First came the snow. Then came the polar vortex threats from the weatherman. In fact, I heard something like, “some of these numbers before windchill are the coldest I’ve ever seen” on the Milwaukee news, so, I guess that means we’re not kidding, winter has settled in and we’re in for it for the next 10 days. At least.
Most of us don’t have the pleasure of avoiding the outdoors altogether, so let’s get practical about how to dress and prepare for the polar vortex. These tips for extreme temps will get you through any Midwestern winter. And just a friendly reminder, you chose to live here, so no complaining.
Your mom was right your entire childhood when she made you wear three sweaters under your winter coat. You couldn’t move, but you were warm. That’s because this traps air, creates insulation, and you keep yourself warm. That said, try to make sure that the layer closest to your skin is sweat-wicking (not cotton). Pair your layers with a wind-resistant outer layer and you’re good to go.
Hats, scarves/masks, and extremity covers are key. Your body is wicked smart, so when it’s starting to get chilly, it knows it needs to preserve energy for keeping your organs well-heated, so other parts of your body may suffer. Mittens are better than gloves (let your fingers keep each other cozy). Scarves work if you can’t find a mask or turtleneck, but something secure is even better - bonus points if it covers your nose. Don’t let heat escape through your head (ahem, our SO COLD hat) and keep your ears covered with an adequate hat vs. a headband or more formal hat. As for feet, consider a thin sweat-wicking layer before putting on a thicker, warmer layer. For this reason, it’s a good idea to size up in winter boots so there’s room for all those layers, and a foot warmer if you’re taking that route. Or consider heated socks or insoles...
Forget what you’ve heard about cocktails keeping you warm, that’s not going to help anything. Hydration is key for regulating body temp so we want to do anything possible to achieve that. Tea, broth, or other non-caffeinated bevs will keep you hydrated. Drinking warm or room temp liquids definitely helps you feel a bit warmer as it goes down, and some people report feeling colder if they drink too much cool water, so be mindful of how your body reacts. If you’re going for soup, see the next paragraph...
Our favorite tip on the list. When food is digesting, blood is moving all around your body, which will keep you warmer. Digesting is also work in terms of internal systems, so when your body is focused on that, it’s literally producing energy and heat. Also, eating helps you pass the time. Don’t abuse that last one, which also leads us to...
Moving gets the blood flowing. Enough said. Did you know that shivering is an actual evolutionary technique to help you stay warm (again, your body is wicked smart)? When you shiver, it’s actually many rapid, repeated contractions/relaxations of your muscles which again, gets the blood flowing.
And while we usually say, "there's no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes..." extremely cold weather is not the time to push it and earn your bragging rights if you don't have to. There will be plenty of perfectly chilly though not brutal temps around the corner, so go easy on yourself (and your furry friends)!