I currently live in Southwest Iowa and have been living primally for the last couple of years. But I often feel like, sometimes, advice given from other Paleo-subscribers is meant for warm-weather conditions. For instance, I find it pretty difficult for several months out of the year to get out in the sun-so I take Vitamin D supplements along with my salmon. What else do people do to deal with that issue? Also, I have more trouble wanting to get out and move around in the winter--how do you deal with that issue if you live in a cold weather climate? If you live in a colder area of the world, what problems do you have living the Primal lifestyle and what are your solutions? How would cavemen have dealt with this issue?
After living four years in Montana, I can tell you how tempting it is to want to hibernate in the winter. The only thing that got me out of the house was the fact that I was carless and had to walk to campus each day and walk the dog three times a day. After the initial shock of stepping into -20 degree temperatures, it becomes an almost spiritual experience. The outside world is beautiful when it's frigid. You're outside moving around (weather be damned) while everyone else plops down in front of the TV for four months. You may be more comfortable huddled up inside, but you won't feel as vibrant and alive as you do when you're out there.
But dress in layers. ;)
My daily reenactment of hunt-and-gather is walking long distances, and I've done that in every season in the Chicago area for the last 5 years. The Prairie Path system is a big help. For winter cold I've got fur hats, balaclava, windproof overmitts, and pull-on metal studded traction slippers. For heavy raingear I've been using Helly Hansen bibs, a lightweight slicker and Muck Hoser boots.
In the winter I: (Northern NY)
1) Sleep more. (8-10 hr compared to 6-8 in summer)
2) Make a point of getting sun when it's available. Sometimes it's only sunny when its 20 below (Vit. D pills in a pinch)
3) Eat more red meat and tubers. Things that store well.
4) Move. I have a wood stove, dog, shovel, and snowboard.
5) Make plans for spring.
I had an unheated garage gym in Denver, CO for about 7 years...I know, I know, Denver is where people from Iowa go when they want to warm up. But, Denver can get cold at times during the winter. I just tried to think of those cold workouts as an opportunity to toughen up. I dressed accordingly and put a little extra time into warming up. I ruined a frying pan once trying to thaw a frozen kettlebell on the stovetop.
I'm up in Alberta so I know what you're going through. Last night we has 30 cm of snow and I just finished digging my car out. How's that for outdoor exercise?
Honestly though, the only thing that gets me happy about the outdoors is winter sports. Skiing and snowboarding are great if you have the option, but if not then get the family and friends out for some tobogganing! If you don't have a toboggan, put some rancid seed oil to use and coat the bottom of a crazy carpet or flying saucer (or a good old sheet of plastic) and let 'er rip.
Build a Grok snowman.
Of course, you have to get bundled up so not a square inch is exposed. So the benefit of the natural light (especially at this elevation) is minimal, although the fresh air is still good. To mitigate this, I go to a tanning salon with higher uvb bulbs so I am still getting my vitamin D. I used to get depressed every winter, but not anymore. Just make sure to moderate your exposure, you're not going for a 'tan' per se.
I use the cold months as a great excuse to use bone broth in everything- warm, nourishing, drink it straight! We often have the opportunity to get wild caught offal from deer, moose and elk, as well as good old canada geese since they let the hunters loose in late fall. Take advantage of the extra vitamins and minerals through the winter to boost your immunity- not getting sick is crucial to enjoying the winter.
Anyone else have tips for good living in cold weather?
Personally, I do less walking around outside and more sitting around inside in the winter (northern Wisconsin). But on those bright sunny weekends and afternoons, I totally take advantage of them- stop everything and get my tush outside. Like others have said, lots of layers, smart footwear, and at least one full head covering. Lots of lotion on exposed skin.
I figure Grokette in colder climes would've sat around tying rope, making clothing or containers, quick trips in and out to gather water and kindling or other necessities, telling stories by the fire, etc. I knit and talk to my cats during the dark hours before bed. I make slowly braised meats and stews, eat lots of root veggies and kale, and keep hydrated. Vitamin D for sure. It all helps maintain a positive attitude.
If you're an active person, a membership to a nearby gym does wonders as well. :) Short intense workouts get me in and out of the gym in a hurry when I'm feeling blue or lazy (which is common November-February due to the lack of sunlight). It's hard to feel like doing much when you go to work in the dark and come home in the dark, but every little bit does help.
I live in Switzerland and believe it or not it's warmer here in winter than it was in Baltimore - but there are long, dark stretches in the winter where it's cloud-covered and the lack of sunlight gets me seriously down. I find that making arrangements to meet up with other people to walk/run outside a few times a week really helps. As others have said, once you're out, it's very invigorating. And meeting up means you can't ditch at the last minute. And when the sun is out - no matter what temperature - I get out and soak some up.
I used to really struggle with the cold. When I was 15 my family moved from GA to IL and I had so much trouble with always feeling cold. I would sleep under two down comforters AND an electric blanket. It was pretty miserable. That was despite being a competitive swimmer and swimming in pretty cold water regularly. My hands would turn blue sometimes during practice.
Now I'm 25 and I've lived in cold climates for quite some time, including Sweden. I don't know what happened, but I'm very well cold adapted. I will wear tights and mini-skirts unless it gets below 0. I sleep with a thin blanket. I would say it's easy enough for me to get un-cold adapted though- when I've experimented with both VLC and HC I've had issues with cold again. Why? How come the Inuit managed VLC-ish diets in the cold and I couldn't? Genetic differences and higher bodyfat certainly helped them.
I maintain my hot-bloodedness by eating enough food, eating lots of fat and a decent amount of carbs, and occasionally going to the sauna. In Sweden I learned about this. People there go to the sauna, sweat, and then go outside nude and roll around in the snow! There is a lot of evidence that this reduces inflammation and adapts your blood vessels to not constrict in the cold, which is the cause of numbness and tingling.
Also taking up a winter sport hobby can be fun and boost your adaptation. Many people enjoy skiing and snowboarding, but I think they are $$$ and just too much trouble. Showshoeing and broomball are cheaper and easier.
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