Winter Survival Guide for 2014's Polar Vortex.

Let me start by stating the obvious--This winter has been brutal, no matter where in the US you're living--from ice throughout the South to the massive snow and cold we've gotten in the North, to the draught in California, it hasn't been a fun one for anyone out there (I am choosing to ignore those of you in Miami or Phoenix).  In Grand Haven, where we live currently, it's been particularly brutal.  I think the last snowfall count for the winter is somewhere around 120 inches--we have a path shoveled out for the dogs and it easily tops 3 feet.  Add to that the arctic temperatures and you've got some pretty intense cabin fever style scenario.  

Today when I was leaving the gym, though, I was thinking about how Spring is coming and how the sun is out and I had a moment of thinking "Wow! We've MADE it! We're into the homestretch."  Now, that emotion might have been fueled by the fact that I just had a great workout or that the sun was shining or that I had a full work day planned--who knows--but it's been a tough winter and I wanted to acknowledge a few of the coping mechanisms I've used to get through it--maybe they'll help a few of you too! Also, what are your strategies for beating the winter blues or just making it through this season?  I would love some more ideas!

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1) Sorel 1964 Winter Boots:  These were by far the best purchase I have made probably in the past 10 years, with the exception of my camera gear, obviously.  I always describe my feelings about winter as "that time of the year when your feet are always cold and wet."--No more! Now I have winter boots! I've never had a pair of Sorel's before this winter and I can honestly say that without them, I would have been lost. They let me take the dogs for walks through the woods and go to the grocery store with dry feet.  It's a lifechanger in the most pragmatic way.

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2) The West Wing:  In the Fall I was binge watching Gossip Girl.  This winter I'm taking a more upscale approach and have been binge watching The West Wing.  Now, I've watched The West Wing as a series all the way through at least 4 times, so this isn't particularly new, but this show is just so, so, so good.  I end each episode wanting to marry both Allison Janney and Rob Lowe for totally different reasons and shaking my head at Toby's insistently rude and genius ways.  Re-watching this year also encouraged me to get the old Huck Ziegler Twitter account up and running away.  

3) Lululemon Wunder Under Leggings:  Working from home I don't really need to go out or get dressed up, and sometimes that can be good, but other times it's bad--it will be 2 or 3pm and I'm still in my ratty pajamas.  The Wunder Under legging has stopped that--now I can wear this lovely legging all day and feel at least somewhat human and dressed.  It's an essential.

4) The Tri Cities YMCA:  Those of you have talked to me or Ian recently know one thing--we are really, really, really into the gym.  Like 3 hours a day sort of situation.  Like I write down my workouts.  Like sometimes I go 2 times a day. Like I know all the lifegaurds' names and know what time of the day the weight room is empty.  Uggg. I'm that person.  The Y has been a total lifesaver this winter.  It gets me out of the house early in the morning and I am able to catch up on all my Olympic news, run treadmill miles, swim laps, and lift.  AND there is a sauna where I spend at least 15 minutes a day fantasizing that it's summer again.  I have a few fitness and race goals for the summer, which I'll share soon, but thank goodness for the YMCA.  I'm even ok with the fact that all the old people do is talk about the weather.  

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5) Grapefruit:  I know, I keep talking about grapefruit, but I truly 100% believe that it has healing properties--both physical and mental.  I drink 2 glasses of grapefruit juice a morning and last week we went through 25 lbs of grapefruit in a matter of 7 days.  It's just so darn good.  It also tastes like summer.  True story. 

6) Walks in the woods:  The sun has come out, I think, 5 times since December (today being one of those days), but I have been forcing myself to take as many walks in the woods as possible this winter.  Being outside and breathing in fresh air, despite the dreary skies or the frozen temperatures makes me feel intensely better almost immediately.  Plus our backyard is a forest...which is a whole lot better than what it used to be, which was an alley and a train track. Thus, I need to take full advantage of this benefit as much as possible. 

7) Oil Pulling:  Oil pulling? Yeah. Oil pulling.  It's fan-flipping-tastic.  And I totally believe it works.  Basically it's an ancient remedy from India and it is meant to pull toxins and bacteria from your mouth, add moisture to your mouth and in general create a fulling functional, clean, and pure body.  It's super simple--every morning, preferably before coffee, you "pull" oil for 15-20 minutes.  That means you put about a teaspoon of oil (any oil works, but I use coconut oil) in your mouth and swish it around and around and around.  It whitens your teeth too!  Then you spit the oil out and go along with your day.  There is all sorts of proof that it speeds of your metabolism too, but in the 4 months I've been doing it, I've noticed a definitely whiter smile and a general feeling of good mouth jou jou.  Seriously. Try it. It's awesome. 

8) Greens indoors:  As I've stated many times, we have a lot of snow in Grand Haven.  There are many times when I truly do not believe it will ever melt and I find myself thinking about how it will still be snow covered when we return in May and how when Dale wants to come over to paint on our porch while we drink coffee, he will have to put on snow boots and dig his way over...Now, I know that isn't true, but it feels that way! So, I've started to fill the house with as much greenery as possible--paperwhites, evergreen boughs, roses, hyacinth, you name it.  My office area is starting to look more like a green house than an editing station, but that's the way I like it.  I am also in the process of separating and repotting my jade plant and snake plant too and hope that those will take and become beautiful little siblings.  Stay tuned.