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Spring Primer: 8 Ways to Refresh Your Health Routine

Most of us are welcoming the beginning of spring these days, shaking off the winter doldrums and anticipating the promises of summer. In the midst of these warmer days, maybe you're priding yourself on the hard work you've done over the winter months. On the other hand, maybe you find yourself wishing you were a little further along in your progress as summer (and swimsuit season) approach. Sometimes all you need is a refresh in your health and fitness routine to renew your motivation and kickstart the next chapter of your health and transformation journey! Check out these 8 tips below to recharge your healthy lifestyle this season. 

Get up earlier.

I can hear those scoffs, laughs and "I wish" responses, but just try it. You'll thank yourself (and maybe me?) if you take the plunge. I've certainly been guilty of hitting snooze and enjoying sleeping in until I absolutely had to get out of bed. Recently, however, I’ve started getting up earlier, and I've been pleasantly surprised. So many of us set ourselves up for a frantic and stressful day because we don’t allow time in the morning. We all have 24 hours in a day, and while many varying factors impact our daily schedules, setting your alarm 15-30 minutes earlier for most of us IS doable. This extra time in the morning can be used to fit in a morning workout, make a better breakfast, or just enjoy a cup of coffee while reading the paper - something we all would love to do but chalk up to movie/T.V. fantasy. Our natural sleep schedule centers around 10 p.m. - 6 a.m. The closer we follow these natural rhythms, the better our overall health becomes and the more our weight loss efforts pay off!

Clean out your cupboards.

It's spring cleaning time, and that goes for your pantry as well! You should make a point at least once a quarter to deep clean your kitchen. Completely clear out all items from the cupboards, pantry, and refrigerator/freezer, and assess which food items should be disposed of. Before putting items back, wipe down and clean the surfaces. Take it a step further, and challenge yourself to clean up your nutrition regimen! Donate foods that don’t fit your healthier way of eating, such as processed foods with artificial ingredients, additional sugars, and sensitivity-triggering ingredients, etc. 

Get re-assessed and re-checked!

Any improvement plan needs to begin with a starting point, right? How can you know what to improve if you don’t know where you're at? Maybe this spring will be the first of your assessments, but it can also be a time of re-assessing to measure progress and realign goals. Either way, know your numbers. Get appointments on the calendar to confirm a clean bill of health at your doctor's office, perform physical reassessments at your gym, and fit in a dentist cleaning whiile you're at it! We all dread going through the motions of doctor and dentist visits, but the pay-off is so worth it! You learn a lot about yourself through these assessments, and the feedback from them helps direct your health and fitness routine going forward.  

Enlist an ally.

Whether it’s a friend, family member, or furry companion, make a plan to get outside for some movement with him/her. There is bound to be someone in your life who would also benefit from daily physical activity and thank you for it. Hold each other accountable for your walking, jogging, yoga, or dog-park plans. (Your pup won’t let you forget - I know!) Oftentimes, it's the connection with another person or pet that makes this time in our day more enjoyable and encourages us to continue with the routine throughout the week. Take advantage of the beautiful spring weather, shake off the winter blues and bad habits, and start fresh! For additional accountability and motivation, utilize an activity tracker and join a steps challenge.

Carry a water bottle.

Want to feel (and look) more rejuvenated, younger, and energetic? One of the best methods to help your body detoxify and function optimally is to ensure adequate water intake. And good news is it’s easy to do! I’ve made a point to get a quality glass water bottle and carry it with me most places I go. There are still days that are more of a struggle for me to get in the amount of water I need, but at least having it with me serves as a reminder to drink more often. Oftentimes, when we feel sluggish, hungry and fatigued during the day, it's actually our bodies craving water. After all, our bodies are primarily water, which helps ensure nutrient absorption and delivery. The proper amount of water needed is different for every person, as our body size and composition vary. A good rule of thumb is to drink half of your body weight in ounces. That means, if you weigh 200 lbs, drink 100 oz of water per day. Another easy method involves monitoring if/when your urine is pale yellow in color, which indicates adequate hydration. 

Unplug at lunch.

It’s common wisdom now that shutting off the T.V., computer, and other devices before bed is essential to helping de-stress and ensure quality sleep. That said, how often during the day do you “unplug” from electronics and engage in a genuine break? As helpful and entertaining as they are, our devices and social media have descended like a wrecking ball these past few years and too often overtake our time and energy each day. Instead of using your mid-day break to catch up on email, check social media, or aimlessly look “busy” on your mobile device, allow yourself to unplug for 20-30 minutes. Grab a friend to join you for a walk, schedule a quick lunch date with a co-worker, or get back to old fashioned paperback books and magazines! This mid-day break from your workspace and “screens” can help your body de-stress and reboot for the remainder of your day.

Purge your products.

Don’t stop at just your kitchen for that deep clean! Think of how many products you use and are exposed to on a daily basis that contain chemicals and the products that are synthetically made and potentially harmful to your health: cleaners, body products, lotions, soaps, make-up, pesticides, the list goes on. For most of us, it isn’t realistic to completely toss all of our products that aren't completely natural, but consider finding alternatives for even two or three products you most commonly use. I have recently switched to a more all-natural hair product and lotion. I would love to say all of my home and personal care products are void of harmful chemicals, but I’m choosing to make the change gradually. It's essential to our health to be mindful of the products we use and know that these have toxins we absorb in some way, shape, or form that potentially disrupt many hormones and systems in our bodies. Consider making your own house cleaning products, laundry soap, hand lotion, and more!

Finish one thing each day.

Work, social events, family, LIFE, can all become challenging and at times unbearable. What do I focus on? If I multitask, I can get all these tasks done sooner, right? The additional mental stress can at times take over and leave us feeling overwhelmed, anxious, and unsuccessful. Make a point each day to make a list and fully finish (at least) one thing. Then cross it off your list. Hooray! We all know it feels great to accomplish a task and dismiss it from our frazzled minds. This positive energy will be reinforcement. Pick the “to-do” item either based on a task that is “urgent and important” OR on something non-work related that you’ve been meaning to do just for yourself.

Which of these actions can you implement in your routine today? Incorporate as many as possible to give yourself the "re-fresh" you need, and notice the difference in how you look and feel! Share your best tips for re-energizing with the season, and thanks for reading!

Written by Becca Hurt, MS, RD, Program Manager of Life Time WeightLoss

This article is not intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations in this and other articles is at the choice and risk of the reader.

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