A Mother’s Diet Can Affect Her Baby for Life

Pregnant Woman Holding Baby JumperMost expectant mothers are aware of how important it is to eat healthy during their pregnancy. But, do you realize how critical getting enough vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients is for the healthy development of a fetus?

A nutrient-poor diet won’t just affect fetal development; it could set your child up for a lifetime of future health issues.

Diet Affects Your Baby from Conception

According to this 2014 London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine study nutritional deficiencies, even at the time of conception, can permanently alter your baby’s genes. The report, published in Nature Communications, is the first that finds an environmental factor in the earliest days of fetal development can cause long-term alterations in DNA.

This doesn’t mean that the genetic code itself was changed. What the researchers discovered was that diet had an effect on whether the six particular genes they studied were turned on or off – in the earliest stages of fetal development.

B Vitamins can be Critical to Baby’s Development

A unique chemical tag that influences whether a gene is activated or not is called methylation. The amount of methylation observed in each of the six genes they looked at depended on just a few B vitamins and the nutrients that accompany them.

The scientists couldn’t figure out precisely which B vitamins and other nutrients had the most significant effect, but, when the mother’s blood had low levels of vitamin B2 and several other nutrients, the genes they examined had less methylation.

According to Andrew Prentice, a nutritionist who contributed to this study, the vitamin levels in the women who participated in the study weren’t exceptionally low. If a doctor examined the test-subject’s blood samples, he would say that the vitamin levels were normal.

Besides vitamin B levels, they also discovered that a mother’s body mass index (BMI) also influences how genes are expressed. The fatter you are, the less methylation of the baby’s genes. Same as with vitamin B, none of the mothers in the study were overweight – but women with a higher BMI had babies with less methylation of their genes.

What Type of Food and How Much of it

During pregnancy, what type of food and how much of it is crucially important for the healthy development and overall health of your baby.

Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommendations are that a pregnant woman should eat between 2200 and 2900 calories per day, on average. They should also only gradually increase calorie intake as the pregnancy progresses.

A study in the May 2010 Biology of Reproduction lists the negative impact poor nutrition can have on fetal development and health. The conclusion is that undernourishment during pregnancy will slow the baby’s growth and can result in an underweight child at birth. Low birth weight babies can have an increased chance of developing health issues later in life, like:

  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure
  • Neurological problems

However, it still isn’t clear why poor nutrition before birth and a low birth weight increases the odds of experiencing these problems later on.

The Balance of Dietary Nutrients

Pregnant Woman holding a dollMaintaining a healthy balance of dietary nutrients is also critical to the healthy development of your baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, a pregnant woman should eat at least 71 grams of protein. Lisa S. Brown, PhD, RD recommends around 175 grams of carbohydrate and 13 grams of healthy fats like plant-based oils and moderate quantities of other fats.

According to a 2015 animal study in the NIH journal, Nutrients, researchers found that low protein intake during pregnancy will adversely affect the baby’s birth weight, blood pressure, brain weight, and metabolism compared to normally fed test-animals.

Vitamins and Minerals During Pregnancy

Getting the right number of vitamins and minerals during pregnancy is essential to ensure your baby’s health and development.

Although research has failed to associate a deficiency in any particular vitamin with fetal health issues in human beings, animal studies have suggested that vitamin deficiency can have serious implications for the baby’s long-term health.

  • A vitamin C deficiency may result in abnormal heart development
  • Low vitamin A levels could slow the rate that cells divide, interfering with heart, lung and liver development
  • A deficiency in vitamin D may slow growth and the healthy development of bones
  • Low vitamin K intake could impact the development of the face and teeth

While a growing fetus needs all the B vitamins; folate is essential. Folate deficiency is associated with spina bifida, which causes abnormal development of the fetal spinal cord and vertebral column. Minerals like calcium, zinc, iron, and iodine are also essential for the fetus (and mother), to ensure a healthy pregnancy and prevent premature birth and low birth weight.

