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10 Ways to Get Your Butt Off the Couch This Winter

It's that time of year again when the days get shorter and the nights get longer. It's often easier to stay warm and cozy in your bed than thrust yourself out into the wet cold day. However, when you stay locked inside during the winter months, you can create a mild depression that some call the "winter blues." Simply pushing yourself outside may be just the trick. But sometimes we need the motivation to do so. Here are 10 ways to balance your winter self, and helpful hints to get your butt off the couch this winter.

A Family Walking Together

  1. Woman RunningExercise. A brisk walk/run, a bike ride to the grocery store, or a nice long swim at your city gym will do the trick. Psychologist James Blumenthal, PhD, and colleagues at Duke University have carried out several systematic studies of patients diagnosed with major depression. They used two treatment conditions of exercise and medication. They compared patients' response to aerobic exercise only, psychotropic medication only, or a combination of the two. After 4-1/2 months of treatment, patients who received any of the treatments were significantly less depressed. About two-thirds were no longer depressed. In a follow-up study by psychologist Michael Babyak and colleagues, these same patients were contacted six months after the original study. Patients in the exercise group were more likely to be partly or fully recovered than those who were in the medication or medication plus exercise group. So suffice to say, research suggests that the more you exercise the least likely you are to sulk on your couch.
  2. SaladEat a healthy diet. What you eat can certainly affect how you feel. Attending holiday parties during the winter seasons can cause you to eat more and less healthily. Try to stay away from refined/processed foods. Sugar, rice, and white breads can steal your energy from you, causing you to feel tired and sluggish. These foods also lack nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Give your body an energy boost by consuming complex carbohydrates. Drink plenty of water (8 cups a day) and eat foods like vegetables, fruits, and whole wheat breads. These foods contain nutrients that will stabilize your blood sugar and increase your levels of energy.
  3. Sun exposure. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that seems to be related to the amount of daylight to which people are exposed. It's found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as "a specifier of major depression." During the winter seasons you can get the lack of vitamin D blues simply by not exposing yourself to enough sunlight. Experts suggest going outside for 10 minutes in the midday sun. This will give you enough radiation to produce about 10,000 international units of vitamin D. You can also eat foods high in vitamin D. Most dairy, salmon, and eggs, as well as fortified foods such as orange juice and soy milk are all high in vitamin D. Shitake mushrooms, of all things, also contain some vitamin D.
  4. The benefits of socializing. Friends and family are such a great resource for keeping you connected and active. Take advantage of the opportunity to socialize with loved ones during the winter months. Going to parties, meeting up for a hot cup of coffee, or catching a movie with a friend are all great ways to keep you from getting lonesome. Maybe even be courageous and join a meet-up group where you can connect with people with similar interests.
  5. Man and Woman Jumping in the SnowCommit to follow through with resolutions. New Years is a time when we all decide what needs to go and what can stay. It’s typically a time when we all make a long list of "shoulds" that we rarely follow through with. Studies show that only one in five people follow through with resolutions for longer than a 2-year period. The reason being is that the more stressful life becomes the harder it is to follow through with resolutions. In a study posted in the Journal of Consumer Research, subjects were asked to complete a challenging mental task, memorizing a seven-digit number, while others were asked to remember only two digits. When the same subjects were later given a choice between eating a delicious piece of chocolate cake or a healthy fruit salad, those who had memorized seven digits were more likely to choose the cake, suggesting their brains were too fatigued to curb the desire for instant gratification. So when it comes to following through with your New Year's resolutions make sure you are setting reasonable goals and also living a balanced lifestyle that will allow you to achieve those goals.
  6. Celebrate the season. One great thing about this time of year is there are plenty of opportunities for you to get off your butt. How about picking up a new winter sport like ice hockey, skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating? Take advantage of the season. It only is here for a little while. Just because the holiday season is over, doesn't mean you can spend the rest of winter as a Grinch. After all, the fire is so frightful but the weather is so delightful . . . or something like that.
  7. Woman and Man ExercisingFind a workout buddy. Having trouble sticking to your workout? Find a partner who can keep you motivated and accountable. On days you are stuck to the couch maybe they can inspire you to take a jog and visa versa. Sometimes two heads are really better than one. According to the "Kohler Effect" people tend to have more success in achieving goals if they have a workout partner who challenges them. So when picking a workout buddy, make sure it is someone who can really motivate you to achieve or surpass your goals.
  8. Woman and Man RestingGet proper amounts of rest. How is resting going to get your butt off the couch this winter? Well let me tell you. Due to our natural circadian rhythms of synching with our environment, in the wintertime we require more sleep because there is less sunlight. Make sure you are getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night to avoid waking up exhausted. Synching your waking time with the rising of the sun will give you the most benefits of lining up with your environment. Also make sure that you are relaxing and slowing down once the sun sets. You will be surprised how much energy you have to face your day once you RISE AND SHINE!
  9. Vow to take on a new adventure each week. Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Do one thing every day that scares you." Now you don’t actually have to thrust yourself out of a plane in order to get your butt off the couch this winter. There is however, something to be said about going out and trying new things. For example, learning how to samba could expand your horizons on many levels. You are getting your heart rate up, you are meeting new people and you are making yourself a tad bit more interesting. There is a great movie with Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman called The Bucket List. It's about two men who are at the end of their lives and decide to make the best of their last days. I think they are really on to something. So why wait 'til you're at the end of your life to start your adventure? Make a list today and start checking it off week by week. You will find your life is a lot less monotonous and a whole lot more fun.
  10. Woman in Fighting StanceControl your thoughts. I'm not going to get "New Agey" on you, but I do believe that when you control your thoughts you change your world. Cognitive behavioral psychologists believe that thoughts occur first, then they lead to particular emotions that, in turn, elicit a behavior. In a study to examine the effects of both positive and negative self-talk on sports performance, Dagrou, Gauvin, and Halliwell (1992) had undergraduate students attempt dart throws, randomly assigned them to self-talk conditions, then had them complete another group of dart throws. Results indicated that subjects who were asked to verbalize positive self-talk performed significantly better on the next group of dart throws than controlled-condition subjects, who performed significantly better than subjects who were asked to verbalize negative self-talk. Dagrou concluded that self-talk influences sports performance such that positive self-talk is associated with better performance than negative self-talk. You can control your thoughts in many ways: positive affirmation, music, books, seminars, and the people you surround yourself with. Keep the content that surrounds you upbeat and positive. When your thoughts are positive you are more likely to get off your butt and into the big beautiful world.

