I always look forward to the first day of spring. It signals the promise of warmer weather, longer days, flowers, farmers markets … and spring cleaning! I love taking the time to store winter clothes, scrub down my home and donate items I no longer need.
So, why not apply “spring cleaning” principles to revamp your schedule and health priorities? For instance, do you have enough time to prepare and eat balanced meals and exercise? When was the last time you didn’t leave in a rush? How often do you feel stressed out, even before you get to work? There are many things in our everyday lives that can take a toll on our health and overall well-being.
4 Tips to “Spring Clean” Your Health
Set S.M.A.R.T. Goals
First, come up with one to three goals that are important to you. Make them S.M.A.R.T.: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. For instance, say you want to exercise more to improve your energy level. Your goal should include: when you will exercise (example: in the morning), what days you will exercise (example: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays), how long you will exercise (example: 45 minutes per day) and when you will re-assess your goal (example: every third week).
Track Your Progress and Adjust Your Goals if Needed
Whether you do this with an app, on paper or in an online file, tracking is an effective strategy for assessing if you’re making positive progress and whether the goal is too lofty or too small. Too lofty? Make the goals more realistic. Instead of committing to three days a week, try twice a week. Or, make the workout shorter. Too small? Increase the time, frequency or intensity of your physical activity.
Identify Your Roadblocks
Next, with your goals in mind, visualize your “perfect day” when it comes to your routine and your health. This is a helpful tool in deciphering what parts of your day are supporting your goals and which parts are holding you back. If your goal is to exercise in the morning, you may have to adjust when you wake up. If you are staying up too late, you are less likely to accomplish this goal. Is it possible to go to bed 30 to 60 minutes earlier the night before a workout? Or, can you schedule a 20-minute nap the afternoon after a workout? Can you lay out your workout clothes and a healthy snack the night before?
Is accountability your Achilles’ heel? Tell a supportive friend or family member your plan. Have a discussion about what you’re doing and why, and ask him or her for some backup. You could ask your supporter to call you on the days you plan to exercise to keep you on track. Or, if your friend or relative is also looking for a healthy change, you could work out an arrangement to get you both exercising, such as alternating days picking kids up from school.
Here’s My Spring Cleaning Health Goal and Plan
My Current Routine
I buy prepared foods more than I like or feel is healthy.
I would like to spend less money on prepared food and have more home-cooked meals.
Time to cook full meals during the week is limited. If I have extra time, I often lack motivation or am too tired at the end of the day to make the nutritious meal I desire.
My Realistic Goal
Prepare multiple meals on days when I have more time. I will shop for groceries with a list of specific recipes and a strategy for prep.
My Revamped Routine
I will plan and write down my menu for the next week on Thursday or Friday (having an ongoing list helps) and go grocery shopping after work on Friday.
Re-organizing your schedule may take a few tries, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away. Implementing any new system takes time, so be patient. Whatever your health goal is, if it will make you feel better, calmer, less stressed or more fit, it is worth cleaning up your routine to do it.