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Sarasota Friday, Jan. 31, 2020 2 months ago

Spring clean your health

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Out with the old and in with the new for these healthy habits.
by: Nat Kaemmerer Staff Writer

It’s time to sort out your habits. If, as Marie Kondo would say, something isn’t sparking joy, then dump it. Typically, “spring cleaning” conjures up images of boxes full of old, useless stuff and beating the dust out of the rugs. But while you’re at it, why not clean out where you have to live 24/7 — your body?

Take note of some of these lifestyle changes as the weather gets warmer and the days longer. Spring cleaning could be your second chance at that failed New Year’s resolution — except this time, you’ll stick to it. Elizabeth Player, a certified KonMari consultant who owns Energetic Organizing and assists clients in the Tampa and Sarasota areas, recommends visualizing your goals in a concrete way to keep them at the forefront of your mind.

“If we don’t take that mindful moment, you could be forgetting your vision and letting life take over,” Player said. 

If your goal of eating healthy, exercising more or having a regular sleep schedule is out in the world instead of just in your mind, it’s harder to give up on it. Player recommends writing it down or creating a vision board.

Go outside

Being outside is free, and in the Sunshine State, vitamin D is abundant.

“Nature grounds us, and natural sunlight is very important,” Player said. “When I work with clients, one of the first things we do is open up all the blinds.”

If you’re feeling stagnant as we head into spring, taking yourself outside to move in the sunshine could boost your mood twofold: Movement releases endorphins, which act as analgesics to dull your sense of pain and could give you a feeling of euphoria, and sunlight usually correlates with a higher level of serotonin, the brain chemical that makes us feel more calm and in a better mood.

“Taking a daily, 30-minute beach walk changes my perspective on anything and everything,” Longboat Key-based yoga teacher Debby McClung said in an email.

For Player, a connection to nature begins in her backyard, which leads to a small lake with plenty of birds, and she loves walking, feeding the birds and connecting with the animals.

“It’s very grounding to be close to nature,” Player said.

Get moving

Want to get your endorphins flowing? Just start moving. If you’re not an active person already, and if the thought of the gym makes you sweat before you even step through the door, then start small. Even clearing a space in your house to flop down a yoga mat and get some stretching in will help you clear the clutter in your mind.

“As long as it’s somewhere you can feel tranquil, it will make you feel better to get into your practice,” Player said. “Any time you can make even the smallest space a sanctuary, it helps your mental and emotional state.”

As the weather gets warmer, the beach gets even more tantalizing. And as it happens, it can be the perfect workout studio for running, yoga or body weight strength workouts. Player uses fitness app Asana Rebel because its range of yoga-based workouts can be done anywhere, anytime.

There are ways to get strong without the gym, too. Use resistance bands to strengthen your lower body, or try a body weight workout that can be done anywhere. Examples include burpees, planks, squat jumps, jumping jacks or lunges — all of which get your heart rate up and can be done in the sunshine.

Build routines

Now is your chance to become one of those morning people you’ve heard so much about. Start a simple morning routine for yourself. If you’re hitting snooze half a dozen times, challenge yourself to get up by the third snooze. Once you’ve mastered that, actually start getting up on first alarm.

“First thing I do [in the morning] is open up my blinds and say, ‘Good morning, morning!’” Player said.

Don’t think about on what’s going to stress you out that day right when you wake up. Although it might feel like what you “should” do to keep yourself on the right track, immediate stress is not a good foundation on which to build your day. Instead, start your day with just a few minutes of positive thought.

“When your day begins with words of encouragement, kindness, loving thoughts for yourself and others, the stress has a lighter feeling,” McClung said.

As the day closes, start cutting out blue light from devices earlier and earlier, and get into a routine of calm breathing and thinking. Letting go of the day’s stress makes way for another day.

Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Player.

Eat clean

Of course, food is fuel, and we all know we should be eating more fresh, healthy food. Although you might be enjoying that quick cheeseburger you grabbed on the way to work in the moment, the processed meat, cheese and bread aren’t doing anything great for you in the long run.

“When we go shopping, the rainbow of hydrating foods have such a way of luring us in,” McClung said.

This spring, give in to the temptation of the rainbow, and give your body the natural nutrients it craves with a produce-packed grocery list. Tomatoes, strawberries, spinach, peas, oranges, kale, cucumbers, carrots and broccoli are all in season right now and can be found at various stands at the Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch weekend farmers markets.

“Fresh foods clear out the old and make way for new healthy habits that allow us to feel lighter,” McClung said.

Try literally cleaning out your fridge and pantry to spring-clean those not-so-healthy foods — like those packed with extra sugar — out of your diet. Refresh your home with farmers market fruits and veggies. A walk in the morning plus fresh food plus sunshine equals a home run for bodily spring cleaning.

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