It sometimes takes a little more effort during the winter months to motivate yourself. But I'm convinced it is attainable. Putting a conscious effort toward your health and happiness is a must. If you follow these easy steps, you may just have a blast getting off your butt this winter.


  • Babyak, M. A., Blumenthal, J. A., Herman, S., Khatri, P., Doraiswamy, P. M., Moore, K. A., Craighead, W. E., Baldewicz, T. T., & Krishnan, K. R. (2000). Exercise treatment for major depression: Maintenance of therapeutic benefit at 10 months. Psychosomatic Medicine, Vol. 62. pp. 633-638.
  • Blumenthal, J. A., Babyak, M.A., Moore, K. A., Craighead, W. E., Herman, S., Khatri, P., Waugh, R., Napolitano, M. A., Forman, L. M., Appelbaum, M., Doraiswamy, P. M., & Krishnan, K. R. (1999). Effects of exercise training on older patients with major depression. Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 159. pp. 2349-2356.
  • North, T. C., P. McCullagh, and Z. V. Tran. (1990). Effect of exercise on depression. Exercise and Sport Sciences Reviews Vol. 18. pp. 379-415.
  • Beauchemin, K. M. & Hays, P. (1996) Sunny hospital rooms expedite recovery from severe and refractory depression. Journal of Affective Disorders, 40, 49-51.
  • Lam, R. W. (1998) Seasonal affective disorder: diagnosis and management. Primary Care Psychiatry, 4, 63-74.
  • Shiv, Baba & Fedorikhin, Alexander, 1999. Heart and Mind in Conflict: The Interplay of Affect and Cognition in Consumer Decision Making, Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 26(3), pages 278-92, December.
  • Hertel, Guido; Kerr, Norbert L; Messe, Lawrence A. Revisiting the Kohler effect: Does diversity enhance motivation and performance in groups? Psychologische Beiträge. Pabst Science Publishers Title Acct. 1999. HighBeam Research. 14 Dec. 2011 http://www.highbeam.com.
  • Cork! the Effects of Positive and Negative Self-Talk on Dart Throwing Performance. Judy L. Van Raalte, Britton W. Brewer, Brian P. Lewis, Darwyn E. Linder, Gregg Wildman, Johnathon Kozimor; Journal of Sport Behavior, Vol. 18, 1995.

