No matter how hard I try during the winter, I never seem to exercise as consistently and eagerly as during spring and summer. This winter especially, piles of snow and ice put a damper on my walking routine. After getting in the habit of walking 2-3 miles per day in the fall, I’m eager to get back into my rhythm.
What about you? On a scale of 1-10, 10 being “I consistently exercised and ate healthfully during the winter,” how would you rate yourself? Are you proud of your winter accomplishments or are you ready to start anew and re-establish some healthier practices? Warmer, longer days, and lighter eating are a sure-fire way to help you kick the post-winter doldrums and help you feel better in your body.
I’m of the mind that no matter what you may have done yesterday, last week or over the last several months, there’s really no value in beating yourself up if you didn’t achieve your goals. Rather, why not start fresh with a renewed sense of vigor and energy by making a few small, but simple changes.
Here are three suggestions for healthy practices you can begin this week. Try one or try them all as you transition to spring:
1. Eat more greens! You may know that eating dark leafy greens is one of the best ways to cleanse your body during spring. Greens are not only a natural energizer (no caffeine needed!) but they help clear lung congestion, boost the immune system, detoxify your kidneys and liver, improve circulation and give your body a healthy rest from too many congesting foods such as meat, dairy and sugar. And with the plethora of delicious greens from which to choose (kale, collards, spinach, chard, bok choy, mustard greens, arugula, just to name a few), adding them to your diet doesn’t have to be hard. Here’s a recipe idea for a simple and tasty side dish that’s chock full of immune boosting nutrients your body will love.
2. Build in daily exercise. It’s so easy to put on weight during the winter when we’re usually less active and can fall off the wagon, yours truly included. But instead of vowing you’re going to exercise an hour a day, or something that might be unrealistic, why not consider what’s realistic for you? What about 10 or 20 minutes of exercise every day and then work up from there? I like to start simple, find a consistent rhythm that fits in my schedule and build on my success. Most days I do a 20-30 minute strength or cardio workout in the morning before work and then walk as much as I can during the day. Soon I plan to start walking to work so I can be more consistent in my mileage. What about you? What can you start doing this week to exercise that you would enjoy? In my book, brief and steady exercise that increases over time trumps the overly ambitious plan that never comes to fruition.
3. Scrape your tongue. In Ayurveda, the traditional medicine of India, one of the daily practices to stay healthy is tongue scraping (also known as tongue cleaning). This simple metal tool (or even a teaspoon will do the trick), removes the layer of toxins, bacteria and dead cells that accumulate on the tongue and can lead to bad breath. While brushing our teeth supports healthy gums and the prevention of plaque and tartar, brushing your tongue doesn’t adequately remove the toxins. This is an especially helpful practice as you focus on detoxing from heavy winter foods. I consistently scrape my tongue first thing when I get up in the morning before I do almost anything else. A tongue scraper is a simple tool to use and you can purchase one in your grocery store or local pharmacy.
Are you ready to embrace a lighter way to eat, more exercise and better health? Which of these three ideas can you start implementing this week? How can you develop some consistent spring habits?