Winter Fit with Adventure to Anywhere

WinterFit

Winter Fit is a series where I interview Canadian fitness/outdoors bloggers and get a first hand look into how they stay fit and motivated during the long cold winter months.

This week, we’re talking to Ashley from Adventure to Anywhere, another fellow Albertan who loves the mountains like I do!

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Introduce yourself 

Hi Guys!  My name is Ashley and I am a blogger at adventuretoanywhere.com, which seeks to inspire a life of adventure near and far.  I have been blogging for about 7 months now, and I was so excited when Rachel and I found each other!  She is such a positive light and I was so honoured when she asked me to contribute to her blog with this article.

Where do you live and what are your winters like?

I was born in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and other than the 8 years I spent living in Kelowna when I was in High School, Calgary has been home for the majority of my life.  You may know Calgary as the home of the Calgary Stampede, the 1988 Winter Olympics, that city near world-famous Banff National Park, or simply as the place with multiple personality disorder when it comes to weather.  Our winters are long and cold, with snow often beginning to fall in September and continuing to do so all the way until June, and temperatures dipping down as low as the minus forties at the worst of times.  It has even snowed in the summer months before here in Calgary – our weather is unpredictable at best.

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What are your go-to activities?

My go-to activities during the warmer months are hiking, running, and riding my bike, but when the freezing months of winter begin to set in, it can be difficult to stay motivated to remain active.  I still try to get outside when I can, even if it’s just to bundle up to go for a short walk.  However, in the winter, I find my active lifestyle in two things – Yoga and Snowshoeing.

How do stay motivated in the dark, gloomy winter months to stick to a fitness routine?

There are several ways that I stay motivated in the dark, gloomy winter months to stick to a fitness routine.  I use Pinterest and Tumblr a lot to stay motivated.  It is inspiring to follow so many fun, creative, fit people who are constantly posting new tips, trick, fitness routines and healthy recipes.  I also almost always book a winter vacation to somewhere warm.  The thought of being bikini-clad in the middle of January is enough to keep me active.  And, when all else fails and the winter blues get me really, really down, I listen to Reggae and do gentle Yoga in my apartment.  I find that Reggae music, or any music really that reminds you of warm weather, has the ability to lift your spirits and take you away from the doom and gloom that sometimes comes with those grey, cold days.

If you haven’t tried Yoga yet, you truly are missing out on something wonderful.  I still remember my first unofficial Yoga class – it was at my 14th Birthday Party.  We had a Yoga & Spa night, and my parents had purchased a Yoga DVD by Gaiam for us to follow along.  I still have that DVD, and I still use it in my practice from time to time, along with regular classes, both hot and regular, and a selection of videos on YouTube.  Yoga does not have to be as expensive or as time consuming as some people make it out to be.  It was not originally designed to include $200 designer outfits, $100 mats, $130/month passes to a studio and driving 30 minutes through heavy traffic just to get to your class.  While all of that can be wonderful, Yoga can also be accomplished on an inexpensive exercise mat in front of a YouTube video on your living room floor wearing comfy sweatpants and a cotton t-shirt.  It promotes connection to the breath, strength, flexibility, detoxification of the body, as well as mental awareness and control.  Yoga has become an integral part of my fitness routine, especially in the cold winter months.

Do you do any winter activities?

I grew up Skiing and Snowboarding every few weekends, which was a fantastic way to get outside and stay in shape during the winter.  Unfortunately, I suffered two major tailbone injuries when I was 14 and 15 years old, and it is now permanently broken, and will cause me pain for the rest of my life.  I have been told that I could do further damage to my spine if I am to injure my tailbone for a third time, so activities like snowboarding are out of the question now.  I could still ski if I wanted to, as long as I was extremely careful, but I’m not willing to take that risk.  Snowshoeing is an excellent alternative to high-risk winter sports.  It is inexpensive, easy to learn, a ton of fun and gentle on your body while still providing an awesome cardio workout.  It is basically winter hiking, and must be treated as such, so proper preparation, safety and winter clothing are essential.  It can be done alone or in a group, in the picturesque mountains or on a soccer field in your community.  Snowshoes can be inexpensively rented for those who want to give it a try, and if you choose to purchase your own, there is a variety of price points to choose from based on your needs.  What a wonderful way to get out and enjoy the beauty of nature in the winter, which so many people never see, while getting in a great workout.

Do you have a healthy comfort food recipe to share?

As for healthy comfort food recipes, I could post dozens of my favourites, but I’d better leave that to Pinterest.  I stick mostly to hearty soups and stews full of vegetables and lean proteins, and nutrient-rich slow cooker meals.  I find it difficult to drink smoothies for breakfast in the dead of winter, so I stick mostly to egg scrambles or omelettes packed with veggies like peppers, onions and spinach, or oatmeal loaded with toppings like fruit, nuts, dark chocolate chips, coconut, chia seeds and hemp hearts.

What advice would you give for someone struggling to get up and moving during the winter when hibernation mode sets in?

My best piece of advice for someone struggling to stay active during the winter months is to just do it once.  Fight the urge to stay in your warm, cozy bed on one chilly morning and get up and move.  Put on your winter boots and go for a walk.  Take a fitness class.  Do some pilates at home.  Run on an indoor track.  Go to a rock climbing gym.  Just try it once to see how much better you will feel – my guess is that your body will thank you in ways that will make you want to get up and do it again the next day.  If that doesn’t work, maybe putting a motivational quote or photo somewhere that you will see it every day is a good idea.  I keep them on the wall near my bathroom mirror and on the background of my iPhone.

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Thank you so much for reading, and thank you Rachel for providing me with this opportunity to share my top winter activity tips!  Have a beautiful, active winter, everyone!

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