Green grass is beginning to show, tulips are starting to bloom, and the snow is melting. Springtime is finally here. Huzzah!
With the changing of the weather comes good ol’ fashion spring cleaning. If you’d like to mix it up this year, leave the dirty details of your house to a cleaning service, and spring clean your body instead.
Here are three easy ways you can get started on spring cleaning your body.
1: Pantry Purge
If you have a goal to eat healthier foods and snacks, let’s begin in the kitchen. For starters, how long has it been since you de-junked your pantry? Chances are you have graham crackers way past their expiration date (gross) and bags of potato chips and pretzels that make it too easy to graze on empty carbohydrates.
This might be a little difficult, but it’s important to get rid of the junk and replace it with healthier snacks and foods . We’ll get to the healthy replacement foods later.
If you’re worried about wasting food, you can donate any non-perishable items to your local food pantry or soup kitchen. You can also give perishable items away to your friends. As for the rest? It’s going in a big, black garbage bag.
Food for Thought: This doesn’t mean you can never enjoy your favorite treat. It just means that instead of stashing them in your home like a squirrel collecting nuts for the winter, you’ll have to head to the bakery to purchase that single, gooey, chocolate and caramel brownie you love.
Out with the Old
With your first sweep of the cupboards and pantry, get rid of all the stuff you know is horrible for your health. This will be the candy bars, sugary juices, chips, gummy bears, soda—it’s all gotta go.
It may feel like you’re rubbing sugar in your wounds, but it’s important to completely rid your house of poor food choices. Otherwise, you’ll continue to fall back on old, unhealthy eating habits. Because let’s be real—if there are Hostess cupcakes in the cupboard, you and I are both going to eventually cave and eat them.
Later, you’ll feel better about your decision to pantry purge. Especially when you experience the many health benefits that come from eating nutritious meals and snacks. (And how awesome your figure looks in the mirror!)
Next, check out the ingredient listing on the remaining products in your pantry. If you see sugar, salt, or unhealthy fats listed as one of the first ingredients, it’s a safe bet this isn’t a healthy food option. This should go in the trash.
Don’t forget to check your freezer too—just in case you’ve stocked up on frozen pizzas and ice cream.
In with the New
It’s time to go grocery shopping. Since you’ll be emptying your cupboards of junk food, you need to replace it with healthier alternatives. This is the time to think about what kinds of foods and flavors really tickle your taste buds.
For instance, you’re gonna hate life if you try replacing your Cool Ranch Doritos with celery sticks. But if you find something comparable and tasty, you’re more likely to enjoy and stick with it.
Eat This Instead
Here are just a few healthy snack options you can fill your pantry and fridge with:
- Nuts—Almonds, pecans, walnuts, and natural peanut butter are all great sources of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats if eaten in moderation. A yummy trail mix is another nutty option. Stick with unsalted for less sodium.
- Air-popped popcorn—It might not be movie-theater style popcorn that’s swimming in butter, but you can season it yourself. And it is a much healthier alternative to potato chips.
- Hummus—A good quality hummus is rich in protein and fiber, and in my opinion, it seriously tastes amazing with carrots and bell peppers or other veggies. Guacamole and pesto are other savory dipping sauces that are on the healthier side.
- Hard-boiled eggs—They’re super easy to prepare and provide you with a good source of proteins and fats. Plus, you can sprinkle a little sea salt for extra flavor.
- Berries—Whether fresh or frozen, you can never go wrong with a handful of delicious raspberries, blueberries, or plump strawberries.
- Greek yogurt—If you’re craving something sweet, try adding some berries or banana slices along with a drizzle of honey.
Here’s a few more healthy food options.
2: Get to the Gut of Health
Did you know that the microbial cells in the gut outnumber human cells 10 to 1? Yeah, I didn’t know that either. Learn something new every day and all that jazz. To further illustrate this point, think of the microbiome as a tropical rainforest living in your gut. Just as there is a wide diversity of plant types in the rainforest (which all play a different role in the ecosystem), each microbe (bacteria) in your gut also plays an important role.
So basically, your microbiome is pretty vital when it comes to your gut health.
Eating Healthy Takes Guts
When we eat certain processed foods, the delicate microbe balance in the stomach can be disrupted and thrown out of whack. Obviously, you don’t want that. To help keep the right balance of microbes thriving in your gut, consider the following tips:
- Cut back on sugars and starches—If you think you love sugar, it’s nothing compared to a bad bacteria’s sweet tooth. Sugar is their favorite food. To keep bad bacteria from building up in your gut, avoid consuming anything with refined sugar or high fructose corn syrup. And take care to reduce the amounts of starches you’re eating (think bagels and white bread, corn-based foods, potatoes, etc.).
- Nosh on whole, unprocessed foods—The more healthy, whole foods you eat, the better. This would include fibrous fruits and veggies, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
- Chow down on fermented and living foods—Now I’m personally not a fan of sauerkraut or pickles, but foods like these and fermented dairy products like kefir and yogurt (made through natural fermentation with good bacteria) can actually help to increase the rainforest of friendly bacteria in your gut.
- Supplement with a good probiotic—This can go a long way in keeping your gut on track by repopulating healthy bacteria. Try taking USANA® Probiotic This probiotic supplement helps bring balance to your belly and digestive tract with a blend of good bacteria—Bifidobacterium BB-12 and Lactobacillus rhamnosus LGG.*
3: Move Yo’ Body
Part of spring cleaning your body includes getting regular exercise. Think about it—our bodies aren’t designed to sit around all day. (Why do you think your adorable toddler runs around all day and is a hurricane of energy?)
Yet far too often we slump down in our desks all day at work, and then go home to slump some more on the couch while we binge-watch Netflix.
Incorporating daily movement into your lifestyle can have major positive health benefits. Even 30 minutes of moderate movement can help rid your body of toxins through perspiration.
Easy Ways to Move More
If you work in an office setting at a desk all day, you can still get daily movement in:
- Park further away in the parking lot so you have to walk a bit
- Always take the stairs over the elevator (unless there’s like 20 floors, in which case I say screw it and take the elevator)
- Use a standup desk so you’re not sitting on your butt all day
- Take work breaks and go for a 10–15-minute walk outdoors, or even walk laps around the building in colder weather
As for exercising, you don’t have to join a gym or train for a marathon (especially if you’re like me and you hate running). There are tons of fun and easy ways you can get your daily movement in and also get your heart rate up.
Here are just a few different enjoyable ways you can exercise:
- Disc golfing
- Walking the dog
- Playing Pokémon GO
- HIIT workouts (high intensity interval training)
- Mud Run 5K
- Mowing the lawn
- Rollerblading (does anyone else love watching the roller-bladers at the park?)
Whether it’s wearing a fitness tracker and getting 10,000 steps a day or taking a daily bike ride, find what works best for you and get movin’.
Spring Forward with Spring Cleaning
Spring cleaning your body doesn’t have to be difficult. But by incorporating these simple tips into your daily routine, you can start off this spring season with a fresh pep in your step.