Forget about New Year’s resolutions! Spring and summer are much better times to jump-start your healthy habits. As opposed to mid-winter when it’s tough to get out and exercise, Spring is a time for reconnecting with the outdoors. Fresh fruits and vegetables also start to come into season, and are a little more affordable than the often expensive ““ and not so great tasting ““ produce we have access to during the winter months. Try these ideas to get started:
Make a list of ways to be physically active outside. Walking has the fewest obstacles ““ all you need is a good pair of sneakers and a destination. Plot out a few neighborhood walks and pick up a pedometer to track your steps (10,000 steps equals one mile). If possible, try walking to run your errands on the weekend. Check out the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation website to find a new nature walk to check out with a spouse or friend. And don’t let lack of a lot of time be an obstacle. Studies show that as little as ten minutes of physical activity provides health benefits. Don’t forget, “yard work” is how most people got their physical activity throughout most of history, so get out there and start digging!
Find a Farmer’s Markets are in your area. There’s nothing like seeing fresh fruits and vegetables right off the farm truck to inspire you to try something new. Ask the sales person how they’d recommend you prepare a new fruit or vegetable, or one you know you like but haven’t cooked before. Check out Mass.gov — which provides an interactive map to help you locate a farmers market near you.
Plan your meals around plants. A healthy “balanced plate” is half covered with vegetables and whole fruits. Trust me ““ you’ll remember to make the meat, poultry or seafood. It’s the veggies that are often an after-thought. Grill a large quantity of cut up peppers, zucchini, eggplant, summer squash, or any other vegetables you like on the weekends to have on hand during the week. Make a large salad using baby spinach (it lasts longer than Romaine or mesclun greens), grape tomatoes, sliced cucumbers, bell peppers, and other vegetables or fruits you think will last two or three days. That way it’s ready to eat when you are without any advanced preparation. Even better, eat a salad before every meal and still cover 50% of your plate with vegetables. It’s the best way to assure you’ll walk away full without feeling loaded down with calories!
This year, try viewing Memorial Day as your new “New Year’s” time to set some health promoting resolutions. With six to eight months of nice weather ahead, you’ll have plenty of time to solidify some new habits before next winter comes around!
After 12 years as a nutrition-based educator for Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates (HVMA), the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health’s Director of Nutrition Hillary Wright transitioned to a part-time position at Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston. She is also the founder of New Vision Nutrition in Arlington, Massachusetts — a private nutrition consulting practice that includes nutrition counseling, public speaking, and teaching nutrition to colleges and institutions. She is a contributing editor and regular writer for the newsletter “Environmental Nutrition” and is currently working with the Arlington Public Schools on grant-funded programs designed to increase nutrition, education and physical activity in the community. Hillary’s clinical interests include women’s health and nutritional management of polycycstic overy syndrome (PCOS).