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3 Steps to Beating Your Head Cold This Season

By Sarah Stevenson

A wise man should consider that health is the greatest of human blessings, and learn how by his own thought to derive benefit from his illnesses.

Head colds can be a real challenge for me. On one hand, I have no time to deal with a bout of sniffling, sneezing, and aching. On the other hand, I just can't take cold medications due to my subtle system and small frame. Because of this, I've learned how to remedy my illness as quickly as possible without doping up. It turns out you can indeed beat the oh-so-dreadful symptoms of a head cold by really getting to know your mind and body. Here are my three steps.

Two Women Sneezing

  1. Keep yourself from getting sick in the first place.
    Part of the cure is to prevent the illness from growing in the body in the first place. One of the most common ways we get sick is when we let our guard down and allow stress to overtake our lives. Stress is the number one cause for contracting an illness. The winter season can be a incredibly stressful time filled with traveling plans, over-committing, financial stresses, weather changes, and more. One of the best ways to ward off stress during the wintertime is to pace yourself and make sure you . . .

    Woman ExercisingExercise. David C. Nieman from Appalachian State University reports numerous amounts of research supporting the theory that moderate exercise causes a positive increase in immunity and a reduction in upper-respiratory illness. During and up to 3 hours after you exercise there is an increase in production and circulations of immunities that fight against illness. This study also shows that as exercise continues on a near-daily basis for 12 to 15 weeks, the subjects are 25 to 50 percent least likely to develop upper-respiratory illness compared to those with inactivity. The conclusion being that maintaining leanness and a physically active lifestyle reduces inflammation, an underlying factor in multiple chronic diseases.

    Walking is man's best medicine.
    —again with the Hippocrates

    Eat right/boost up your vitamins. Eating healthy foods filled with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants will keep your body healthy inside and out. The three main immunity-building vitamins you want to consume are vitamin E, vitamin C, and beta-carotene (vitamin A); antioxidant minerals, include zinc and selenium. One thing that foods high in antioxidants share is vibrant color (purple, yellow, green, red, orange, and blue). Foods high in vitamin E include carrots, mangoes, nuts, red peppers, spinach, papaya, and broccoli. Foods filled with vitamin C include berries, broccoli, cantaloupe, cauliflower, grapefruit, honeydew, kale, kiwi, nectarines, oranges, peppers, sweet potatoes, strawberries, and tomatoes. Beta-carotene is found in foods such as apricots, asparagus, beets, broccoli, cantaloupe, carrots, corn, green peppers, kale, mangoes, turnip, collard greens, nectarines, peaches, pink grapefruit, pumpkin, squash, spinach, sweet potatoes, tangerines, tomatoes, and watermelons.

    Woman SleepingGet plenty of rest. Our bodies and minds are completely dependent on adequate sleep. It is a time when the body can both restore and regenerate antibodies to ward off infections. According to researchers at the University of Tübingen, our bodies organize and regulate during sleep, producing antogens and hormones that fight off disease. These findings indicate a specific role of sleep in the formation of immunological memory. If you are getting appropriate amounts of sleep (approximately 8 hours a night) you are more likely to remain healthy.

