GRTH: A Gardener's Wintertime Malady

The problem for many gardeners, especially those of us who live where winter is winter, is an increase in GRTH symptoms at this time of year. Pronounced like “girth”, Gardeners Reduced Time with Horticulture (GRTH) is a malady whose primary symptom is ironically, an increase in the gardener’s weight.

For several months now, we northern gardeners have not been pushing lawn mowers, dragging hoses around, hoeing the gardens, raking leaves, or digging holes. At best, we may have shoveled snow a few times, but even that we’ve tried to make a more sedentary activity by using snow blowers or having the neighborhood kids do it.

Our primary winter-time gardening activities are studying seed catalogs, reading gardening books, browsing through countless back issues of garden-related magazines and posting on our garden blogs. These “activities” are really “sedentaries” and leave us sitting around quite a bit.

Thus we suffer from an increase in GRTH.

We have to be careful or we will wake up on the first wonderful spring morning, ready to just be gardeners for a day and realize that the symptoms of GRTH are preventing us from being the gardeners we want to be.

Until that first day of spring, some gardeners may refuse to believe that they are suffering from a huge case of GRTH. But on that first spring day, even they won’t be able to deny their GRTH symptoms because their favorite pants for gardening won’t fit.

We know there are ways to avoid a big fat GRTH attack, even cure it once you have it. And the way to avoid it and cure it are the same.

We need to exercise and watch what we eat.

That’s right, we sedentary northern gardeners need to get up off our couches and make sure we are exercising through the winter and eating right. We have to keep ourselves from getting GRTH by walking on treadmills, riding stationary bikes, lifting, bending… exercising.

Then when spring comes, we’ll be ready to go, all dressed up again in our favorite gardening pants.


No Rain said…
GRTH happens in Arizona in the summer!
Sue Swift said…
Yes, I've noticed a frightening increase in GRTH over the past few months. Now I know why. Pass the exercise bike someone ...
Garden Wise Guy said…
We've even got a little bit going on here in muddy, drenched, can't-go-into-the-garden, too-wet-to-plow Santa Barbara right now. I think we've received more than 1/2 our annual rainfall (and some snow!) in the past week.

GRTH, but without the low mercury.
Mark said…
I find it amazing how many ailments can be put down to lack of gardening, it just goes to show how important it is. My own problem with GRTH should be coming to an end soon unless we end up with the coldest Winter for the past million years like the weather people keep promising us.
Funny how this hasn't happend just hasn't stopped raining.
kate said…
That's where a big dog comes in handy. They nudge one off the couch and steal all the good treats and that helps keep GRTH to a more manageable level. I still pack on a few extra though, but I've always put it down to needing some extra poundage to stay warm.
jodi said…
Hmmmm. My method of losing weight is not one I'd recommend--a bad session of diverticulitus--but it did jumpstart my GRTH-reducing ways. :-)
Entangled said…
Oh, I thought it was because of all the cookies I had to eat to get containers for winter sowing. Now I know better ;-)
Curtis said…
It is amazing how you come up with all of these. I have been reading your blog for a year now and I don't remember you mentioning this one.
Yes, this well grthed gardener turns to cooking during winter to fill those hours that I wish I could be out gardening. It is so easy to switch from gardening to cooking. Even the seeds can be eaten in the cooking world. Burrrp.
I hate not being able to take my walks in the winter. I just bought a rebounder to get a little more indoor exercise.

It is so funny how something a person says can have an impact on your thinking. You once mentioned that bending over at the waist while gardening causes the backside to look twice as big. I don't think I'll ever forget that.
Carolyn gail said…
Me, too, Robin. So I keep in shape by climbing the stairs in my house to the third floor gym where I warm up to the sound of "Boot Scoot Boogy " by Brooks and Dunn.

Then I lift weights to keep my gardening muscles in shape. I think weight lifting is key for gardeners.

