Winter Happenings

My favorite seasons are definitely summer and fall, but I am trying to embrace winter and focus on the wonderful moments it brings us. As much as I love the sun and clear roads, the snow and time inside allow us to explore options we are less likely to pursue in the summer. While winter is the worst time to run, it is my favorite time to snowshoe and swim. I also do a lot more baking and cooking because I don't mind sacrificing outdoor time for time in the kitchen. 

Snowshoeing is a great exercise for both you and your dog. Cassie and I go snowshoeing frequently, and she always comes back exhausted. It allows us to explore new areas and enjoy nature. Today we saw a fox multiple times! Cassie also decided to dig a hole big enough to shove her whole face in... Maybe she thought she found the fox!

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Swimming is another activity I shy away from in the summer because I'd rather be outside. However, climbing in an 82 degree pool isn't too bad when the temperatures outside are below freezing. Plus, it's an excuse to buy a new bathing suit in January and makes you feel like you are on vacation in the tropics! 

I also purchased an aqua jogging belt, so I can run in the pool. Aqua jogging is running in the deep end of a pool. It is a great form of cardiovascular exercise and is very low impact on your joints - great for runners that want to cross train! 

People say aqua jogging and swimming laps are boring, but you just have to mix it up - similar to making the treadmill interesting. Doing the same thing for 30+ minutes with no scenery change and no change in effort IS boring. However, if you adjust your effort level or switch up your stroke every few laps, then the time goes by very quickly. I really like using my pull buoy to mix it up too. You place the pull buoy between your knees, so you can only swim with your arms. This is a great way to rest your legs. 

Here are some of my recent water workouts. Each one takes about 30-40 minutes. If I have time, I like to do one aqua jogging and one swimming workout. Note the aqua jogging workouts are also good running workouts!

  • Aqua Jogging (each with a 10 minute easy warm up and 10 minute easy cool down)
    • 15 times 30 seconds hard and 30 seconds easy
    • 10 times 1 minute hard and 30 seconds easy
    • 8 times 2 minutes hard and 1 minute easy
    • 5 times 3 minutes hard and 1 minute easy
    • If you are good at keeping track of time, you can also do a ladder workout: 1, 2, 3, 4, 3, 2, 1 minute(s) hard followed by 1-2 minutes easy between each.
  • Swimming (each with 200 meters easy freestyle and 200 meters easy with pull buoy before and after for warm up and cool down)
    • 10 times 25 meters hard and 25 meters easy
    • 8 times 50 meters hard with 10-15 seconds rest
    • 5-6 times 100 meters moderate with 20 seconds rest

Finally, I love my increased time in the kitchen during the winter. We recently got an Instant Pot, and it is amazingly fast! There is a little bit of a learning curve, but it has many functions and leads to easy clean up. Soups and stews that typically take hours of simmering can be made in a matter of minutes. Meals such as chili that I used to only make on the weekends, I can now make during the week because it's so much more convenient. Here is a before and after shot of this Spicy Peanut Soup with Sweet Potato + Kale

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I also baked some Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins the other day. YUM! These were a combination of whole wheat flour, cinnamon, maple syrup, butter, eggs, pumpkin, and chocolate chips. The smell of this type of food cooking in your oven makes your house smell incredible!

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You can't stop and smell the roses in the winter, but you can stop and take a deep breath. Take in the views, be thankful for what you have, be present, and dream big. 

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