August 31, 2016

Healthy Habits: Getting into the Fall Routine

By Kate Moore RDN, LDN

This is Part 1 of a two-part blog series. Part 2 can be found here.

The subtle changes in the trees, the occasional crunch of leaves underfoot, cool crisp mornings and evenings, bonfires, apple picking and shopping for school supplies are signs we’re gearing up for the fall, which also means getting back into the swing of routine.

As lovely as this change is, especially here in the mountains, there are some challenges that accompany the fall weather. For most of us, spring and summer months make it easy for us to get outside and be more active. With the arrival of cooler temps, we tend to take on more of a hibernation state and decrease activity, which can contribute to winter weight gain. So, let’s talk habits to keep that spring and summer activity going or form some new healthy habits before the holiday hustle begins.

Two great minds have studied why we do (or don’t do) the things we do — say that 10 times fast: BJ Fogg, a Stanford professor and author of Tiny Habits, and Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit.  Fogg developed what I’m calling ‘the three R’s of habits’: reminder, routine, reward. The thought behind this is small behaviors lead to sustainable changes. For example: If you want to have a healthier diet, start by choosing one meal per day (let’s say dinner) to incorporate half your plate with vegetables.

Here are some tips for creating a healthy routine, setting you in place for successful sleep:

  • Dim the lights 1-1.5 hours before bed and avoid artificial light from devices (phone, TV, computer, glowing from alarm clocks, iPad, etc.).
  • Avoid stimulants past noon: dark chocolate, coffee, energy drinks and any caffeinated beverage. Try drink chamomile, lemongrass, valerian root or hibiscus teas if you are having trouble falling asleep.
  • Avoid watching violent movies — violence stimulates cortisol (stress hormone) and prevents rest.
  • Exercise daily.
  • Power down and turn off all devices about 60 minutes before bed time.
  • Keep consistent sleep and wake schedules (even on weekends). Going to bed late and waking up late can shift your body’s natural clock.
  • During the day, avoid the afternoon slump by getting some fresh air. Step outside on a break or at lunch; daylight and fresh air stimulate the brain and reset your circadian rhythm.

Kate Moore is a registered and licensed Dietitian Nutritionist and Wellness Coach with Mission Health MyHealthyLife Wellness. 

Resources: HuffingtonPost, Jamesclear.com, Riskology, Lifehacker.com