Changing Seasons, Changing Habits

(December 2009)

The holidays are upon us. The transition from rainy fall days to winter snow is nearly complete. Your body has the amazing capacity to easily adapt to this new environment. However, keep in mind that your workout schedule, diet, sleep, and even skincare routine need to change with the seasons. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Stay well hydrated

You may think that you can reduce your water intake once the temperatures drop, but that is a myth! Proper hydration, regardless of the season, will help to keep your skin healthy, and help you recover from your workouts more easily. Aim for seven glasses daily if not exercising, and consume no more than 10 total. Remember, for each ounce of coffee, caffeinated soda, or alcohol you consume, you must drink an equal amount of water to keep you balanced.

Cook and eat seasonally

Cooking and eating for the appropriate season can assure you get the nutrients needed to keep you healthy during the winter. Apples, pumpkin, squash, zucchini, and corn are key ingredients. It's also time to revert back to hearty soups and stews, full of nutrients. Try adding a Swiss chard or kale to your next soup or stew. If you juice, put the pulp into the stew - you'll increase the fiber content and never taste the recycled pulp. Make dishes colorful, as each color represents a different group of nutrients. Gravy, sauces, and salad dressings are NOT colors.

Take care of your skin

Summer sun can leave skin cracked, rough, and dry. The winter cold only makes this worse. Use lotions with shea butter or almond oil, as these will moisturize and leave your skin feeling soft and smooth. Petroleum-containing lotions may provide immediate relief, but actually dry out your skin long-term. Look for shea butter products with calendula, honey, or vitamin E added. Salves are thicker preparations that sooth worn elbows and knees. And don't forget facial moisturizer and non-petroleum lip balm before leaving the house in the morning - Chicago winds can wreak havoc on our fragile faces.


The transition to more indoor activities can be challenging, especially if you don't like going to the gym. Consider yoga or Pilates classes. For those who like to use the gym all year round, investigate different classes to add some variety to your routine. Exercise is an excellent way to combat winter 'blahs' and Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). Aim to exercise at least four times per week for a minimum of 45 minutes. (*See story below to learn more about SAD)


Energy levels and sleep patterns often shift with the seasons. It seems easy to get tired earlier given that darkness sets in by about 5 pm. Proper sleep is essential for looking and feeling your best all day, and may even help to boost your immune system to fight off colds or the flu. Bed maintenance is key: Invest in some new pillows or bedding if you haven't in a while. Essential oils such as lavender or Neroli (bitter orange) can help you wind down after a long day.

Stay connected

The cold and inclement weather makes it very tempting to stay inside and hibernate for the winter, which can make us feel cut off and isolated. Take special care during the winter months to stay connected with family and friends, and plan get-togethers or outings. Just remember to bundle up!

Contributed by Michelle Rogers, ND, MS

To schedule an appointment with Michelle Rogers, ND, MS and find out more about staying healthy this winter call 312-276-1212 or email:

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- Rumi