As you wind down sun-filled summer days full of loose schedules and activities, we move toward the need to re-establish some daily structure and practicality of the fall routine. Getting off to school or work (whether you are headed back to the office or down the hall to your home office) it’s time to dust off your routines and re-discover the positive habits that bring success and joy to this new season.
While some may morn the end of summer, others crave the transition to regularity and structure. Having a routine not only guides you through your day but can also bring mental and physical benefits. Whether it’s assisting kids to feel more secure and provide a sense of control during an uncertain time or adding exercise to your day to destress and aid better sleep, routines that are built for your lifestyle will help your success!
One way to give everyone peace of mind and ensure success is to practice reestablishing routines before the fall begins. Don’t race through your morning in survival mode, you will be stressed and miss your goals. Some simple preparation will provide you with a foundation for healthy choices to get you back into a routine.
What is a routine? A routine is a set of actions which is regularly performed, often before starting your main activities. A strong routine is one that works for you. Why is a routine important? The way you start sets the tone for your day. When you have accomplishments in the morning, you breed small wins. These wins increase dopamine, the “feel good” chemical in your brain which in turn helps to increase focus, motivation, and positive thoughts. Consistent wins become habits and build a strong foundation for your routine.
A solid morning routine can also become the foundation of a self-care routine. Pulling in your family will provide a healthy low-stress routine to set the tone for the entire day!
So, let’s set up for your first wins by getting your kitchen pantry and fridge re-established for the new season.
Create a grocery list with a weeks’ worth of breakfast/lunch menus. Stock your pantry and fridge with these items.
Ensure that you have bags, bento boxes or Tupperware to easily organize and transport your lunch meals and snacks.
Don’t forget about dinner preparation – creating meals which are easy to freeze in advance and thaw the morning of such as soups, lasagnas, or smoothies are great options. Crock pots and air fryers are terrific tools for quick dinner wins.
You can ease into a healthy routine by making incremental improvements. Pick a healthy eating habit that you can work on each week. One example is to increase your water intake, or to eat only whole foods – nothing processed. Or try to add a variety of colors to your meals to ensure you are getting enough phytochemicals and nutrients, eat healthy fats like avocado and olive oil and cut back on those summer holiday libations. There are lots of short-cuts and prep ideas to re-establish your routine, here are just a few…
Meal Prep Ideas:
Preparing your meals at home not only helps your budget but when you prepare your own food, you know what you are getting in the ingredients that you include.
The work is in the preparation and reward is in how you feel!
Hard boil a dozen eggs to have on hand to add to breakfast and lunch selections
Purchase prepacked individual sized guacamole or hummus for dipping or as a dressing
Add celery, carrots and cherry or grape tomatoes to zip lock bags for easy snack packs
Create a simple vinaigrette from olive oil and spices and store in a ball jar in your fridge
Roast a variety of vegetables on a sheet pan tossed with olive oil and salt
Roast a couple of chickens – utilize 1 for dinner and cut up 1 for lunches
Cut up cauliflower and broccoli for quick small batch microwave steaming
Don’t stop grilling as the summer season winds down – grilling veggies over the weekend will provide a basis for a weeks’ worth of lunches.
Premake breakfast items and freeze/refrigerate for quick and easy options in the morning. Try pancakes, chaffles, egg/veggie cups, or overnight oats
Presentation matters! Whether you are headed into the office, the school building, or your remote workspace, presenting your meal in a pleasing/joyful way will make it all the tastier. Bento boxes, Tupperware with dividers or colorful silicon baking cups not only look terrific but help to provide appropriately sized portions.
How do you re-establish a good morning routine? Start the “Night Before”.
Evening preparation will help ease the anxiety out of the many activities of the morning. Organizing and filling backpacks, gym bags and work satchels and positioning them by the front door will create order and easy morning access. Even the youngest of students can learn to pack their lunch the night before. This activity will help to establish part of the morning routine.
If you have been freer with your sleep routine during the summer months, now is the time to start reigning it in. By beginning to dial back the bedtime hour by 10 to 15 minutes over the next couple of weeks you will help your body adjust to a new regular sleep schedule. Going to sleep and waking at the same time consistently will allow your body to work with its natural circadian rhythm. Going to sleep and waking the same time every day aids the quality of sleep.
Creating an environment conducive to sleeping is paramount. Non-stimulating activities prior to bedtime, reducing screens and water intake, and having a dark, cool room will aid in re-established a positive sleep routine.
Streamlining the morning process will ease anxiety and stress and lead to a more productive, healthier day. When you wake, start the day on a positive note by getting centered.
Take a few deep breaths in
Meditate on a positive mantra to set the intention for the day
Stand tall and give your body a long lengthening morning stretch
Drink a big glass of water
Shower and get dressed
What’s the Plan? Review the schedule/calendar for the day – priorities and extra-curriculars -being mindful of who needs to be where and when so that everyone knows what their role is for the day.
Regular exercise can often fall by the wayside when re-establishing a fall routine but building it in before or after school/work will encourage a healthy routine as well as act as a de-stresser and sleep aid.
If you skipped out on a lot of gym time during the summer, don’t try to go into beast mode immediately. Starting slowly with 15-20 minutes or movement per day is a great way to ease back into a workout routine. Consistency is more important than how much time you spend working out. Working up to 30 – 40 minutes per day will be easy on your body, which is important to lengthen and strengthen your muscles.
At the end of the day, it’s important to connect with your child(ren) and partner, perhaps even more so during times of high stress and as you are re-establishing your routine. Talk to them about their day. See if they have any questions or concerns about what’s happening. Ask them how they’re feeling and how you can work together on new or challenging experiences.
Build in outside time for play and to connect with nature. Like sleep, exercise and play help to boost the immune system. Physical activity can go a long way toward helping you release stress and burn off some extra energy.
Be kind to yourself, especially for the first couple of days as you are easing back into a routine. Focus on small changes and being consistent. Getting back on track doesn’t happen overnight and requires planning, patience, and practice. Reward yourself and your family for making small incremental changes by planning a family game night, going to a movie or “create your own pizza” night.
Strive for progress over perfection and with some planning and some healthy choices you will experience the positive effects of your fall routine!
Not sure where to start?
Come into EMP180 to begin your weight loss journey. In addition to planning meals and snacks, we can help you explore the reasons behind over-eating and teach you how to manage difficult social occasions. Let’s work on establishing healthy habits that work for you and your lifestyle!
At EMP 180° we offer a personalized approach to nutrition and weight loss. We support you throughout your weight loss journey, giving you the tools to lose the weight and EMPowering you to keep it off—forever.