So how’s everyone doing?

This is a weird time of year. On the one hand, you might be motivated to eat right and exercise because spring and summer are right around the corner, and that means things like shorts, sundresses and bathing suits.

On the other hand, in most parts of the U.S. it’s dark, it’s cold, it’s damp. There may be snow. It may feel like it’s been this way forever and it’s never going to change. Ever. How can you possibly be motivated to do anything healthy when you just want to curl up under your comforter until the last spring frost has passed?

I personally might feel either way, depending on the day, the hour, the minute. I have a nice little collection of summer skirts and sundresses that I bought since the fall (I like to shop out of season), and thinking about wearing them can be pretty motivating. But around this time every year, the weather really starts to get to me. It just becomes a grind. Yes, I know that the amount of daylight has been increasing since the winter solstice in December, but it’s not happening fast enough!

So what to do? On those days when my motivation is flagging and free time is in short supply, I focus on the little things.

When I don’t feel like exercising, I make myself change into my workout clothes and at least start…I can always stop in 10 minutes if I’m still not in the mood. Only that never happens. I’ve never ditched a lifting session or turned around on a walk only a few minutes in. It’s the starting that’s the real hurdle.

Don’t have the time or energy to cook a delicious healthy meal? Not a problem. I always make sure I have a variety of healthy food in the house, even during weeks when I have no meal plans in mind (which isn’t ideal, but it happens). Salad fixings, fruit, plain yogurt, milk, whole grain bread, nut butters, eggs. And we of course have our freezer full of local beef and pork. I keep a well-stocked pantry, with dried beans and grains, canned tomatoes and coconut milk, whole grain pasta, canned chilies, salsa, curry pastes, etc.

At minimum, I can always throw together a tasty, healthy salad in a few minutes. Or make a smoothie. Or scramble a few eggs. When things are crazy and I can’t bring myself to plan meals, I just focus on three things:

  1. Eating fruit with breakfast and for snacks and vegetables with lunch and dinner. 
  2. Not eating too much. 
  3. Drinking enough water. 

Managing those three things seems to take care of the rest.

Sometimes, moving toward optimal health is about the little things. On any given day, no matter how crazy life gets or how unmotivated you feel, you can find three small things you can do for your health. Drink a glass of water. Eat a piece of fruit. Stop for a moment to take a few deep breaths. Go for a short walk. Do a few yoga poses. Eat dinner off a smaller plate. Go to bed on time. Get up out of your desk chair once an hour, even if only for a minute or two. Hug your partner or your children.

You can do it. You can!