    Avoid catching others germs. Infections grow when germs multiply. Regardless of how great your immune system is, it's important that you are helping it out by keeping germs away from you or killing them quickly once they are around. This statement was released from the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention: "Keeping hands clean through improved hand hygiene is one of the most important steps we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others. Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water. If clean, running water is not accessible, as is common in many parts of the world, use soap and available water. If soap and water are unavailable, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol to clean hands."
  2. If you are sick, speed up the healing process.
    When your body is weighted down with an unfriendly virus it is important that you do all you can to help in the healing process. A speedy recovery is your sure way to avoid the exhausting, seemingly endless symptoms of the common cold.

    To do nothing is also a good remedy.
    —yet more Hippocrates

    Rest. Rest can help keep us from getting sick but it can also help us heal more quickly. Make sure you are getting a good night's sleep, adequate enough to heal your body. Researchers from Harvard Medical School suggest avoiding caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, and other chemicals that interfere with sleep. They recommend you turn your bedroom into a "sleep inducing environment." A quiet, dark, and cool environment can help promote sound slumber. Establish a soothing pre-sleep routine: Ease the transition from wake time to sleep time with a period of relaxing activities an hour or so before bed. And to be sure to keep your internal clock set with a consistent sleep schedule.

    Woman Drinking WaterDrink plenty of fluids. Increasing the amount of fluids you consume in a day's time will help to flush out any toxins in your system that seem to by hijacking your health. According to The Mayo Clinic, when you are sick it is recommended to increase the amount of fluids you consume, particularly water. Drink approximately 9 glasses a day to ensure you are cleansing your system.

    Boost up your vitamins. Give yourself the extra help it needs. Take advantage of all the nutrients you can at this time. Your foods and vitamins are your allies in health. The Mayo Clinic says there is no "cure" for the common cold but increasing your vitamins and minerals will certainly shorten the length of a cold and build up your immune system so you can fight germs in the future.

    Woman MeditatingKeep a positive attitude. Keep your chin up, kiddo. Research suggests that having an optimistic outlook towards the everyday challenges of life leads to increased health, peace of mind, and a longer life. The Mayo Clinic reported a study involving 800 people that were observed for over 30 years after completing a personality test that indicated their attitude to life. The pessimists were found to have almost 20 percent more likelihood of dying early than the optimists. A follow-up study of 7,000 participants showed that out of every 100 participants, the 25 most pessimistic, anxious, and depressed had a 30 percent greater chance of dying young, compared with the most optimistic, least anxious, and least depressed 25 in the group. The optimists in the Mayo surveys said they had fewer health problems and fewer difficulties with work or daily routines. They experienced less pain, had more energy, were comfortable in social situations, and enjoyed social activities. The optimistic study participants also said they were generally happier, calmer, and more peaceful than their pessimistic counterparts. So needless to say, a positive outlook is a healthier outlook.
  3. Woman SmilingPrevent yourself from relapsing.
    How many times have you started feeling great after a long cold and on the first day out you find yourself returning home to fight the illness once again? So incredibly frustrating. But so incredibly avoidable.

    Continue your speedy recovery routine.
    • Adequate rest
    • Drinking plenty of fluids
    • Boost up your vitamin intake with supplements and food
    • Stay positive

    Pace yourself. Baby steps. Instead of heading out for your 10-mile run that you normally accomplish 5 days a week, maybe try a nice 2-mile walk and see how you feel. Once you’ve caught a cold, intense exercise can make symptoms worse or even cause relapse. Scientists from the University of Illinois reported a study in which included two groups of rodents. The first group were infected with a flu virus and remained sedentary until the virus was gone. The second group were infected with a flu virus and exercised while sick. In general—and "this is true in both mice and men," says Jeffrey A. Woods (one of scientist involved in the study)—he found the mice who had the flu virus and exercised developed an overabundance of helper cells. This overabundance killed off the virus fighting cells so they remained ill for a much longer period of time unlike the non-active mice who were able to heal quicker. In essence, too much activity when infected with a virus can be detrimental to health and recovery.

