Fall into a Healthy Routine
September brings cooler temperatures, pumpkin-spiced everything, and the transition from laid back summer vibes to more structured school or work schedules. Suddenly our mornings feel busier, clients are back from vacations with new demands, and we’ve got packed lunches on the brain. Luckily, with the change of seasons comes the opportunity to re-evaluate our health goals and observe what stands in our way of reaching them. We’ve got ten tips to help you embrace a new routine with ease while keeping your wellness (and sanity) in check.
Plan, baby, plan
Sure it may sound boring, but being organized is key to creating and implementing healthy changes in your routine. A little preparation can go a long way. While this will take some energy, it will eventually feel like it requires minimal effort.
Revamp your fall routine with these 10 tips:
1. Write down your goal.
A straightforward and important first step is to identify what health goal you want to achieve and write it down. Remember, small steps lead to big change. Keep your goal in mind as you structure daily and weekly activities so you can prioritize actions that serve this goal. Keep it realistic, and find ways to track and measure your progress.
2. Plan 3 dinner meals.
Planning out an entire week’s worth of meals may not be your thing. No worries—try planning just three weeknight dinners at a time. This allows flexibility should your schedule shift, and prevents waste from perishable items that don’t get used. Try simple dinners that take minimal prep time and take advantage of the Crockpot during the cooler months. Just knowing what to prepare will save you mental energy. Read more about food prep here.
3. Double it up.
When preparing breakfast, lunch, or dinner, try to double (or triple) your servings. Less time and effort is used making larger quantities of the same food than starting from scratch with multiple clean-ups required. Try making a large batch of overnight oats or chia pudding to get you through several breakfast meals. Ready-to-eat food at your fingertips will save precious time when the morning rush hits. Pre-packing several lunches for the week can be a great time saver.
4. Have a back up meal in your pantry.
Having a healthy “go to” meal with limited perishable ingredients can save you in a pinch. For example, whole grain noodles with pesto and white beans can be served in a flashed. Chicken sausage with frozen vegetables is a quick freezer-ready meal (thanks @joe_ascendcycle). Stock up on a few options and replenish as needed so you always have nourishing food at hand.
5. Balance your meals.
Beyond planning when you will eat, emphasis should be placed on what you eat. Balancing out your meals with fiber, good quality protein, and healthy fats will keep you satisfied and ensure that your blood sugar levels stay in check between meals. Adding a mix of fresh and cooked vegetables will supply your body with vitamins and minerals.
6. Be prepared with healthy snacks.
Stash nutritious snacks at your desk, in your purse or bag, or your car (especially if you have children) so that you are well prepared to keep hunger (and tantrums) at bay.
7. Use a meal or grocery delivery service.
If you are truly pinched for time, using a meal delivery service may be worth the cost. Joining this growing industry are many companies that offer healthy meals with options to fit your lifestyle and dietary preferences. Check out @territoryfoods (located here in Del Ray) or @vegetableandbutcher serving parts of the DMV. For groceries, many stores offer online ordering or delivery. Some stores offer discounts on first orders.
8. Create a new morning and evening routine.
This is a big one, folks. How you choose to start your morning can set the tone for the entire day. First, try to get enough sleep so you can wake up a little earlier and have some designated time for yourself. Fit in a workout, enjoy a cup of coffee or tea while reading the news, listen to a podcast and make your to-do list, meditate, take the dog for a longer walk—whatever makes you feel calm and mindful is worth sacrificing a few extra minutes of shut eye. If you struggle with waking up early, try incorporating healthy habits into your routine such as drinking lemon water upon waking, eating a healthy breakfast, or setting your intentions for the day.
Evening routines are also valuable. Go for a walk, read, take a bath, phone a friend, unwind and connect with others or spend a little time reconnecting with you. Then, spend a little time planning for the next day. Prep your breakfast or lunch, pre-set the coffee maker, pack your workout gear; these small steps can help make your morning run more smoothly which keeps you (and those around you) more calm.
9. Beat the afternoon slump.
If you’re prone to the afternoon slump, try eating frequent small meals to keep energy levels stable. Resist the sugar or caffeine cravings and reach for tea or herbal tonics. Recharge outdoors with some fresh air. Just a short break outside can do wonders for managing stress, which in turn, steers us towards making healthier choices. Be prepared with options and act before sluggishness sets in.
10. Schedule your workouts.
Obviously, we saved the best for last! Scheduling your workouts is an excellent way to prioritize your fitness. Hence, why the Ascend schedule opens every Sunday at 4:00 pm for the next two weeks. Plus, we’re more likely to show up when exercise becomes social. So grab a bike and come sweat with your friends in the community!
We hope these tips inspire you to make small changes in your fall routine that can lead to long-lasting wellness.
Blogpost written by Ascend content expert, Ashley H.