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5 Healthy Habits to Start on Spring Break

“Nothing changes until you do.” This is probably one of my favorite sayings. If you have ever complained about not eating healthy enough, working too much, not having enough time for exercise, or not taking care of yourself the way you should then you have probably spent some time wishing things could change. Here are five ideas to help get you started and make more productive use of your spring break.

1. Take time to plan. Without a plan, you’re stuck with good intentions that you can’t execute. If you have extra time over spring break, do some personal reflection and goal setting. Think about one behavior at a time. What would you like to change about nutrition? Write it down. Continue this until you have a list of changes that have been on your mind. Which few do you believe are the most important behaviors to change and easiest to change? Start there. Be consistent. Don’t think about how far you have to go, think about what you will do today to work on that change. Here are a couple examples: I will eat two whole fruits a day. I will not snack in front of the TV or computer.

2. Clean out your pantry. Spring just screams “clean up” for some reason. Why not take a day to really get your pantry in order? Pull everything out and assess. Do you have a lot of packaged, heavily processed foods or snacks? What nourishing foods can you add to your pantry? Chances are, the less healthy stuff will find its way out. Here are just a few of my favorite pantry items: nuts, fresh and dried fruit, dried and canned beans, whole grains (whole wheat pasta, quinoa, cous cous, brown rice), canned salmon and tuna, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, salt-free dried herbs and spices.

3. Visit your local running or sporting goods store. The problem with exercising is we tend to assume it is something to suffer through. You don’t have to do any exercise that feels uncomfortable. Maybe you would have fun water jogging in a pool, hiking, or just simply walking after work. Use the time on spring break to take stock of your fitness equipment. Everyone can use a pair of shoes that fit well. Your local running store will give you a perfect fit based on your activities and foot structure. Don’t assume you have to squeeze yourself into spandex. Find at least one comfortable outfit that makes you look and feel good. You’ll be hitting the pavement or trails in no time.

4. Make a “don’t do” list. There’s never enough time in the day to prepare meals and exercise. If this is you, there’s too much on your plate. Period. It’s not a race to see how much you can squeeze into your calendar. There will always be work to do. Why not spend some time over spring break to make your first-ever “don’t do” list? All you need to do is think about what you are currently doing that eats up time in your day. Are you spending too much screen time – TV and computer? Volunteering too much? Pulling more than your fair share in the family? It’s time to delegate and get some help.

5. Love yourself. Most people would probably read this and say “well of course I love myself.” But if you really think about it, we are our own worst critics, especially when we know we need to change. We judge ourselves by so many things each day – what we weigh, what we put in our mouths, if we were too lazy to exercise, we’re not _____ enough. The reality is, the better you feel about yourself, the more positive you are, the more successful you will be. Over the spring break, write down three things about yourself you love, ask others what they love most about you, and then write down three negative things you will no longer tell yourself.

When you want to change habits, it can be daunting just thinking about where to start. That’s what’s so powerful about “Nothing changes until you do.” It reveals that change starts from within. It also says that you already have what you need to change. You don’t need to wait for someone to solve your problems. You can change your own life. Start now.

March 9th, 2010

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