The sun doesn’t rise until well after 6:00 a.m., you are accustomed to seeing snow flurries in the air (even if it doesn’t stick to the ground), and you are never without a pair of warm, fuzzy socks. It’s wintertime — which means summer is just a few short months around the corner, and you better start preparing.

Preparing for Summer

As tempting as it is to hibernate all winter, your warm-weather months will be much more pleasant if you devote some cold-weather time to home and body maintenance. After you finally peel yourself out of your warm bed, get started on any of the following winter-perfect tasks so you won’t have to worry when the temperatures rise in a few months.

Start Your Fit Lifestyle

Most people wait until warmer weather to start working on their bikini bodies, but the truth is building muscle and losing fat is a drawn-out process. That slim, toned look takes much longer than the last couple weeks of May, no matter how little you eat and how many workouts sweat through. Fitness is a lifestyle, which means you must devote yourself year-round to an acceptable diet and exercise plan if you wish to see any results — and that means working out during winter, too.

Committing to a healthy lifestyle isn’t easy, especially in the dead of winter. The cold temperatures and the darkness do little to encourage activity, and sometimes even avid exercisers fall into a wintertime slump. However, by setting up a support system amongst your family and friends and setting attainable goals, you should be well on your way to your dream body by summertime.

Repair Your Skin and Hair

The cold season can be traumatizing to the body, and the evidence is just skin-deep. Nearly every aspect of winter has a drying effect on the skin and hair: The cold air, the harsh winds, the toasty fires, and even the hot showers have a desiccating effect. Without proper care, your skin will itch uncontrollably — or worse, crack painfully — and your hair will become brittle and dull. Fortunately, it isn’t hard to combat winter dryness; simply applying heavy moisturizers (with sunscreen, preferably), installing a home humidifier, and drinking plenty of water is enough to keep your skin and hair glowing all season long.

Clean Out Your Closets

It makes little sense to spend days indoors decluttering and cleaning during the spring, when the weather is fine. Instead, you should devote your long winter nights to sorting through the junk in your cabinets and closets. The most organized method involves stacking items into three piles: keep, toss, and donate.

However, to ensure you don’t end up with as much stuff as you started with, you must have good reasons for every item in the “keep” heap. Otherwise, there are thousands of needy families that would appreciate your charity, especially during the hardest season of the year.

Schedule an HVAC Check-up

There is no better time than the cold months for you to repair and maintain your heating and cooling systems. HVAC service requests skyrocket in the hot summertime, when most families will pay anything for reliable air conditioning. Additionally, because the weather forces most families to spend much of winter cooped up indoors, issues with the HVAC can be devastating. Thus, when the mercury drops, it is time to arrange an inspection with a reliable local heating and cooling specialist. In the meantime, there are a few HVAC upkeep tasks you can do yourself, including:

  • Change your air filters. Your A/C and furnace do not function well when they are clogged with dirt and dust. You can ask your HVAC professional about an appropriate replacement schedule for your models.
  • Enhance your home. Features like a programmable thermostat, filmed windows, and ceiling fans help prepare you for the heat of the summer, and they also add value to your home.
  • Be aware of changes to your environment. Odd sounds, peculiar smells, and other changes that occur when your heating and cooling are running may signal HVAC distress, which means you should seek professional help immediately.

Tend Your Garden

After the first frosts of the season, plenty of gardeners pack away their digging tools until the spring. However, the cold weather is essential for hearty, durable plants, and with the right tools and techniques, you can reap a bountiful winter harvest despite the temperature. By struggling through the winter months to grow your garden, you can ensure nutritive soil for your spring and summer crops. Additionally, you can improve your landscaping with new shade-giving trees that will provide you respite during the impending summer swelter.