Mother’s Diet During Pregnancy Influences Baby’s Food Preferences

There are studies that suggest a more mature fetus is capable of experiencing tastes and smells in the womb. At seven months, a fetus’s taste buds are fully formed, and even the baby’s sense of smell appears to be functional.

Food flavors experienced by the mother will find their way into the amniotic fluid that’s continually swallowed by the fetus. A 2000 experiment appears to confirm that babies can remember and prefer the taste of foods the mother ate during pregnancy after they’re born.

What You Can Do

Father Kissing Prego BellyBacteria can have a devastating impact on you and your baby’s health. You must protect yourself and the baby from harmful bacteria like salmonella, E. coli, and listeria. Any one of these bacteria can potentially cause miscarriage or preterm delivery. Pregnant women should avoid soft cheeses containing unpasteurized milk, raw or undercooked poultry, meats, eggs, and seafood. Other precautions include keeping your refrigerator below 40 degrees Fahrenheit and throwing away leftovers that have been at room temperature for more than two hours.

Get more calcium. Try to get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day; the baby needs it for proper bone and tooth development during the second and third trimesters. Also, without enough calcium in the diet, your baby will begin to absorb it from your bones; increasing the risk of osteoporosis later in life.

Increase your iron intake. Your iron requirement almost doubles during pregnancy. Expectant mothers should get around 30 milligrams of iron every day. This will support the typical 50 percent increase in blood volume during pregnancy and will promote fetal iron storage. Iron is how the body transports oxygen, and the fetus will benefit from the healthy supply sufficient iron levels will bring.

DHA is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in the brain and eyes. Consuming enough of this nutrient (found in seafood and flaxseed) is critical to ensure you and your growing baby’s health. DHA can boost the fetus’s brain development before birth, and ensure

  • Better vision
  • Memory
  • Motor skills
  • Language development during early childhood

Try to eat at least 12 ounces of seafood per week or use a DHA supplement from a reputable vitamin company to reap the health benefits of this essential fatty acid. Remember eat well for your life and your coming child.

Cheese… A Superfood?

10 Fantastic Benefits of Eating Cheese

Cheese Assortment and WineIt’s a guilty pleasure for a lot of us – a delicious, creamy, savory cheese. This wonderfully flavored dairy product has been accused of causing a plethora of horrible health issues; from heart disease and stroke to obesity.

But, is cheese really bad for you?

Let’s take a look at ten fantastic health benefits of cheese so you can guiltlessly enjoy this holiday and party staple.

  1. Eating Cheese May Reduce Your Risk of Heart Attack
  2. To discover more regarding how cheese consumption over a long period (years) affects someone’s risk for heart disease, researchers from the Netherlands and China analyzed information from 15 observational research studies that included over 200,000 people. All the studies (except one) excluded individuals that had an existing heart condition, and all the studies (except two) tracked individuals for 10 or more years.

    What these researchers discovered is that people who ate high relatively large quantities of cheese had a 14% lower risk of developing heart disease and were also 10% less likely to experience a stroke than people who never or only rarely ate cheese.

  3. Cheese is high in Protein and B Vitamins
  4. Cheese typically has just about as much protein per serving as it does fat. It’s this protein that the body uses to maintain and build cell structures and also signals the body to feel full after a meal. Cheese also provides lots of bone-healthy calcium; cheddar cheese has 200 mg per ounce or almost 20 percent of an individual’s recommended daily intake. It’s also one of the few foods that naturally contain vitamin D. Cheese also provides a significant amount vitamin B12 which helps red blood cell formation and healthy neurological function.

  5. Cheese is Probiotic
  6. Cheese is a fermented food, meaning it contains certain bacteria that are beneficial to our digestive health. Some evidence even suggests that eating cheese will favorably change the microbiota (concentration of bacteria in the gut), acting as a probiotic that may improve the metabolism.

