Spring Cleaning for Wellness
What are you ditchin’? Here are 8 suggestions.
Ah, we’ll soon have that old spring in our step as we spring back into action while spring finally springs!! Uhmmm, yep, I just want to say “spring” as frequently as humanly possible, now that w-w-winter (that one’s so much rougher to spit out) is closer to waning. Woohoo, we’ve just about made it through the toughest season of the year (for most of us, anyway)! In a few weeks, maybe less if we're lucky, we can hike, hit the bike trails, plan a picnic or a road trip, or just raise our faces to the sunshine.
But hold up. It’s still the tail end of cabin-fever season, right? Know what that signals? The PERFECT time to spring clean. I know, none of us are really jumping for joy over that prospect. Maybe this will excite you a tad more—”cleaning up” all things wellness-related in your life. Or even just SOME things. Here are 8 categories to consider. Streamlining them may even just make spring (at least, spring health & fitness efforts) MORE enjoyable.
1. So-So Foods & Such
Ever find yourself eating something and realizing you don’t even like it that much, but it was just THERE in the cupboard or fridge? It’s one thing to tolerate some veggies when you really want cookies—because you know the benefits. Eating just to eat, though, inevitably leaves us feeling dissatisfied, not to mention possibly annoyed with ourselves. Now, is a great time to purge the food stocks and to clear countertops of most things edible. Interestingly, in a 2015 study published in the International Journal of Obesity, researchers observed two groups of people—those with obesity and those without—and found the former group tended to keep food out in the open, not only in the kitchen, but in various rooms of the house. While researchers don’t know whether the environment contributed to obesity or vice versa, it’s safe to say that expunging junky items you don’t even love will only support health.
2. Thoughts that Undermine
Every once in a while, it really helps to take inventory of the kinds of things you’re assuming or telling yourself or stuck thinking when you’d prefer not to be thinking them. It might sound silly to spring clean your brain, but noticing even one negative thought you’re holding onto, like some outdated pair of pants, and dragging it out into the light can really improve quality of life. For example, if you’re admonishing yourself for some perceived flaw in your appearance, maybe it’s time to explore specifically why you're zeroing in on this aspect of yourself and/or to decide your body is one beautiful machine. Exploring thoughts leads to positive change.
I hope you’ve never had the experience of falling off a faulty cardio machine or had a resistance band break & snap your body like a whip. “Stuff” happens, man, and it can be ugly. If your elliptical is clicking, your treadmill keeps turning off, your bike frame has bent, your weight bench has rusted, your strength training tubing is frayed, and/or so on & so forth, then the time has come to take anything irreparable to the curb. It’s really not worth the risk of injury.
Ill-Fitting Clothes & Shoes
Wearing sneakers that are worn & old or fitness togs that are too tight? Then chafing, blisters, foot pain, and achy joints just might join you for a workout. Sometimes we don’t want to “waste” money on new shoes or just can’t throw away clothes that practically still have tags on them. The problem is, we’ll pay in some other way if we don’t just toss (or donate) them. Either you’ll be very uncomfortable (and potentially less motivated as a result) during exercise or, worse, suffer a minor injury that waylays future workouts or simply lessens performance.
Workouts that Don’t Wow
Many people say they hate exercise. Most just might be forcing themselves to do things they really don’t enjoy. We all have to do enough tasks throughout the day that don’t appeal to us, so why pick workouts that feel intolerable? It probably comes down to the fact that the exercise field lays a lot of “shoulds” on us. You “should” be sweating, working your butt off, gritting your teeth, etc. There are SO many ways to exercise—from walking, which the body does naturally, to jumping on a mini trampouline, which is going to feel a little more foreign but possibly also hilariously fun—that we shouldn’t settle for drudgery. Dump the depressing workouts and explore something more inspiring. By the way, your chances of exercising regularly increase if you LIKE it.
Outside Opinions that Feel "Off"
Sometimes I feel like I’m perpetually sifting opinions, recommendations, & advice through my brain, seeking the nuggets of gold. This takes effort, but it’s worth it. Over time, the process has smoothed out more & more, often allowing unhelpful or misguided info to be discarded more quickly. Is someone constantly telling you, it’s okay you never exercise, it’s winter after all, & you shouldn’t be so hard on yourself? Deep down, we know a day, maybe a week off, is fine, but longterm skipping isn’t in our best interest. Conversely, have you firmly adopted the “no pain, no gain” advice that’s been floating around for decades, but you KNOW that pain warns of impending injury? Have you dropped ALL carbs (even though you realize they serve a purpose) and now feel physically & mentally out of whack? A fresh spring start might well include thinking critically & walking away from such ineffective advice.
One Not-So-Helpful Habit
Just one. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Just cast aside a single, repetitive action that undermines wellness. Could be staring at a screen til 1am. Or snacking at 11pm. Or hitting snooze when you’d planned to hop on the basement spin bike. Or planning to grocery shop during rush hour, which only stresses you out and sends you "off list," buying stuff you didn't want til your teeth were gritting. If you’re doing ALL of these things (or some similar collection of them), don’t fall into paralysis. A cool thing happens when we change ONE habit: Confidence increases and we change more habits.
I mean TRULY thin ones, excuses that even make YOU raise an eyebrow. At times, we all need a break from daily workouts. Sometimes take-out really does soothe the soul. Plenty of days, sleep SHOULD trump activity. (In fact, without the foundation of proper sleep, we slam into a huge obstacle to wellness efforts.) But then there are the excuses that do not hold up. “It’s too cold to get out of bed.” “This workout stuff never pays off.” “My kids need me to do that puzzle with them.” “The dog ate my shoes.” You get the picture. Don’t shortchange yourself.
Keep that spring countdown going and ditch the detrimental. If one thing is true, it’s that time DOES pass, relentlessly. Set yourself up now for a season of priceless wellbeing.