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Chicago winter

Healthy Mind

The Chicago Winter Challenge

January 7, 2014

Today is the coldest day in the history of cold. Seriously. Chicago reached -15 degrees. With the wind chill, that’s -42 degrees. The last time it was this cold? 1894. Yes today, Chicago was actually 5 degrees colder than Antarctica (1). That is insane. Just watching the Weather Channel gave me anxiety today.

First World Problem Alert: I had the luxury of staying in my nice warm apartment (my office called a work from home day) while countless others had to work or live outside in the freezing cold.

But first world problems aside, because of this weather, Chicago has never been my first choice for places to live. For anybody who knows me, I cannot stand cold, I dread the snow, and I don’t leave the house without warm layers to get me through the day. My theory is that my Bajan blood was meant for a warmer climate (my British blood doesn’t hold up to its tough-as-nails reputation).

I had always imagined myself living in a place where there are no real winters and flip-flops are yearlong attire. Where streets are littered with parks, highways with beaches, and those beaches and parks are crowded with runners, yogis and portable outdoor gyms. Sidewalk cafes have a permanent home in most neighborhoods. And for dining options? Vegan, gluten-free, paleo and organic are in abundance. It is truly my heaven. Basically, Chicago in the summer.

In a place like this, it is much easier to be healthy and stay healthy. People want to be outside. They want to swim in the ocean. They want to bike along the coast. And then afterwards, they want to refuel with juices and whole foods. And while they are doing all of this, they are basking in Vitamin D, keeping them happy and ready to do it all again the next day.

My point is, living in Chicago, or anywhere in the Midwest, means we have to work twice as hard to be active and healthy…

  1. Excuses are much easier to make when snow is between you and your gym.
  2. Cravings for comfort food, hot cocoa and heartwarming wine run rampant during freezing temps.
  3. And after weeks of darkness, day and night, depression sets in, sending us into an endless cycle of inactivity and unhealthy habits.

What can we do to combat this???

I propose a challenge! A challenge to experience a happy, healthy, active winter living in Chicago. Stay tuned for the next post. I am working on a list of activities that we can all do – in cold weather – that will help us to get through this bleak time of year. As always, suggestions are welcome!