  7. Cheese May Prevent Liver Cancer
  8. Cheese BruschettaIncluding cheese in your diet could stop you from getting liver cancer and even boost liver health. This is according to a recent study from Texas A&M University. The researchers even discovered that aged cheeses like brie and cheddar might potentially boost your life expectancy by as much as 25 percent.

    This could be because aged cheeses contain spermidine, a compound called thought to prevent both liver fibrosis and hepatocellular carcinoma; the most common type of liver cancer.

  9. Cheese May Boost the Immune System
  10. Finnish researchers from the University of Turku found that eating probiotic cheese can prevent the age-related deterioration of the human immune system.

    The scientists asked test-subjects who ranged between 72 and 103 years old, to consume one slice of either a probiotic Gouda cheese or a placebo with breakfast for one month. At the end of the 4-week study period, they discovered that the seniors who ate probiotic cheese instead of the placebo demonstrated a significant strengthening of their immune systems.

  11. It Can Prevent Tooth Decay
  12. A study conducted in 2013 by researchers at the Academy of General Dentistry, concludes that cheese consumption will not only make the mouth more alkaline (and more unfriendly to cavity-causing bacteria) but can also create a protective film on the tooth surface – acting as a barrier to decay.

    The researchers divided 68 children into three separate groups. One group was required to consume a portion of cheese every day, another group ate sugar-free yogurt, and the third group drank a daily glass of milk.

    pH levels were measured both before and after testing (the higher a pH level is above 5.5, the lower the chances of getting cavities) and researchers found that the children who ate cheese demonstrated a rapid rise in pH level while the groups that ate the yogurt or drank milk showed no change at all.

  13. Cheese May Reduce the Risk of Becoming Type II Diabetic
  14. Cheese contains butyrate, and the digestive system needs butyrate to work correctly. Butyrate helps your body maintain the healthy growth of cells that line the gut, making sure that there’s a proper balance between the old cells dying off and the formation of new cells. Butyrate is also the most vital source of energy for these cells.

    A study published in the journal Diabetes concluded that mice that ate feed with added butyrate demonstrated insulin levels that were 50 percent lower than mice that ate regular mouse chow. The researchers theorize that butyrate can help our bodies to more efficiently use insulin and maintain optimal blood-sugar levels.

  15. Cheese Won’t Raise Your Blood Pressure
  16. Assorted Cheeses and Green SalsaIt turns out that cheese’s high sodium content may not be a problem after all. Even though cheese is a high-sodium food, it wasn’t linked to high blood pressure in an analysis of several previous studies.

    The scientists still haven’t figured out exactly why this is the case. But, they think that it may be due to the ingredients in cheese acting synergistically. It looks like the various components and elements in cheese consumed together have much higher importance than either the saturated fat or the sodium. According to the study, calcium also seems to play a protective role by binding with some of the fatty acids in cheese making them indigestible.

  17. You Can Eat Cheese Even if you’re Lactose Intolerant
  18. It doesn’t matter if lactose makes your stomach turn, you can still enjoy certain types of cheese. There are many kinds of cheese that will spare the stomachs of dairy sensitive people, including:

    • Parmesan
    • Cheddar
    • Gouda
    • Swiss
    • Mozzarella
    • Brie

    When these cheeses are made, the production and aging processes eliminate virtually all of the lactose. While a glass of milk will contain about 12 grams of lactose – one ounce of any of these cheeses will provide just less than one gram of this (sometimes hard to digest) milk sugar.

  19. It Tastes Great
  20. Everyone has a favorite cheese; it could be mozzarella melted on a pizza, a slice of Swiss on your burger or a generous slice of Brie – cheese provides a satisfying addition to our diets.

Enjoy the holidays and don’t be afraid to attack the cheeses offered with your meal. It’s healthy, tasty, and can even fill you up quicker, so you don’t over-indulge on sugar-filled treats later.

Why is Fiber Good for You?

Why is fiber good for youWe’ve been hearing about for years now; to stay healthy you need to eat more fiber. According to the current US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, Americans should be eating about 20 to 30 grams of fiber per day, yet most adults won’t even eat half that amount.