If you're like me and have neither the time nor patience to deal with a cold this winter, then you are going to have to stay on top of your health. Stay vigilant of your daily activities and make sure they are helping not harming your health. If you do happen to get a cold, make sure you are giving yourself a chance at a speedy recovery. Do your best to avoid relapsing once you start feeling better and you have a great chance at enjoying a safe, happy, healthy winter.


  • Moderate Exercise Improves and Decreases Illness Rates, David C. Nieman Department of Health and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, North Carolina, AMERICAN JOURNAL OF LIFESTYLE MEDICINE July/August 2011 vol. 5 no. 4 338-345.
  • Effects of sleep and circadian rhythm on the human immune system. Lange T, Dimitrov S, Born J. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2010 Apr; 1193:48-59.
  • Center For Disease Control and Prevention: http://www.cdc.gov/
  • Exercise stress increases susceptibility to influenza infection. Murphy EA, Davis JM, Carmichael MD, Gangemi JD, Ghaffar A, Mayer EP. Brain Behav Immun. 2008 Nov; 22(8):1152-5. Epub 2008 Jun 21.
  • Healthy Sleep: Understanding the third of our lives we so often take for granted. Web site, the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, © 2008.
  • Mayo Clinic. How Much Water Should You Drink? It Depends. ScienceDaily, 11 Aug. 2007. Web. 2 Jan. 2012.
  • Brummett BH, et al. Prediction of all-cause mortality by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory Optimism-Pessimism Scale scores: Study of a college sample during a 40-year follow-up period. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. 2006;81:1541.
  • Brydon L, et al. Dispositional optimism and stress-induced changes in immunity and negative mood. Brain, Behavior, and Immunity. 2009;23:810.
  • Exercise and Respiratory Tract Viral Infections. Martin, Stephen A., Pence, Brandt D.Woods, Jeffrey A.Exercise & Sport Sciences Reviews: October 2009 - Volume 37 - Issue 4 - pp 157-164.

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Questions about your workout program, diet, the latest newsletter, or anything wellness related? Check the Team Beachbody Chat Room for the next impromptu video chat.

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

Check out our Fitness Advisor's responses to your comments in The Beachbody Mailbag on the Message Boards. If you'd like to receive The Beachbody Mailbag by email, click here to subscribe.

And if you'd like to know more about Beachbody Director of Results Steve's views on fitness, nutrition, and outdoor sports, read his blog, The Straight Dope, named one of the Top 50 blogs covering the sports industry by the Masters in Sports Administration.

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Recipe: Blueberry Buckle

Recommended by P90X® nutritionist Carrie Wiatt

Blueberry Buckle
Here's a delicious yet sensible dessert recipe that contains the healthy fiber of oats, the antioxidant properties of blueberries, and the crunchy goodness of almonds . . . plus it tastes great!

  • 2/3 cup uncooked steel-cut oats
  • 1/2 cup raw blueberries
  • 1 Tbsp. slivered almonds
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Optional: 1 tsp. honey or raw sugar, or a pinch of stevia

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients in a glass baking dish and mix well. Bake for 20 minutes (or microwave on high for 1-1/2 minutes). Makes one generous serving.

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 20 minutes

Nutritional Information: (per serving, without sweetener)

Calories Protein Fiber Carbs Fat Total Saturated Fat
291 10 g 9 g 51 g 8 g < 1 g

If you'd like to ask a question or comment on this newsletter article, click here to add a comment in the newsletter review section or you can email us at mailbag@beachbody.com.

P90X® and P90X2® Portion Information

Nutritional Information: (per serving)

Carb (or Grain) Fruit
1 1

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