Luckily for us, spring seems to be winning its annual battle against winter for the month of March. Predictions of early spring came last month when everyone’s favorite groundhog failed to see his shadow. And while we don’t usually trust scientific projections to the whims of large rodents, we have to admit he may have been right this year. While it’s easy to forgo nutritious habits and succumb to comfort food cravings in the depths of winter, the first warm weather days of spring have a way of re-energizing us. From wanting to get back into a workout routine to getting excited that fruits and vegetables are about to be more abundant, it’s a very empowering time of year. Unfortunately, it can be a little hard to shake off those winter blues. So without further ado, here are 5 spring-cleaning tips for your body and mind.
1. Focus on balanceAs we all know, winter has a way of seeing our workout routines slump and our healthy eating habits deteriorate. Come spring, some people feel the need to dive into a super intense daily workout and restrict their calories. This seldom ends well. Instead, try incorporating frequent walks as you begin to get back into your workouts and select a variety of nutritious foods as the bulk of your diet. Most meals and snacks should include a combination of less processed carbohydrates, lean protein, and healthy fats. This combination, together with controlled portions, can keep you nourished and energized. Some examples of balanced and quick meals perfect for March weather:
- Turkey sandwich on whole grain bread
- Salad with greens, tuna, tangerine slices, and walnuts
- Oatmeal with skim milk, strawberries, and a small handful of nuts
2. Eat your vegetablesVegetables are a mini multivitamin – packed with nutrients, high in fiber and water, and low in calories. It’s easy to start subbing in carbs when it gets cold and the varieties aren’t as plentiful in the grocery store, but now they’re coming back! To start incorporating them back into your diet, begin by eating a variety of cut up veggies (as a snack or added to lunch) 2- 3 times per week, with things like:
- Red Peppers
- Cherry Tomatoes
Allow for food indulgences Everyone needs a break sometimes. Try employing the 80/20 rule: 80% of the time, eat intentional meals that mix lean proteins, slow-burning carbohydrates, fiber, and plenty of nutrients. 20% of the time, treat yourself to the treats that bring you love—ice cream, your favorite dessert, a cheesy dip. Creating some allowances for yourself is good for your mind and has a place in a healthy lifestyle.
Stay hydratedWater is essential for every function of your body. It is natural, calorie-free, and boosts your metabolism. Even mild dehydration can induce headaches and make you feel tired. Carrying your favorite water bottle around can help you remember to drink often, and aim for 72 to 100 ounces per day. There are other options if you do not like plain water. Try drinking it with fresh mint or basil leaves, or with sliced fruit such as lemon, orange, or lime wedges, or slices of strawberries or peaches added. Or, try plain sparkling water with a splash of cranberry juice.
3. Enjoy healthy snacksSnacks play an important role in our busy lifestyles. Healthy snacks keep hunger under control, provide essential nutrients, and support a healthy weight. The right choices provide energy, help you focus, and keep your blood sugar in check. Try these healthy snacking tips:
- Focus on fruits and vegetables
- Include some lean protein such as chicken, non-fat yogurt, or nuts and seeds
- Watch your portions—aim for 150-200 calories
- Keep high fiber nutrition bars on hand to overcome temptations
- Avoid highly processed foods such as sugary cakes and cookies, refined starches such as white crackers, and fried foods