Research has shown that eating fiber offers many incredible health benefits, like:

  • Healthier skin: Fiber, especially psyllium husk, can help take fungus and yeast out of the body which could prevent them from being excreted through your skin where they may trigger rashes and acne
  • Digestive health: Dietary fiber may reduce (by up to 40 percent) the risk of developing diverticulitis; the inflammation of polyps in the intestines
  • Keep blood sugar stable: Consuming soluble fiber could help slow the rate that your body breaks down carbohydrates and absorbs sugar, which helps stabilize blood sugar levels
  • Weight control: Supplementing the diet with fiber has been shown to help obese people lose weight (possibly because fiber helps you feel fuller)
  • Prevent colon cancer: Because fiber helps to move waste through the digestive tract, it may help to prevent colon cancer because it keeps the intestines clean and prevent food waste from staying inside long enough to cause problems

While the list of benefits is impressive — most of us still don’t know why fiber is so good for our health. We’re going to fix that by taking a look at what fiber is, where it’s found, and how recent research has uncovered the incredible reasons why eating fiber is so good for you.

What is Fiber?

When food is digested, your body strips out only the nutrients it requires, and dietary fiber is what’s left over.

Dietary fiber comes in two forms: insoluble and soluble.

Insoluble fiber (the fiber that doesn’t dissolve in water) is what bulks up the food as it moves through our digestive system; it also speeds up the rate that it moves through the body. This is essential for individuals who suffer from a slow digestion or are frequently constipated. Insoluble fiber can be found in foods like leafy green veggies, whole-grains, green beans and all kinds of potatoes.

Soluble fiber, which does dissolves in the water in our digestive systems, forms a kind of gel. Unlike insoluble fiber, it slows down the passage of food through the digestive tract so your body can more effectively absorb nutrients. You can get soluble fiber from foods like oats, oat bran, Brussels sprouts, and barley contain lots of soluble fiber. Keep in mind that many fiber-rich foods will contain both types of fiber.

How Fiber is broken down in the Body

What does fiber do in the bodyWhile the human digestive system lacks the necessary enzymes to break down the fiber we eat — that’s not the whole story.

While dietary fiber is indigestible to for humans, our digestive tract is protected by a layer of mucus which hosts a population of hundreds of species of different bacteria. Many of these bacteria do produce the enzymes needed to digest the fiber we eat.

This ability thrive on the fiber humans can’t digest has led researchers to investigate if it’s these microbes that create the health benefits of a fiber-rich diet. Recently published studies in the journal Cell Host and Microbe conclude that those bacteria really are the reason why fiber benefits our health so much.

What Researchers Found Out

Researchers discovered that when mice were placed on a low-fiber/high-fat diet, the population of healthy (probiotic) gut bacteria was drastically reduced.

Another study tried a similar experiment; they evaluated the gut bacteria in mice as they were switched to a low-fiber diet rich in fat and sugar, with only about 20 percent of calories from protein.

The scientists focused on how diverse the bacteria population was in the mouse’s gut, rather than the number of bacteria, like the first study. When the mice were switched to a low-fiber diet, they found that many common bacteria became rare, and formerly rare (and not necessarily healthy) types of bacteria became much more common.

The researchers in both studies also saw the gut health of the mice quickly decline. The animal’s intestines shrank, and the mucus layer became thinner. This brought the bacteria layer closer to the intestinal wall, which began triggering the immune system.

The mice in both studies also experienced chronic gut inflammation followed by weight gain and higher blood sugar levels after a few weeks on the low-fiber/high-fat diet.

What Happened When Fiber was returned to the Diet?

Both teams of researchers also gave another group of mice a high-fat diet along with a moderate amount of a dietary fiber called inulin. This maintained a healthy digestive tract mucus layer compared to the mice that didn’t get any fiber; and this kept the gut bacteria at a safer distance from the intestinal wall.

