September has always been an opportunity for students to make a fresh start, but just because you’re not returning to a new classroom this year doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate a new beginning, too. After a summer of seasonal treats, September is the perfect opportunity to ‘fall’ back into a healthy routine.
“Most people wait until January to make a resolution and recommit to their health, but waiting until after the holidays can make it more difficult to get started,” explains Madelaine Saldivar, MD, internal medicine specialist at Lankenau Medical Center. “When it comes to getting back to healthy habits, sooner is always better than later.”
Of course, this can be easier said than done during back-to-school season, when free time is limited and precious. Below, Dr. Saldivar offers tips for busy parents and professionals who are hoping to make a return to a healthy lifestyle.
Chances are your phone is full of appointments, meetings and reminders all clamoring for your attention. Do any of them remind you to work out?
“Exercise is one of the most important commitments you can make. It should be plugged into your calendar next to everything else,” says Dr. Saldivar.
Before the week begins, identify opportunities in your days for bouts of exercise, whether it’s a quick 15-minute walk or an hour-long session at the gym early on Saturday morning. Treat it with the same importance you would any other meeting.
The same diligent planning can benefit your diet. Rather than resorting to the drive-thru because you’re missing the ingredients you need for a quick meal at home or don’t have the time to whip something up quickly, plan ahead every Saturday or Sunday with a week of make-ahead meals so you won’t be stuck.
Ask for help
If you have the resources to afford a personal trainer, they can be the perfect motivator to get moving every morning. If you don’t, try partnering up with a friend for your workouts instead. Having a set time to meet a partner for a workout can help keep you accountable, and challenge you to work a little harder on the days when you were hoping to take it easy.
The gym isn’t the only place you can ask for help. Thanks to new meal delivery services, there’s plenty of ways for busy parents to have fresh ingredients delivered to their door.
“Meal delivery services like Blue Apron and Plated deliver the ingredients you need to make healthy meals for your family, and even grocery stores will deliver your groceries to you if you order them online,” says Dr. Saldivar. “Time is precious, but there are more opportunities than ever to have nutritious meals and ingredients delivered to you conveniently.”
Make it a family affair
Many parents find it difficult to exercise during the school year because of time constraints and, when the weekend arrives, don’t want to spend time away from their family. Instead of spending time away, make exercise a family fair by enjoying a backyard soccer game, taking a hike at a nearby park, or simply taking a walk after dinner. Not only will you squeeze in family time and exercise, but you’ll be teaching your children healthy habits, too. Dr. Bernard King offers more tips on staying active as a family.