The great thing with living the barefoot lifestyle is that there are always new things to write about and fun experiences to share with your feet. With the cold weather having arrived in New York, the mainstream tends to suffocate their feet, worried about the possibility of getting cold. Cold air is actually great for the feet and keeps your blood circulating. The interesting thing is, I actually enjoy going barefoot in cold weather than in the summer months. Aside from looking like something out of the ordinary to the normal spectator (I must admit I kind of enjoy the attention my bare feet get from shoddies who can’t even leave their homes without having on 1 or 2 layers of socks), feeling the cold breeze and cold surfaces is invigorating. For those of you trying the barefoot lifestyle, here is a list of some fun things to do in the cold weather.
Forget your Shoes
Most people don’t forget their shoes when they leave the home. Generally putting on shoes is as habitual as yawning and it is pretty unlikely that a person will ever forget to shoe-up when stepping out his or her door. I have actually forgotten my shoes on some occasions. One reason for this includes the times that I forget to leave them off. Confused? I’ll elaborate.
Normally I keep an emergency pair of sandals in my car for entry into some establishments. Since they for the most part reside there, I enter and leave my home barefoot. On occasion I wear my footwear into the home instead of leaving them in the car. On some days when I clean out my car, or bring my shoes into the house with intent of going out the next day with no footwear whatsoever, it turns out I’ll schedule some appointment that night. The next day, I leave my home assuming that my footwear is in the car only to realize once I get to my appointment that I have no footwear whatsoever. Since I go barefoot as habitually as others remember to wear their socks in the winter time, it is quite easy to forget to take footwear with me. The nice thing the appointment ends up going well and I’ve never had to cancel a meeting on account of bare feet!
Now most people will agree that a feeling of instant relief is kicking off those foot coffins as soon as you walk through that door of your home. Well, okay, I know several people that for some oddball reason don shoes even in the privacy of their home, and if not their shoes, then their socks. But in any case, shoeless feet do not need to be relegated to only the inside of your abode. Why not “wear” your feet as proudly as you would a brand new pair of the latest release of Nike sneakers or a pair of Italian shoes. Let others know that your choice of footwear is no footwear whatsoever! And if you want to add some style to your ‘choice of footwear’ paint your toes a magnificent color if you are female, or even if you would like to and you are a guy. Maybe get into the holiday spirit by painting your toes a combination of red and green! You can also add some toe rings and anklets to your jewelry collection.
Going barefoot in public is indeed fun no matter what time of year it is. In some parts of the country, during the warmer months, many people go barefoot in public. In major urban areas, however, most people will have some form of footwear on, whether it is flip flops or sneakers, which will often be shed off in an indoor venue like a cafe, so it’s not uncommon to see people barefoot in public during these times of year. This is what makes barefooting in the winter time all the more fun, when most people do not leave their home without a pair of socks on their feet and their cold weather foot gear. The heads that turn at the first sight of a naked foot and the expressions are simply too priceless for words.
Don’t worry about those looks, you’ll get used to it after a while and start enjoying it. On that subject, I would not advise going out in just your socks as your feet will not feel warmer. Socks will also attract more dirt and make items like twigs stick to them which will make your unshod experience an non-pleasurable one. They will also trap in the cold keeping it in even when you are indoors. And if the grounds are wet, forget it! Besides, bare feet are much nicer looking. As I type this post, I am sitting in my favorite coffee shop in my bare legs and feet. Except for a few glances here and there, people are just minding their own business going about their work. It could be that folks think I just have my shoes off, even though I’m also the only one here not wearing a pair of socks and in my short cut-off shorts the day before the start of the holiday season!
Fall is my favorite season of the year. As an artist, I enjoy seeing the changing colors of the leaves on the trees and the color it brings to the ground when they fall off. Remember those days when you were a kid, you would rake a nice high stack of leaves, take a few steps back and jump in it? Think about the feeling you get on your bare feet as you take that plunge. I especially love it when the leaves get dry and begin to curl – the feeling and sound of the leaves crunching under my arches and between my toes as I walk down an path that has not yet been raked.
As many of you who have visited in the past already know, I am an avid barefoot runner. In the summer time I take to the beach, running on the sand while getting my feet wet at the same time. Since I run shirtless as well, it gives me the opportunity to suck in that vitamin D and get a nice even tan. When the weather gets colder, it tends to be a bit too windy at the beach, so I run in the park wearing a shirt and sweat shirt, which I usually end up stripping off about a mile or two into my run. At first when running barefoot in the cold, especially on cold wet surfaces, your feet may feel a bit numb, but as your body warms up, you will find that even in 30 degree weather, your feet will regain total feeling. Adding to it is that once you get indoors, your feet will feel especially toasty while others around you in their double layered footwear, trapping in the cold, will be wondering why their feet feel so cold.