Mice that received a much higher dose of inulin showed even more impressive results:

Also, while eating a high-fat diet, the mice getting a big dose of inulin had healthy populations of bacteria in their intestines, their gut health was more normal, and they even gained less weight.

Then Some Mice were given a Probiotic Bacteria

Finally, researchers tried adding fiber-feeding bacteria to water that the mice on a high-fat diet drank. This addition improved their health even more. Although they still ate a high-fat diet, the mucus layer in their guts was thicker, which maintained a strong barrier to prevent bacteria from leaking through their intestinal walls.

How to get more Fiber in Your Diet

how to get more fiber in your dietGetting healthy fiber into your diet is simple. Begin by lowering the amount of fat, refined foods, and meats that you eat. Try switching them for high-fiber food items. Include lots of high-fiber foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts, legumes, and seeds.

How could you get up to 37 grams of fiber Every Day?

Now that you know how important it is to eat the recommended daily intake of fiber, here is a sample menu to show you how easy it is to include the fiber you need for optimal health in your diet:

Breakfast: about one cup of bran flakes (5g) and half of a banana (1.5 grams)
Snack: A cup of raspberries (8g)
Lunch: A cup of black bean soup (about 8g)
Dinner: One cup of lentils, split peas or black beans (about 15g)

You don’t need to stop eating any foods to have a high-fiber diet; you just need to learn how to include some new, fiber-rich food into your diet. Considering all the health benefits you’ll enjoy, and the bonus of possibly losing some weight, why wouldn’t you?

Great New Years Resolutions to Improve your Life

January is a funny month – the big holidays are behind us, along with the stress of family gatherings, long-distance travel, and amusing the kids during their winter break. It’s a month that marks the beginning of a new year, and an opportunity to turn over a new leaf.

If you plan on making any resolutions for the New Year, take some inspiration from this list of 12 that you can use to improve your life.

#1 Be More Active

Recent studies have discovered a link between sitting for extended periods and a 50 percent increased risk of death from all causes. Other health problems related to sitting for too long include:

  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Heart disease

Even worse – even when researchers adjusted for time spent engaged in exercise (up to a few hours per week), the people who sat longer still had a higher rate of disease and death than non-exercisers who spent more time standing or walking.

Commit to improving your health in the next year by resolving to stand and walk more rather than the spend most of your time either at a desk or on your sofa.

#2 Start Exercising Regularly

This is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions and one of the best. Although sitting for too long can be bad for your health – just standing around won’t do as much good as exercising. Sure, the gyms are crowded in January from everybody else trying to trim down from Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, too much drink, and a regular diet of holiday pastries – but you can even get a good workout at home.

Try these alternatives:

  • Get some exercise vids and sweat off the pounds in your living room
  • Invest in a stationary bike or treadmill
  • Start jogging around the neighborhood

Resolve to dedicate time to looking and feeling better by starting (and maintaining) a good exercise routine.

#3 Get More Sleep

Getting too little sleep carries a broad range of health risks and can make you more liable to suffer many serious diseases. According to an article on Harvard University’s Healthy Sleep website, chronic sleep deprivation can have serious consequences for your health.

Studies show that people who get less than six hours of sleep per night tend to have a higher body mass index while people who sleep at least eight hours have the lowest on average. One reason for this is that sleep deprivation depresses the hormone that tells you that you’ve had enough to eat – leptin.

Many studies have also shown that adults who typically sleep less than five hours have a much more increased risk of developing diabetes. By resolving to get more quality sleep time you’ll enjoy feeling more rested, less stressed, and be healthier.

#4 Learn to Prioritize

Resolve to focus on the most important things first. Instead of attacking everything willy-nilly – try focusing on the most critical issues first. A good exercise is to ask yourself: “If I could only do five things for the rest of my life, what would they be?”

This mental exercise will give you some perspective on what’s important to you. Try it out; you might be very surprised by your answer. Armed with this piece of self-knowledge ask yourself the same thing about what needs to be done today, this week, this month, etc.

