Contribution from freelance writer Jennifer Dawson
The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a 70% chance of an El Niño pattern winter for the Northern Hemisphere, which could mean a snow season with warmer weather and less power days than we’d like.
When you work hard and play hard, and count on the winter for the lion’s share of your annual income, you can’t afford to have a sick day in the midst of a limited snow season. Especially if you’ve planned ahead for this epic work/holiday! Staying fit and healthy so you can make the most of the season means adopting healthful routines to treat your body right. From diet tips to preventive health measures, here’s 6 ways to ensure you can thrive throughout a season on the slopes.
Prepare for Endurance
Unless a cardio and core strength workout is already part of your daily routine, the first few days back on the slopes can really do a number on you. Rather than powering through that adjustment while you’re on the job, prep for your snow season with three or four weeks of aerobic training. You don’t have to go nuts — simply biking, walking briskly, or daily elliptical use are all great ways to start rebuilding your strength so a long day on skis or snowboarding won’t wipe you out. Core strength exercises are also important so that you’re less prone to injury and better able to stay strong and balanced on the slopes. Try squats, planks, and lunges to build your core power.
Be Kind to Your Skin
When you’re out all day in cold, raw mountain weather, dry, cracked skin is commonplace. Skin irritation can be more than just irritating if it leads to sores that risk infection. Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim recommends thick moisturizer and overnight masks to prevent chapped skin on the slopes. Even just the dry winter air indoors can lead to painful cracked or peeling skin, especially on hardworking hands.
Wearing heavy duty moisturizer overnight and a pair of cotton gloves can help skin heal more quickly if this happens. It can also be easy to forget to wear sunscreen in the midst of winter, but UV protection is crucial in the mountains where the higher altitude and bright, reflective snow can really amplify the harming effects of the sun’s rays. Layer on those SPFs!
Eat a Healthy Breakfast
When your job requires a lot of energy to stay alert and active to instruct novice skiers or hike through knee-deep powder, you need a protein-packed breakfast to start your day. Of course, a snow season job often requires waking up before the tourist crowds, so you may not have time to cook or even sit down to eat in the mornings. The best solution for your morning fuel is to whirl up a power smoothie breakfast. Vitamin-packed fruits and vegetables mixed with superfoods like chia seeds and spirulina will keep you going strong for hours. Smoothies are also the ultimate to-go breakfast and travel especially well in a durable glass mason jar with a pop-on lid.
Stretch it Out
Avoid body cramps and backaches that can hamper your ability to work by making yoga part of your daily routine. Not only does yoga help improve your core strength, which makes your body less vulnerable to injury, but it teaches you to calm your mind and your breath which goes hand in hand with giving you form and focus on the slopes. Give yourself an extra 15 minutes in the morning to do a simple sun salutation or practice that helps get the blood flowing and stretches out stiff muscles. Ending the day with restorative yoga stretches will help you recover from any aches so you’re ready to ride in the morning.
Rethink Comfort Food
Ski resort restaurants are known for hearty, comfort food cuisine and pub fare. Meaty dishes, melted cheese, and gravy-coated everything. For some of you, amazing resort food may be just as much a reason to work a snow season as, say, the snow! Yes this kind of food can hit the spot on a cold winter’s day, but eating it day after day after day can slow you down and make you feel gross. Make an effort to choose healthier versions of comfort food favorites like whole grain pasta and beans for protein. A hearty veggie chili can be just as warming while being much kinder to your system.
You can also smooth out the highs and lows of coffee and alcohol by opting for more healthful beverages with mood-altering properties like kombucha or — the latest craze — CBD-infused sodas or seltzers.