I’m personally not a fan of cold rainy weather. This may be due to the fact that most of the time I do not have an umbrella handy – somehow I always tend to get wet even when carrying one – yes, I do open it over my head but somehow it fails to keep me dry. Even if you do manage to stay dry, unless you are wearing rain boots with the tops sealed to prevent the water from getting in, most of the time your shoes will either be soaked for the next 2 days or permanently ruined, while your feet get all clammy and wrinkled in your wet socks – and ever notice how cold your feet feel when you have something wet on them? It reminds me of last week when I was making sales calls to a couple of offices and I had on my shoes. They got soaked and my feet were cold until I decided to lose them for the rest of the day and my feet were fine after.
Cold rainy weather actually gets to be enjoyable when there’s nothing on your feet. While I watch others try to circumvent those deep puddles and flooded street gutters, with my pants rolled up, my bare feet happily splish splash right through them. And feet dry much faster than shoes, plus they get a nice bath at the same time so they are all nice and clean by the time I get indoors, and once dry, have a nice toasty feel. Next time you need to get to that meeting and getting ready to brave that rain, just leave the shoes off and keep your socks in your briefcase or hose in your purse. Roll up those pants and splash your way to the meeting!
Add some character to the office with bare feet
On the subject of rain, wet shoes and socks are a perfectly excuse for going barefoot at work. After all, I can’t see how it is possible to concentrate on being productive when your feet are cold wet and uncomfortable. On the other hand, I don’t know about the rest of you out there, but having feet that are sweaty and suffocating in shoes and socks is equally as uncomfortable. If the main object of going to work is to make a difference for your company or your clients, why should anyone care about what you have on your feet, or whether you have anything on your feet altogether? So if bare feet enhance your concentration and focus, which they do, then bare them. And as long as you are comfortable baring your feet at work, why stop there? Leave the unnecessary footwear at home and bare your way into work. One advantage to doing this on a rainy day is that you can then state your case that you had one of the best days ever at the office. If you continue baring them long enough you may even win some converts, making your office an overall positive working environment!
I’ve talked about snowfooting in several previous posts. It’s one of my favorite activities and once you get yourself into the right mindset, it’s loads of fun. When venturing into the snow for the first time, take it little by little and stay close to an indoor spot where you can quickly let your feet thaw. Each day, add a few more feet (no pun intended!) to your snowfooting experience and you’ll soon find yourself not wanting to miss out on a barefoot stroll in the snow. I’ve gotten reactions from ranging from people thinking that I was absolutely nuts to compliments about how awesome they think it is. The key to snowfooting is to keep moving as well as keeping your head and the rest of your body warm. While the hands tend to get colder from being suspended in the air, when your feet are constantly moving and being applied to the ground, you’ll find that it is easily doable. Once inside, gently brush any excess snow off your feet – never stomp them like you would boots, as this could cause damage to your blood vessels. Give them time to thaw – do not run them under warm or especially hot water as this will overwhelm your blood vessels. Before thawing, if your feet are numb, you will feel a stinging sensation. This goes away in a few minutes and then you have nice warm feet.
In all the years of my life, I’ve never ice skated – on skates that is. I’m sure if you put me in a pair of ice skating boots, I would not exactly have the grace of Dorothy Hamill – well maybe, but on my butt! One day while walking through the park, however, I came across a pond, frozen over with thick ice. Taking my first timid step, I let myself slide a few feet and enjoying it so much, had the pleasure of ice skating for the first time – in bare feet!
Take a Leisurely Walk
The fun thing about walking barefoot is feeling the ground and different textures beneath your soles. Even if running errands, doing it barefoot makes it much more fun and relaxing. Try it and experience the pleasure of crunching over those dried leaves, walking on cool wet grass or feeling a dirt path beneath you. As long as you don’t have any footwear to ruin, roll up your pants and squish your toes in some mud. Don’t worry about the dirt, it washes right off unlike a pair of sneakers, which get permanently soiled. Today while walking to the bank with my legs, ankles, and feet totally uncovered, a lady walking alongside me glanced down at my feet.
“Do you feel cold?” she asked. I told her it felt great. Noticing she had on a pair of green sneakers without socks, I asked her the same with her ankles. “I usually don’t wear that much clothing,” she replied. I replied back that my first choice is naked but going barefoot is the next best thing.
By the way, if you are ever in a park or someplace secluded away from any pedestrian traffic, I recommend giving that a try – it is quite invigorating to feel the cool air circulate around your body when you are wearing absolutely nothing! I’ve experienced it before and nothing beats the feeling – just make sure to keep a pair of shorts nearby that slide on easily just in case someone happens to walk by.
Hearing my response, she laughed as she said, “It’s all in the mind.” Very true. Training your mind is quite easy so the next time you feel that cold air coming your way, leave behind the boots and double layer of socks and go bare!
The Barefoot Healthy Coach