#5 Get Better Organized

It’s easy to lose track of paperwork, belongings, information, and so on – so resolve to be better organized and have a good idea of where everything important is kept. Start with your desk, closets, and drawers and work your way up to places like the attic, garage, and basement. Resolve to get a handle on where all your things are and improve:

  • Improve work or school performance
  • Stress less since you won’t have to look for lost items just when you need them
  • Reduce clutter for a better work/living space

#6 Spend More Time with Loved Ones

The old saying is that no one on their deathbed ever wished they had spent more time at work. And, it’s true – what we remember is the wonderful times we’ve spent with our friends and family. Resolve to spend more time with the people that matter to you. Even making a quick call can make a huge difference in your life, especially regarding your older relatives. Don’t regret not having spoken one last time with a parent or grandparent who passed unexpectedly.

For those of us with children; don’t forget that they grow up before you know it. Enjoy being with them now, while they still need you and can’t imagine life without you.

#7 Read More

Reading is magical. Not just becoming immersed in a fantastic adventure set in far-off lands, but listening to the ideas of other people as if they were speaking to you face to face. Read more in the New Year and learn or be entertained by people from anywhere and anytime in the world.

#8 Watch Less TV

Unless you’re watching a historic event like the moon landing or an informative documentary; TV is wasting your time. Resolve to use your time better and avoid vegging out in front of the flatscreen. Read, exercise or learn a new skill, but resolve to do something more productive with the time you usually spend watching sitcoms or crime shows.

#9 Pay More Attention

Many of us go through the day glued to tablets, smartphones, and TVs. How often do you look up from the device in your hand or on the desk and take a look around?

Resolve to pay more attention and who knows what you may notice?

  • An attractive stranger smiling at you
  • A business opportunity
  • A fantastic bargain
  • That bus barreling straight toward you

You get the idea. Try looking around you and noticing your surroundings a little more often.

#10 Complaining without Offering a Solution is Whining

We hear it from children all the time: “I’m hungry,” and “I don’t want that,” instead of “I’d like spaghetti please,” and “I would rather have soup instead.” Adults are often just as bad. Instead of complaining, try offering someone the solution to your problem as well.

Besides making it clear to whoever you’re complaining to; you’ll have a clear idea of exactly how an issue can be resolved so you can focus on getting the best resolution from the beginning.

#11 Listen More

How often do you monopolize a conversation? Consider it from the other person’s point of view; how interesting is a conversation when you can’t get in two words edgewise?

Resolve to be a better listener by learning to talk less and care more about what someone has to say. Remember that a conversation isn’t a monologue, and that you may find out a lot by hearing more of what other people have to say.

#12 Look on the Bright Side

Resolve to be less pessimistic. I know it can be hard when the plumbing is clogged up, or you got a flat on the way to work – but the stress of always expecting the worse can actually damage your health!

The idea is not to mull on the bad things and appreciate the good that’s still there. Flat tire? Great! Easy and cheap to fix and I didn’t have an accident. You still have a flat tire, but you’re not stressing over it.

5 Tips for Keeping Active when it’s Cold Outside

If you’re like most people, the winter months are the time you’d rather retreat to the refuge of comfortably heated rooms and a less active lifestyle. The result, of course, is that you’ll have to scramble to look your best by the time spring and warm days roll around again and, it’s no longer possible to hide all the weight you’ve put on under bulky winter clothes.

The solution is to find ways to remain active even during the worst of the cold weather season. Keep reading to discover 12 practical tips for keeping active when it’s cold outside.

1. Don’t Want to Leave your Home? You don’t have to!

It can get brutal outside, making it unsafe to enjoy any outdoors time. Extreme cold, storms, icy conditions – are all excellent reasons to stay inside. This doesn’t mean you can’t stay active.

There are many ways to productively exercise at home and enjoy the benefits of physical activity and maintain your fitness until the sun returns.


