It seems like we wait all year for summer to arrive when we can finally relax, unwind, and have some fun. Once Memorial Day hits, vacations, BBQs, and other festivities fill our weeks and weekends and before we know it, it’s time to start thinking and planning for Back to School. We should begin to set our sights on the upcoming fall season and how to keep our bodies and minds healthy and happy as the weather starts to cool and the festivities slow.
If we take some time to slow down and start planning now, we can easily transition into the cooler months without skipping a beat on our healthy habits. Keep on reading for a few habits to consider incorporating into your routine to keep you healthy and sane as we head into the fall.
- Plan and meal prep for you and your family. Don’t let busy and stressful days turn into dinners from the closest drive-thru lane. Get into the habit of thinking about the week ahead and the breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that will need to be prepared. Plan out several of these meals by writing a list of ingredients for each meal, stocking up on those ingredients, and spending a few hours on the weekend making dishes that can be reheated for a quick and healthy meal. Leftovers can also be fun and delicious by adding in extra veggies, grains, sauces, and spices to a previously prepared dish. Meal prep has been shown to save money, ultimately save time, help you stay on track with your health and fitness goals, contribute to a more nutritionally balanced diet, and reduce the stress of making last minute decisions about what to eat. Make it a family affair by recruiting the kids to help brainstorm, plan, shop, and prep!
- Eat local. Take advantage of local farmers markets to enjoy fresh, local, and inexpensive produce. Check out various farmer’s markets in the area for fresh fruits and vegetables to add to your weekly meal rotations. Aim to eat a rainbow of colors (reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, purples, and whites) to get a full range of nutrients in your diet and try to seek out some foods you’ve never tried before. Next time you’re at your market pick up some of Maryland’s freshest August produce including beets, blueberries, cucumbers, cantaloupe, eggplant, snap peas, onions and summer squash. You never know when you’ll find your new favorite veggie! Shopping at farmer’s markets supports your wallet, your waist, and the environment. Win-win situation all around!
- Try something new. Take the opportunity before life starts to speed up again to try a new group fitness class, schedule a session with a new personal trainer, or even check out Merritt’s Tribe program. Make it a social endeavor by grabbing your friends and make a day of it. Working out in a group setting has been shown to lead to the release of endorphins even more so than just from exercising alone, which makes you feel great and helps you to push yourself even harder through workouts. Sunday Funday brunch never tasted so good after a quality sweat session with your pals.
- Prioritize self-care. It’s easy to fall into the pattern of taking care of everyone around you while forgetting about the most important person of all: you. It’s difficult to support those closest to you when you’re not taking proper care of yourself. Make sure you are getting adequate sleep, exercising regularly, eating a nutritionally sound diet, minimizing stress through mindfulness practices, and lastly, making time for things you truly enjoy, whether that’s spending time outdoors, traveling, or even curling up on the couch and binge-watching reality TV. Studies show that individuals who take these essential steps have less depression, anxiety, and illnesses such as heart disease.
As the seasons change and we transition back into our routines it’s important to take steps to keep ourselves sane and healthy. Consider these tips as the days get shorter, the temperatures cool, and the kiddos head back to school.