The Importance of Routine
Post by Olivia Martino, Registered Dietitian and Co-Owner, Nourish Northwest
I have enjoyed every bit of sunshine that we got this beautiful, long-lasting summer but I have to admit that I am seriously ready for fall. I’m not ready for the cold, the rain and the darker evenings but I am really craving the routine that comes along with this season. I had some wonderful times this summer camping, partying, barbecuing, river floating and laying in the sun but am emerging from the season feeling a little less healthy and a little more out of shape.
I’m a Capricorn, Type A personality and a dietitian. Collectively, these aspects of my personality mean that I’m organized, slightly rigid and “obsessed with time management.” While I used to try and run from these traits, afraid that I was becoming too uptight, I’m now learning to embrace who I really am and finding the benefit in the aspects of myself that I used to think of as undesirable.
Developing a healthy routine is something I often talk to my clients about. I truly believe scheduling exercise, meal planning and preparation and even relaxation time are essential to good health. Most people feel that their schedules are too busy to fit in exercise and cooking. We are all busy and it is a challenge to fit these things in, but it can be done. It may just mean reorganizing and re-prioritizing and therefore the first step is really wanting to be healthy. If you don’t see exercise and nutrition as important, then your other daily tasks will always take precedent. Unfortunately, the one thing I can’t do as a dietitian is make you want it. You have to find that within. So, if you are already there and really want to make some healthy changes, follow these tips to start and develop a plan.
Examine your daily or weekly routine
Take one weekday and one weekend day as an example and write down how you typically spend each hour of those days. This should probably give you a good idea right away of where you have extra time. If it’s not so apparent, think a little bit more about things you do that take up several minutes throughout the day. Are you spending a lot of time on your phone or the computer? Watching tv? What about your sleep patterns? Are you going to bed really late and sleeping right up until you have to rush out of bed to get ready for work? If you went to bed just a little bit earlier, could you squeeze in a half hour workout in the morning? What about breaks at work and lunchtime?
Schedule in your healthy activities
Throughout your week, find some time slots for meal planing, grocery shopping, meal prep, exercise and relaxation. It seems crazy to have to schedule in relaxation, but sometimes it’s the only way to make sure it happens. For meal planning, you only need about 15 minutes. This is a good thing to do on a weekend, shortly before your grocery shopping trip. Gather your recipes, talk to your family and decide on a few meals you want to eat that week. Keep them simple and don’t be afraid to eat the same thing more than once. From the meal plan, make a grocery list. Then set aside time for your shopping.
For meal preparation, I recommend setting aside a couple of hours on a Sunday to prepare large amounts of a few recipes to get you through most of the week. That way you only have to cook again one or two more times, mid week. This frees up more time in the evening for that exercise you were having trouble fitting in.
For exercise, I recommend scheduling in at least 3 days of organized activity. Mornings can be tough for many but exercising first thing assures that you get it done. I know it’s hard, but can you get up just a little bit earlier? Another benefit of morning exercise is that it sets you up for success the rest of the day. Your brain is awake and alert, making you more productive at work. You feel good and want to make healthy food choices and you are getting your metabolism up and running early on.
If the morning time is not going to work for you, if possible get it done right after work. Make sure you have packed your workout clothes with you, eat a small snack and get straight to the gym. If you walk in the house before getting your exercise in, you will immediately realize that the kitchen needs to be cleaned, the laundry needs to be folded and you have to pay the bills. Then you’ll get hungry and it will be dinner time. Before you know it, the workout hasn’t happened.
Write down your schedule
Make yourself a calendar that includes the above activities and stick it somewhere you will see it. Whether this be the fridge, the mirror or your phone, put it somewhere you can see it and easily access it.
Stick to your schedule
This is the hardest one. Things may come up that sound a little more tempting than exercising or grocery shopping. But think of your healthy behaviors as important as any work or household task. Think of them as things that must be done. If something really important comes up at the same time then make sure you reschedule your workout or meal prep to another time that day.
If you need assistance with meal planning, finding healthy recipes, learning basic cooking skills or want to take some fitness classes, then contact us today at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-234-7280!