Depending where in the U.S. you are living for your internship or training program, you may experience a different winter than you are used to in your home country. In many places in the U.S., the winter months bring a lot of snow, high winds and very low temperatures, making the idea of going outside dreadful. But don't get the winter blues! There are many ways to have fun while staying warm, healthy, and fit during the winter months.
Cold weather often makes you crave something warm and comforting to eat. But don't just go for the warm chocolate brownies or just-out-of-the-oven cookies. Winter is a great time to search out some of the warm foods you might not want to eat during the hot summer months. In the U.S., we refer to many of these winter classic dishes as "comfort food."
Oatmeal is the perfect way to start any morning. Oats contain the vitamins and minerals you need to start your day. You can dress up your oatmeal anyway you like, with fruit or even brown sugar. You can also bake your fruit! Chances are you won't be craving watermelon when temperatures drop. So instead, bake fruit for a healthy after-dinner dessert or oatmeal topping for breakfast. Put apple slices and cranberries in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees, and add a sprinkle of cinnamon – a powerful antioxidant - on top to add both health benefits and flavor.
For lunch, try a warm and hearty soup like tomato soup. Pair it with a grilled cheese sandwich to make an American classic.
Looking for a warm American dinnertime treat? Warm your bones with some macaroni and cheese! Another delicious, warm treat that is great for sharing with friends is fondue. Choose one of many delicious cheeses for a savory option and then have a chocolate fondue for dessert.
Finally, nothing says warmth quite like a nice cup of hot chocolate or warm apple cider. There are also many cozy cafes that offer comfy couches and chairs that invite you to stay awhile. Some may even have a fireplace! Stop in for some coffee, hot chocolate or tea and keep warm with your friends.
Stay Fit this Winter
Since winter always makes us crave warm and heavy foods, it is important to exercise as well so that you can work off some of those calories from the macaroni and cheese and hot chocolate. And nothing will quite warm you up like getting your heart rate up and breaking a sweat at the gym!
There are many sports and activities that can only be played in the wintertime. Skiing and snowboarding are popular winter activities. Find some friends to car-pool on the weekends to a ski resort in the area, or check to see whether there are any tours or weekend trips to resorts that you can join. For those near NYC, you can check out our "Hudson Valley" blog here for winter sports ideas.
Most cities around the U.S. have community sports groups that you might want to join. Popular winter options include ice hockey or broomball and even swimming or water polo at an indoor pool. Check out Meetup.com to find other sports groups in your community and join in the fun.
Winter is also the perfect time to try indoor fitness classes. Most gyms offer a wide variety of indoor classes to suit anyone's interest, such as martial arts, kickboxing, aerobics, salsa dancing, indoor rock climbing and more. Visit Groupon or Living Social to find discounts on all kinds of fitness activities in your area.
You will most likely be spending a lot of your time in the office environment during your internship or training program. Staying indoors all day with little fresh air is a common way germs can transfer from person to person during the winter months. Keep yourself healthy by taking a multivitamin and getting 6-8 hours of sleep every night. You may also want to consider getting a flu shot. Many local grocery stores and pharmacies offer the flu shot for under $20. You can just walk in and ask for one without an appointment. If you are feeling unwell and think it may be more than just a cold, be sure to visit the doctor. Visit our website to find more information about finding a doctor and using your health insurance here.
Onion, garlic, horseradish, rosemary, oregano, thyme, sage, pepper, and basil all strengthen the immune system and keep us healthy. They can all be added to our favorite foods to enhance the flavor and provide extra nutrition. Why not have a night in and cook dinner with some friends? It will be good for your physical and mental health—not to mention your wallet!
Don't get SAD!
Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is episodic depression that occurs during certain times of the year, usually the wintertime. Symptoms may include increased appetite, increased sleep, loss of energy, loss of interest in activities, irritability or unhappiness. Don't let the long winter months get you down! Remember to exercise, take short walks out in the sunlight every day, and schedule plenty of fun activities and social events to keep you busy. If you stay active and maintain a healthy diet, spring will be here before you know it!
Originally from Columbus, Ohio, Ani is a fan of exploring new places through photography and the local cuisine. After earning her BFA in photography from NYU and gaining communications experience at International Planned Parenthood Federation, she joined InterExchange in 2012, and worked as the Marketing Producer until 2016.