A cold hater’s winter survival guide
Another deep freeze is settling over Chicago this week. It seems like this winter will last forever – especially to a cold hater like me. You’d think I’d be able to handle the frigid temps and drifting snow; I had a very outdoorsy Michigan childhood. I skiied, I iceboated – I had my own snowmobile suit for god’s sake. But a few winters back I started breaking out in itchy hives whenever I went outside.
At first I thought it was a bad case of fleas, but a trip to the doctor revealed I had a cold allergy. Really. It’s an actual medical condition. Unfortunately, other than benedryl and long underwear, there’s no real cure.
So, while my North Shore neighbors make the best of the winter by building backyard skating rinks, hiking the icy shores of Lake Michigan, playing paddle tennis, and even surfing - I survive the season by staying indoors as much as possible. For all my fellow cold haters out there, here’s my guide for making it through a long, freezing winter.
#1 – Stay Home
Why go out? With the wind chill and icy roads, it’s dangerous out there. Work from home, order your groceries through Peapod, build a fire and hunker down. Catch up with friends over the phone or video chat. If you absolutely must leave the house, put on a full length puffy coat and RUN to your next interior destination.
#2 – Dress hot
No need to worry about style since you’ll be home most of the time. Your winter wardrobe needs to deliver warmth and comfort. My favorite outfit is pull-on exercise pants (no zippers), a fleece sweatshirt, and my much beloved Ugg sheepskin slippers (every member of my family has a pair.) This unisex ensemble doubles perfectly as pajamas which is great, because changing clothes is chilly. Optional accessory - a colorful scarf.
#3 – Get your own blankie
Everyone deserves an amazing plush throw from Restoration Hardware. Mine is so luxuriously cozy, I drag it around with me from room to room like a little kid. It comes in an variety of colors and is on sale right now for $39.00.
#4 – Learn something new
Now’s the time to refine your skills in an area you wouldn’t make time for in warmer months. Get a book on meditation, etiquette, handwriting analysis, or my pick, The Art of Conversation by Catherine Blyth. When you reconnect with friends in the Spring, you’ll dazzle them with your new accomplishments.
#5 – Watch old seasons of TV shows on dvd
And by this I mean: watch Lost! I don’t know what desert island I’ve been on for the last five years, but now that I found Lost, I’m obsessed. My kids and I are gobbling up the first season on dvd. Without commercials we can watch two or three episodes a night. And hel-lo Josh Halloway.
#6 – Exercise at home
As much as I like to conserve my energy in the winter, a new study has found that too much sitting around is bad for your health. An exercise video is the perfect way to exercise without leaving home. I’ve been working out to Biggest Loser trainer Jillian Michael’s Banish Fat, Boost Metabolism dvd and i’m telling you – the workout kicks my butt. You can order it online for under $10, it’s easy to follow, and you don’t need any equipment.
#7 – Experiment with beauty treatments
Long hours at home provide ample time for playing around with cosmetics. As I type, I’m deep conditioning my hair, whitening my teeth, and wearing a moisturizing face mask. My current appearance might frighten small children, but in the Spring I will emerge like a butterfly with silky locks, dazzling teeth and supple skin. (Not to mention my stimulating conversation skills.)
So, my fellow cold weather sufferers, thus concludes my personal tips for surviving a long, cold Chicago winter. As an additional resource, I canvassed my North Shore Facebook friends for their ideas and have listed them below. You might note a theme.
Chris – Date a wine guy! (Chris is a wine guy)
Meg – Bake, and then eat what you bake along with a complementary warm drink. Homemade food is the balm for long cold winters!
Kristen – Guiness!
Joe – Get outside. Bundle up and learn how to ice skate, paddle tennis, cross country skiing,etc. The learn to make and love hot toddies and hearty soups. Enjoy it instead of being miserable about it. (Obviously, Joe does not suffer from my cold allergy.)
Debbie -Read, clean closets and discover the artistic side of yourself.
Bruce – ditto Kristin on the Guiness
Randy – When you’re really cold, make a fire in the fireplace and sit as close as you can. Heats up every part of your body. Everything else can’t be posted here
Caryn – Take some time to ponder. Busy isn’t always the answer.
If you have any tips of your own, please share them here in the comments section. Stay warm!