Carol, you are so right to warn about the malady GRTH because it can sneak up on us gardeners in the North. I've been fairly diligent about not giving in to it by exercising and watching what I eat, just like you said. There are NO magic bullets !
WiseAcre said…
I was wondering why the armrests on my chair seemed to be closer together. I should take your advise before I become rootbound in my chair.
EAL said…
I think this malady cuts across all occupations.
GRTH. So funny and so true. I wrote about this too in a post about exercise and staying strong for spring. What I noticed was that I was visibly weaker when spring rolled around. This afternoon, we had 62 degree weather so I went outside and did some chores. It felt good, and I think my winter exercise helped.
Shady Gardener said…
GRTH! Again, a fun post. :-) And if it doesn't result in "girth" it results in a lack of muscle tone. So, where did I hide that treadmill? ha.
Mary said…
GRTH happens in Charlotte. Wide GRTH. I pulled the garden hose out today to fill the Koi pond and it wore me out. Not good. We need to kick it up a notch.

Good post with good advice :o)
2greenthumbsup said…
Yup, suffering from a little GRTH up here in wintry Ontario, Canada too. I'm embarrassed to admit that while I sit here on my girth writing this comment, my treadmill sits beside me gathering dust!

Jennifer said…
Oh, this is so appropriate. I went in last week for a healthy heart check and a man 30 years my senior was able to perform more difficult exercises than I was. I have also gained 20 pounds. The whole experience frightened me so much I joined the hospital fitness center.

Ugh. I've never even been to a gym! But I'm seriously afraid my lack of fitness will affect my gardening so I'm giving it a go.
I think every gardener, at one time or another, suffers from this malady! Thanks for some excellent "medical" advice.
Tricia said…
LOL great post! Well we got a puppy in November and all those walks outside have helped prevent GRTH from happening over here. In fact I'll hope to be in better shape this coming spring than I have for the last several!

Hey ... are you still participating in Green Thumb Sundays?
Gardening is not for the faint-hearted is it? On your blog we can read about all the illnesses and syndromes we gardeners can suffer from. Luckily I don't suffer from GRTH but that's because I go for a long walk every day, come rain come shine. And I try to limit my chocolate intake, not easy that. :-)
Diana said…
Interestingly, we Austin gardeners sometimes suffer from this malady in August or September, when it is simply too unbearably HOT to be outdoors and all the moisture has been sucked out of our bodies to leave us gasping and weak, and NOT interested in our gardens -- AACK!

Great post!!! Too fun...
Weeping Sore said…
Thanks for giving me a genuine syndrome from which I can now claim to "suffer" as I pile on the winter pounds. I enjoy your sense of humor - slightly off kilter, like my own life.

Increasingly, adults are recognize that there is a serious vitamin D deficiency that afflicts many - particularly older folks - especially in winter months.
Carol said…
Wow, GRTH happens in all climates, just at different times of the year. I like everyone's suggestions on how to avoid it. Thanks for all the comments,

Carol, May Dreams Gardens
janie said…
I quit a 40 year habit just before I started to garden. It will be 10 years ago come March. I was a heavy smoker, (2 packs a day), and quitting was something that I thought I would never be able to do. But I did it, and I am glad.

I have gained GRTH, and increased my Grrrr too. Grrrrrrr......I hate being chubby.

I am active in my community, mostly doing gardening projects for Master Gardeners. I joined a gym, and I go 3 times a week. I have 3 dogs, but 2 are old, and don't get much more exercise than I do.

I have decided that this is the time for me to shed my excess GRTH, so I am pushing away from this computer, putting down the seed catalogs, and going to the high school to walk a mile on the track every day. I think that will be the best thing I can do for myself. Oh, yes, staying away from chips and dips will help too.

I shudder to think what will happen this summer. We are truely sedentary here in summer.

Good post, Carol.
Oh no, I havt GRTH. What is worse here in North Texas there are two GRTH seasons, late summer (to hot to breath) and now to cold and wet to summon the will to go outside.
You are too funny.
Even in Raleigh where we can get outside most of the year, we get GRTH. There just isn't enough strength exercise related work to do. Perhaps we should take the pile of seed catalogs, gardening boods, nursery catalogs, etc. stand by the window, facing out (for the view) and perform "Head, shoulders, knees and toes, knees and toes" routine. H