days ago and it’s time to also winterize myself.

Part of this winterization ritual is easy: rooting through the closet to find all the toques, gloves, hats, mitts, boots and scarves that will serve to be the options for the day, depending on what’s going on outside. Trust me, it is better to go find these things now than when you are running late for work, open the door and come face to face with old man winter the first time. Better grab your snow brush and ice scraper too, if you haven’t already.

As I already mentioned, your body will begin to feel the effects of the drier air, and your skin is the hardest hit. You will need a good lip balm or a petroleum jelly tube to pack around. You’ll also need moisturizer for your face and hands. Your fingers will start to dry and crack if you don’t, and those cracks at the fingernails are brutal.

We are already getting way less vitamin D as well, because not only do we get less sunlight due to the angle of the earth, but our skin doesn’t get exposed to it to manufacture vitamin D, because it is too cold out. So that means either taking a vitamin D supplement, or hopping in a tanning bed for a short burst once or twice a week. No, not enough to have skin concerns or turn into a leather purse, but enough to just stimulate your skin to make the vitamin.

Yes, if you can holiday down south, great! Congratulations, I am happy for you. There are also full spectrum lights you can get to help with SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). Vitamin D plays a huge role in our immune system function, so again, it is important to address this problem in our part of the world.

Get to the gym or go for a walk (or run). It’s too cold now to play in the lake, and cycling is getting harder for sure. I still run outside, but it’s time to increase your activity by going inside for a great workout. This will keep your system running optimally and help you combat the winter blues that are headed this way.

Of course, with more hours spent inside, colder weather, and less sunlight, comes an increase in colds and flu. So wash your hands frequently, avoid sick people, and if you are sick, for the love of Pete, stay home! Take a few days off and get better instead of spreading that nasty cold around. You don’t need to become a germaphobe, but wiping off the phone, door knobs and things everyone touches can help too.

Winter can be a lot of fun if you are prepared for it. I am already enjoying the indoor cycling classes, swimming pool and bootcamp and am excited to strap on my snowshoes and run around the lake once it’s frozen!

Happy Training!

Scott McDermott