Calisthenics exercises are a fantastic way to stay active and improve your fitness at home. Push-ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, and even running in place will all:

  • Improve muscular strength
  • Build cardiovascular fitness
  • Burn the excess calories you’ve eaten over the holidays

There are many wonderful resources online that will show you how to start a program of calisthenics exercises, a few of the best are ExRx, YouTube, and Livestrong.

Invest in a Treadmill, Rowing Ergometer, or Stepper

For those of us with the money to invest in ourselves – buying a piece of indoor cardio equipment is a brilliant way to stay active regardless what the weather is like outside.

The advantages of owning your own cardio equipment are obvious. Forget about getting to the gym, waiting for it to be available or dealing with someone else’s sweat all over it. Best of all, you can exercise in front of the TV and catch up on the news, episodes of your favorite shows or enjoy a great movie – while burning calories and toning the body.

Get a Fitness DVD like Zumba

There are hundreds of fantastic aerobic dance workouts on DVD that will turn your living room into a fun exercise studio. Set up the surround sound, move some furniture out of the way and benefit from the benefits of high-energy music and cardio-building dance moves.

Some options to check out are:

  • Zumba, with its sexy Latin rhythms and combination of calisthenics and dance moves
  • Kickboxing cardio workouts
  • Specialty videos that use ballet, jazz or tap-dancing to teach you new and fun ways to be active this winter.

2. Try Something New

There are many options to stay active outdoors even when it’s below freezing. If you haven’t tried a cold weather sport before, then this winter could be a great time to explore the options you have available.

Try getting friends and family together for a weekly get-together at a local ice skating rink. Ice skating will tone and strengthen the legs, improve your balance, and raise your metabolism as your body burns more calories to stay warm in the cold.

Skiing and snowboarding aren’t just fun; they’re an opportunity to enjoy the fresh mountain air and get away from your mundane everyday environment. Schedule a few trips over the cold season to revel in gorgeous views, fun times, and get out of your living room to genuinely enjoy the winter.

3. Be More Flexible

Winter is typified by sudden changes in the weather. Conditions can rapidly go from clear blue skies to blizzard conditions in a matter of minutes. We can easily convince ourselves to cancel any plans we had when conditions change. Instead, be flexible enough to have alternative options available that can save the day.

Ice skating canceled because of a sudden storm? Maybe there’s a roller skating rink nearby where you can still enjoy an active day out. Has inclement weather kept you from getting in some jogging? Use the time you had set aside for some other indoor fitness activity.

4. Be More Active during Your Day

From taking the stairs at work instead of the elevator to parking farther away from shopping or the office; there are many different ways to stay active until park and beach season returns.

Be creative. If the weather allows, why not use part of your lunch break for a relaxing walk? Recent studies have demonstrated that sitting for extended periods is as much a health risk as smoking, so why not try getting a standing desk? Even if a standing desk isn’t possible, you can cut down on your sitting time by simply standing up every time you speak on the phone.

5. Change Your Outlook

Winter is a state of mind. We all associate summer with fun days outdoors but typically see winter as a time to hibernate with long evenings spent over meals and sitting with family in front of the TV. Try changing how you think about winter to make sure you maintain a healthy level of activity.

Sure, beach trips and barbecues are fun, but what about snowball fights and building snowmen?

It just takes a change in how you see winter. Instead of just focusing on big holiday meals, cuddling on the sofa, or sitting in front of a warm fire – think about wonderful winter walks, exciting trips to the mountains for hiking, skiing, snowboarding or a fun day sledding in a local park.

Building a snowman with family or your significant other can become a cherished memory and keep your body moving.

Get Outside

Finally, the best way to ensure that you stay active when it’s cold outside is to just get outside!

Find any excuse to get out the front door and into the brisk air of a winter day. Revel in the absence of heat and humidity. If the indoors is still where you’re happiest – reconsider the choice of indoor activities. A movie or TV show is as much fun on a treadmill as it is on the sofa (but you’ll feel better about yourself an hour and a half later).

Change your mind about cold weather and enter the summer with great memories, better self-image, and a healthier and more attractive body.