Summer is speeding towards its conclusion, which means it's time for "Back To School" season. Though this probably means trudging around stores looking for school supplies and new fall outfits for your kids, it’s also a significant period of change for you. The routines you and your family have built over the summer months of traveling to and from summer camps, pools, and other fun activities will be over. Instead, every weekday will be centered around the school schedule.
While it's nice to appreciate regaining a lot of your time during the back-to-school period, it's an ideal moment to focus on establishing habits to help you get on track with your healthy lifestyle goals for the year.
To help you out, we've devised a five day plan of one easy habit per day to correspond with the first five days of school:
Day 1: Get breakfast organized
Breakfast tends to take a back seat during summer vacation. Because the kids don’t have to be up and ready for school in the early hours, you have more time to get organized. With the frantic pace of the school year, though, this isn't the case. Instead, you're left grabbing whatever you can to eat, however unhealthy. By getting into the habit of planning your weekday breakfasts, you can avoid those unhealthy pitfalls that are so easy to fall into.
When grocery shopping, we often don't think about breakfast as a meal. We pick a variety of hearty meats and vegetables for dinner but then settle on a box of sugary cereal for breakfast. Instead, try some hearty oatmeal or even a nutritious green smoothie. Whatever it may be, try to ensure it's substantial - a meal filling enough to keep you going until lunchtime.
Day 2: Get some exercise
When it comes to the fall, it's easy to let our exercise habits drop off. Depending on where you live, the weather outside probably isn't quite as nice and perhaps there isn't the same incentive to look "beach ready.” By establishing an exercise habit, even a small one, early in the school year, you can make sure your health and physical fitness stay on track until next summer. Even if it's something small like going for a walk around lunchtime.
You can also set yourself up for success by placing simple triggers around the house to remind yourself to exercise. Maybe try putting your workout clothes front and center in your closet so every time you open it, it's just that little bit easier to go for a run. Or try packing your gym bag the night before and leaving it by the front door so it's easy to grab and take with you when you leave for the day.
If you're feeling really determined, pay for a weekly exercise class. Habits have a better chance of sticking when you've actually committed money to doing something. Alternatively, find a friend to act as your workout partner. By encouraging each other and keeping one another accountable, you can make sure neither of you miss too many workout sessions.
Day 3: Cut out one unhealthy eating habit
Setting yourself up for a healthier lifestyle isn't just about forming new habits. It's also about breaking old ones. The bad ones. We all have them - whether it's drinking soda, munching on candy, or ordering takeout three times a week. In your head, these bad habits are often treated as "one-offs", but if you're honest with yourself, you know they're much more frequent than you'd like them to be.
Breaking these bad habits is as important as forming healthy new ones. After all, what's the point of going for a jog each morning if you then turn around and snack on some candy in place of lunch?
Try to focus on breaking one bad habit at a time. It’s tempting to try to fight all your bad faux-pas at once, but it’s much more effective to break one bad habit before moving on to the next one. A good tactic is to find a "good" habit to take the place of a bad one. Perhaps anytime you're craving your favorite candy bar, go for a walk instead. You'll find, as long as you focus on your new healthy habit, your craving for that candy bar will soon go away. Plus, all of a sudden, you've got a great exercise habit in its place!
Day 4: Write a grocery list and stick to it
When it comes to forming healthy eating habits, it's a lot easier to do so when healthy food is available. Makes sense, right? That's why focussing on healthy eating extends to what you buy and where you buy it.
Many people get into trouble when they go shopping. In fact, here's a secret you may already know: supermarket layouts are specifically designed to wear your willpower down. Ever wondered why all the unhealthy snacks are in the last aisle of the store when you're tired and just want to leave and go home? You figure: what's the harm of throwing another family-sized bag of potato chips into the cart?
It's possible to combat this, though, by formulating a plan for grocery shopping before you even reach the store. Try writing a comprehensive list of everything you absolutely need to buy before you leave and stick to it! Create a rule for yourself: if it's not on the list, don't put it in the cart. You'll find it much easier to avoid the unhealthy foods. And when you're home you'll have only healthy foods and snacks on hand.
Another way to combat the temptations of unhealthy grocery store food is to try shopping at different places. If you're lucky enough to have a farmers' market nearby, see if you can do the bulk of your grocery shopping there. It’s far less likely that there will be a huge selection of unhealthy foods to tempt you.
Day 5: Start collecting healthy recipes
Another significant part of planning ahead in order to eat healthy is knowing how to prepare your food once you've bought it. Keeping a repository of healthy recipes is a great way to help you not only prepare your meals but to ensure you can plan ahead and have what you need in stock. Start building a collection of your favorite recipes and continue to add to it as you come across new ideas you'd like to try. There are many ways to keep your recipes organized:
Evernote: an app available across devices that enables you to store everything from scanned images to webpages. It even has a tagging system so you can sort your recipes by ingredients.
A good old-fashioned notebook: buy a notebook and start writing out your recipes by hand.
With your recipes organized and on hand, you'll be far more likely to incorporate them into your regular cooking.
There you have it! Your five day plan to reboot your healthy lifestyle. By starting these habits one day at a time, you’ll build up momentum to start the new school year on the right track!
For more ideas on how you can reboot your healthy eating, schedule a call with a nutrition coach today!