This is the time of year to start taking your health into your own control. Yes, you should stay healthy all year, but winter tends to be the time when people let their health slip a little bit as they eat more and aren’t as physically active. Even if you take great care of yourself through the winter months, now is the time to get ready for a healthy spring.
It’s natural to slow down a bit during the colder months, but it’s time to stop storing energy (fat) and start using it. The days are starting to get a little longer and the weather a little warmer, so you’re probably feeling the need to get out and do something. If not, you should!
Just like spring cleaning for your home, this is the time to clean up your health program. Below are a few tips to get your ready for a healthy spring.
Clean up your diet
It’s normal to eat heavier meals through the winter and store a little extra body fat because of it, but there’s no need to carry that into the spring. Lighter meals will have you feeling more energized and won’t weigh you down, and if you keep the fiber intake high, it’ll be easier to manage your appetite.
The key to cleaning up your diet is to think about planning your meals out in advance and making sure you’ve got your shopping done ahead of time. Check the schedules of your local farmer’s market(s) and plan to stock up on locally-grown produce weekly. Seasonal fruits and vegetables add a level of excitement and variety to your meal planning, and it’s a great way to support the local economy.
Another thing to consider if you have the time and space is to start your own garden. There’s nothing as rewarding as keeping a constant rotation of your favorite foods growing right in your own yard.
For those times when you’re time constrained, you can also check out some of our suggestions for Raw Nutrition on the Go.
Drink more water
Keeping up with adequate water intake isn’t something most people think about, but it starts becoming more important as the weather gets warmer. You’ll be more active, sweating, and needing to replenish fluids, so be sure to drink enough water. Try to keep a stainless steel or another type of refillable water bottle with you when you’re on the go.
As an added benefit, increased water intake is one of the easiest ways to work on weight loss. Water is not only crucial to good health, it can also help boost your metabolism to a small degree. Water also helps flush your body of toxins, can help curb hunger, and shuttles around all the nutrients you need to stay energized all day.
Activity levels play a huge role in your overall health, from weight management to cardiovascular health to stress relief. Taking a short walk or going on a light jog are fine ways to burn calories and get your heart rate up, but try to get some weight workouts in when you can.
Cardiovascular exercise helps burn calories while you exercise, but weight training increases calorie burning for longer periods of times and can help keep bones and joints strong as you age. Even a few days of weight training each week can go a long way.
And don’t feel stuck with indoor exercise. The weather is getting nicer, so find ways to be active outdoors so you can soak up some fresh air, get a little bit of sunshine, and add some variety. Whatever you do, being active will not only help you stay healthy for the long- and short-term, it will also increase your sense of well-being better than just about anything else.
Cut back on alcohol
Cutting back on or eliminating alcohol intake can help with weight loss if that’s your goal, but alcohol can also cause dehydration and other issues, so there are plenty of reasons to reduce intake. The occasional glass of wine won’t derail your healthy spring plans but cutting back can replenish your energy and help with lean body composition.
Go through your pantry and fridge
Since you’re cleaning up your diet, you’ll obviously want to get rid of empty-calorie foods and sweet treats. This is also a good time to check expirations dates and find any foods that have been hiding behind containers while slowing starting to go bad.
Protect your skin
If you live in an area with real seasons, you’ve probably been cooped up inside longer than you’d like. We absolutely encourage everyone to get outside more as the weather warms up, but take the proper precautions.
If you haven’t been exposed to the sun in months, it’ll be easier to get sunburned as you begin to peel off the layers of clothing. While a bit of sun exposure is good for vitamin D levels, you want to avoid overexposure to harmful rays, so cover up with light clothing, hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen as needed.
Eating well, being active, and getting outdoors will work wonders for stress levels, but don’t take stress reduction for granted. Sometimes you have to be more proactive with it, so find time to unwind and follow our tips on how to Reduce the Effects of Stress.
Change your air filters
Spring is the time when everything’s blooming, and that means seasonal allergies can get out of control. Use the coming of spring as a reminder to check the condition of the HVAC filters in your home, cars, and anywhere else and replace as needed.
Empty the medicine cabinet
Your fridge and pantry aren’t the only places where you have to watch for expiration dates and things that can go bad. Go through your medicine cabinet and find any expired medications, cosmetics, or lotions.
If you find lotions, oils, or cosmetics without dates, open them up and take a quick sniff. It’s not usually hard to tell when something’s gone rancid, and you don’t want to deal with infections or other issues due to trying to use up the last few ounces of a product.
Get a wellness check
If you haven’t been to your health care practitioner for a while, even if you feel perfectly fine, this is a good time of the year to get an annual wellness check. A full checkup with blood tests is a great way to make sure nothing’s sneaking up on you and that there aren’t any dietary changes you need to make beyond those you’re already planning.