It's that time of year again - winter is almost over and spring and summer are approaching! This is a time when we usually think about spring cleaning for our homes and closets, but what about using this opportunity to spring clean your health?
When it comes to spring cleaning your health, it only makes sense to fall back on the four primary foods that I was introduced to during my time at the Institute of Integrative Nutrition: physical activity, spirituality, relationships, and career. Plus, I have to throw nutrition into that mix because what would your health be without it?!
This can be a difficult aspect of our health during the winter when going outside for a workout isn't always practical! However, there's never anytime better than the present to get started on a fitness routine. Generally, aiming for 3-4 days each week tends to be a doable amount of time for most people. Make sure to include a balance of cardio and strength - it's all too easy to just turn right to cardio and run or elliptical away for hours. But, all the amazing benefits for our metabolism, body fat percentage, bones, balance, mental health, and more come from the strength training aspect of fitness. Squats, pushups, lunges - these are all simple options that can be done almost anywhere and are easily adaptable to fit everyone's level! If you are unsure of where to start, find a trainer in your area for expert help and advice, even if it's just for a session or two!
It is so, so, so easy to lose touch with the spiritual side of our life, especially as our lives get super busy. However, our happiness and mental health tend to decline very quickly when we move away from important spiritual practices. Now, spirituality looks different to everyone as well. For me, going to church, spending time in prayer, meditating on certain readings or prayers, going to confession, journaling, and spending time in an empty church or adoration are the best ways for me to connect to my spiritual side. But for others, yoga or at home meditations are also ways to connect to the spiritual side of our nature. No matter what you choose, carve that time out each day to spend a few moments in a prayer, journaling, or deep breathing. It's a simple habit that could change the way you respond to life and all the stress that comes along with it!
Has the winter kept you shut in or have you lost contact with friends or family members? Spring is the perfect time to schedule a time with someone to meet for tea or to go on a walk outside (that way you get two for one!). Or, if you feel that your life is lacking relationships, it's time to get out of your comfort zone, meet new people, and make new friends! With the advent of social media all around us at each moment, it's easy to think that we are more connected that ever. However, I would argue that we have lost that aspect of face to face human connection, and that is such a vital aspect of our livelihood! Spend time with people that you can really trust and talk to - it makes such a huge difference!
Are you dreading work every day or do you feel fulfilled by the work you are doing? This might be the hardest of the aspects to "spring clean," but nevertheless, it deserves some careful thought and consideration. Is it time to consider a change? This change doesn't have to happen overnight - it could take place over the course of several months or years, but the point is still there. If the career you are in is draining you to the bones, it's time to consider making a change for your health and the health of your family too.
I saved the best for last! With spring and summer produce coming soon, it is the perfect opportunity to start moving towards building a real food plate versus continuing to fill your body with daily rounds of processed grains (cereal, bread, energy bars, pasta, etc), vegetable oils (canola, soy, corn), and refined and added sugars (real and artificial sweeteners!). Remove those foods and replace them with healthy animal protein (beef, eggs, chicken, turkey, pork), seafood, healthy fats (avocado, coconut oil, olives, olive oil), vegetables, and fruits. These simple swaps can be difficult at first, but it does get easier as your taste buds change! Your cells are literally built from the food that you feed it every day, so make sure you are choosing the best sources of nutrition! Spring cleaning your nutrition will make spring cleaning your overall health so much easier because you will be sleeping better, feeling amazing, losing weight, and thinking clearly.
What aspect of your life needs some spring cleaning? Now is the time to take action and make this spring and summer season filled with health and happiness!