Guest Post by: Lynsey Brewer
I love fall. Yes, I’m one of those people! The season inspires people to start slowing down a bit, especially after summer months that are filled with vacations, cookouts, family visits, and later bedtimes. There are two areas that I am going to focus on within this post– mindsets and preparation. As you read along, jot down some ideas that you / your family can do to best prepare for the months ahead.
It’s not uncommon for people to constantly be on the go. We live in a society that is so hyper-focused on always having plans, that it’s almost strange if someone doesn’t have somewhere to be or something to do. I want to make it clear that it is great to do things! A big part of life is having those experiences and learning from them– good or bad– and making memories along the way. The flipside to that, is that it often brings people down to the point of exhaustion, and we typically don’t notice until it’s too late (both mentally and physically). I’m not urging anyone to stop making plans altogether, but I do challenge you to be more mindful of where you make commitments. Whether it’s you as an individual, your family, or in your work life.
Reflection is another key component of the mindset focus. The fall season seems to be the perfect time for me to think back about what I’ve achieved so far and what I still want to accomplish (although it’s important to set aside time to reflect throughout the year). The best part? There doesn’t have to be a deadline! Make a habit to reflect and de-clutter your mind throughout the year, so you have a head start on how to tackle the season(s) ahead.
Switching gears slightly–the first thing many people push to the backburner during the holiday season is their their nutrition and fitness routines. We always know when the stress will come with this time of year, so why not have a plan ready to go?
As a general rule of thumb, you should do your best to avoid processed foods as much as possible. If you can use that rule as your base, you can start chipping away at some other habits that might take longer to transition in the coming weeks (i.e. reducing dairy intake, not drinking as much caffeine or alcohol, avoiding late night snacks, etc.). You will feel so much better knowing that you took small, feasible steps in the weeks leading up to the holidays, rather than trying to rip off the band-aid for everything at once.
I also encourage you to eat at home as much as possible. This alone gives you so much more control of what you put into your/your family’s bodies, and it is a great way to get a little extra time that you might not have otherwise. The portions at restaurants are not only (at least) double the amount you should consume, but they are also filled with more salt, sugar, butter, etc. than you would ever consider using at home. There are so many resources online that provide recipes for every meal and occasion! I challenge you to turn off the tv or stay off social media for 30 minutes this week to research meals…and don’t forget to read the ingredients! Many recipes claim that they are healthy, but once you read the ingredients, you’ll quickly notice that they don’t match up. Dr. Kasey and I are more than happy to answer any questions you may have, so there really is no excuse to not try!
The fitness component is another area where planning is fundamental. As I mentioned on my podcast with Dr. Kasey, it’s important to shift the mindset from “working out” to “get moving” for many reasons. Our bodies are designed and built to move and be active. Most people have sedentary jobs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t plan ahead and avoid the risks that come with that type of work.
The best recommendation I can make for anyone– whether you’re younger, older, in school, stay-at-home parent, working a desk job, or on the road more than you’re at home– is to take the time to map out your average week. I say average, because life will always sneak up and happen where we don’t have control. Don’t focus on these things. I want you to draft how each day of your week looks, and then identify time blocks when you can move. Don’t see a lot of opportunities? Get creative! Can you go for a few short walks during the day? Can you park farther away in the parking lot? Can you get to the airport a little bit early and walk around the terminal? Or maybe eat snacks that you packed instead of opting for airport food (which also frees up some time for a walk during your layover)?
Another thing you might have to do is wake up 30 minutes early. I know– you’re not a morning person, you already don’t get enough sleep, your day is crazy and the thought of getting up even earlier is the last thing you want to do. There are a few things to think about here. How bad do you want to be healthy? What is your “why” that keeps you motivated? Everyone has a different reason, but if you truly want it bad enough, 30 minutes isn’t a lot when you think of all the positive benefits that come along with it.
Ready to hear some awesome perks? Drinking a glass of water when you wake up and starting your exercise will often give you more energy than your normal cup of morning coffee. Still not convinced? What about boosting your metabolism so your body is burning off the food that you are fueling it with…or lowering your blood pressure…or lowering your chance of heart disease…or getting those “feel-good” endorphins going so you have a great mindset to take on the day?
I don’t know about you, but when I think about all of the benefits, waking up 30 minutes earlier doesn’t really seem that bad. Honestly, it makes me even more motivated.
I hope this post inspires you to start the process of making some healthy changes, or at least motivates you to think about why you want to live a healthy, balanced lifestyle.
Make sure you keep your eyes peeled for posts in the coming weeks with tips on how to make this season one of your best! Dr. Kasey and I look forward to hearing your feedback, so please let us know if there are any topics you would like to see covered, or resource requests.