I don’t know about you, but I have been loving the warmer spring weather we’ve been having lately. It’s so nice to be able to take my son out for walks, go for outdoor runs, and just spend time soaking up some sun (bring on the Vitamin D!). And I’m excited that it’s officially only 4 days until March 20th – the first day of spring!
In preparation for the new season, here are 15 fun ideas to help you spring into good health. These are all suggestions that are completely feasible for you to tackle. Some are small, some are bigger – but I’d encourage you to choose a few of these tips and implement them into place right away. No waiting “to start on Monday” or “when I have time.” Just choose a few and get going!
1) Consider signing up for a CSA (community supported agriculture). In these programs, you pay a set fee to a farm which covers produce throughout a given period – usually 16-20 weeks over the summer and fall. It’s a great way to encourage you to use more produce and, since you don’t know what you’ll receive each week, you end up finding creative uses for new items that you may have never tried before. Check your local farms – sign ups usually take place around this time of year.
2) Spring clean your house (or a room…or a closet…or even one drawer). You know that dust contributes to allergies and asthma, but did you also know that clutter can affect your health too? Disorganization makes it difficult to find items you need. “Where did I put that medicine?” “Where are my sneakers for the gym?” The more time you spend looking for these, the more frustrated you may get and the more likely you may be to just decide not to proceed with it (like decide to skip your medicine or decide not to go to the gym). Clutter can also cause anxiety in many people (like myself).
3) Start carrying a water bottle with you. It’s a lot easier to stay hydrated when you have the water right next to you. If you don’t like plain water, try infusing your water with fresh fruit or try some unsweetened teas.
4) Try an exercise that invokes your inner child. Jump rope, skip, play hopscotch, jump on a trampoline – anything that makes you remember exercise can be fun.
5) Look for a new healthy recipe, and then actually make it! How many times do you pin a new recipe on pinterest or tear one out of a magazine, but don’t actually cook it? (Guilty as charged). This week, take the time to purchase the ingredients and give it a whirl.
6) Open your purse or briefcase now and put some healthy snacks inside – maybe a few mini bags of a healthy cereal, portion controlled servings of nuts, a healthier turkey jerky, or some dried fruit. One of the reasons we often make unhealthy choices while out is simply because we didn’t plan ahead.
7) Eat more fish! Seafood has many benefits, from being packed with protein to providing us with heart-healthy and brain boosting omega-3 fatty acids. Make it a priority to eat fish at least once a week – preferably twice a week.
8) Sign up for a 5K (or a 10K, or a half marathon, or a triathlon). Choose a race you’ve never done before if you want a big challenge. There are plenty of race opportunities coming up now that the weather is getting warmer. If you’re hesitant, sign up anyway. Nothing is more motivating than making the commitment and investing in yourself.
9) Strength train! This is probably the tip I struggle with most. I am a cardio girl at heart but strength training is also such an essential part of a well-rounded fitness routine. You don’t need to have a fancy gym membership either. Body weight exercises like squats and push-ups are very effective.
10) The next time you’re planning to go out to eat, check the nutrition facts online for the restaurant you’re going to visit. You may be surprised that even some seemingly healthy salads at restaurants contain over 1000 calories! Plan ahead to make an informed choice.
11) Challenge your brain once this week – read a new book, do Sudoku, complete a crossword puzzle, or try your hand at a logic puzzle.
12) Visit a national, state, or local park and go for a trail walk, run, or hike. Fresh air and nature always does a body good. Spring is a perfect time to get out there – it’s warm enough to enjoy the outdoors but not so hot that you are sweating a few minutes after walking out the door!
13) Use smaller plates and consider portions at meal times. There’s research showing that we eat more when we eat on large plates or when we serve ourselves big portions of food – yet don’t feel any more satisfied.
14) Wear a pedometer or fitness tracker for a week and track how many steps you take each day. Aim to increase by 10% each week until you’re taking an average of 10,000 steps per day.
15) Eat more phytochemicals! These are components of plant foods that help our health. There are thousands of them out there, and scientists believe that many of them may work synergistically together in the food. To ensure you’re getting tons of phytochemicals each day, include a variety of fruits and veggies at every meal. Add some sliced banana to your morning cereal, create a salad with tons of different vegetables at lunch, and sauté some greens to go with dinner.