Spring Clean Your Health Habits

April 1, 2020 | by jamie beeson

Winter brings with it more than Christmas, snow, and shorter days. It’s often partnered with a few extra pounds and unhealthy habits. Let’s unpack what we’ve been packing and see if we can do some spring-cleaning with our health habits.

Spring-cleaning isn’t necessarily synonymous with clean eating. While clean eating carries essential principles, in many cases, it might also insinuate cutting out, cutting back, and cutting down on all of the things you've grown to love over the winter. What if we take a different approach and focus on what we should add instead of what we should remove? When spring-cleaning a closet, there are things we will toss, but it’s also likely that the closet needs some reorganization. We might decide to add some shelves, color-coded box labels, or nice stackable drawers. Let’s think of this as a reorganizing of our habits. We'll add some things that help us reset.

Stand up.

Shorter days, longer nights, and colder temps bring us inside more often and lead to less activity and more sitting. So, let’s start by standing up! You can burn 40-140 more calories standing each hour than sitting. In spring and summer, we are on our feet a few more hours into the evenings than we are in the winter. That could mean we'd burn up to 980 more calories a week, which is 1.2 pounds per month! You don’t have to stop at standing (feel free to get moving) but standing seems to be an easy first step or first stand, not even a step.

Drink more.

It’s not uncommon to drink less water during the colder months. We don’t think of dehydration as a winter problem, but it sure is! Dehydration can lead to significant health risks, but it also tricks our brains into thinking we’re hungry when we’re actually thirsty. It dulls our ability to have accurate full signals and can even mess with our metabolism. Start by placing a glass of water on your nightstand before bed. Before your feet hit the floor, drink up!

Refresh your pantry.

It’s amazing what we collect in our winter pantries. Take an hour and get rid of things you don’t need, like baking items, extra pasta, or leftover snacks from parties and winter festivities. Create space for lighter options with easier access and visibility for your next grocery run.

Start a new nighttime routine.

Sitting in the evening can lead to a lot of mindless eating, which seems to produce habits that tend to stick a lot longer and are harder to stop than we’d like! Come up with a fresh, new spring routine to implement. Maybe it’s a brisk walk after dinner since the sun is out longer. Perhaps you listen to a new audiobook while doing laundry in the evenings to free up time on the weekend for fun!

Make veggies take the front row.

Reorganize your fridge and put fresh cut fruits and veggies into clear containers in the front, right at eye- and hand-reaching level. The appealing colors and ease of grabbing precut snacks will allow fruits and veggies to show up more, crowding out the less healthy alternatives.

Find your springtime sweet.

Winter is candy and treats season. From Halloween until Easter, we fill our pantries, countertops, refrigerators, and bellies with sugary treats. Take some time to play with some sweet treat replacements. Chocolate Covered Katie has an online blog that is one of my favorite places to find a sweet treat with more nutritional benefits and less sugar. Maybe fruit is enough of a switch for you, or you might like trying Hint, a fruit infused water with no additives or sweeteners.

Eat mindfully.

Make the plan before you’re hungry. Eat food while doing nothing else so that you can pay attention to when you are satisfied. Enjoy the bite and chew longer. Put your fork down in between bites. Slowly enjoying your food and thoughtfully choosing what you eat will replace the habit of “grab and go” and eating to fill time, ease boredom, or energize your exhaustion.

You don’t have to implement all seven ideas tonight, or Monday, or by the 1st of May. Perhaps start with one suggestion and allow the motivation and momentum to lead you to the next? Many of these things will be enough to trigger other good habits. Much like setting up a row of dominoes, push one, and the others will fall into place.

Spring-cleaning seems overwhelming at first, but once you start and begin to see progress, it leaves you with a satisfied sigh of accomplishment. You'll get that same feeling with these steps too. Try cleaning the pantry first and notice how much better you feel already!

Originally printed in the April 2020 issue of Simply Local Magazine

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