Back to School: 7 Ways to Make Healthy Living a Priority Again

With kids going back to school, parents suddenly have a little more flexibility with their schedules to put themselves first. At least, for some portion of the day. 

After a summer break that likely included a few too many indulgent meals and missed workouts, it’s time to follow a plan and achieve results. From focusing on the most important macronutrient to investing in someone who can help steer you in the right direction, here are seven ways you can make healthy living a priority again. 

Perform a Daily Stretch Routine

Whether you do it at the beginning or end of the day, both your body and brain will thank you for making stretching a consistent practice. Not only does it increase range of motion and flexibility, but it also helps improve posture and blood flow. Plus, stretching is a terrific form of stress relief that gives you time to set your intentions or unwind after a long day. 

All it takes is 5-10 minutes of dedicated attention to reap the rewards. Make sure to hold static stretches for 30-45 seconds as you breathe deeply and push just a little further. If you’re not sure where to start, use this daily stretching routine for guidance. 

Go for an Evening Walk

The kids going back to school should only make quality time more of a priority. So, why not engage in an activity that’s not only family-friendly but also beneficial for your health? An evening walk provides the perfect opportunity for everyone to stretch their legs, work on their cardio and engage in conversation. Early risers may enjoy a morning walk to get the blood and ideas flowing. 

Of course, you can also take the solo approach once in a while and just put on your headphones and lock in for a 30-minute walk around the neighborhood. Either way, getting your steps in on a daily basis is a healthy habit you can easily implement. 

Meal Prep 

Think of meal prepping in the same light as back to school shopping. Just like kids need the right tools to succeed in school, your body needs the right fuel to function optimally. Rather than relying on frozen dinners or ordering takeout because you’re in a time crunch, stay ahead of the game by making meal prepping part of your routine. 

Spending a few hours of a Sunday afternoon cooking and packaging lunch options can save you a tremendous amount of time and energy when things get hectic during the school week. In addition, meal prepping gives you another avenue to get the family involved and educate your kids about the importance of eating nutrient-dense foods like vegetables, fruits, and animal-based protein sources.

Hit Your Protein Goal

Speaking of protein, your No. 1 priority should be to hit your daily goal for this critical macronutrient. You should aim to consume 1 gram per pound of bodyweight, though somewhere in the range of 0.7 grams per pound would still be a good mark to hit. Either way, your diet should include a variety of protein sources that provide the amino acids and other building blocks for lean muscle and other tissues. 

If you haven’t been hitting your daily protein goal (or you have never attempted to track your food intake), download MyFitnessPal or a similar app so you can see exactly what you’re eating. Ultimately, consuming adequate protein is an essential component to following a healthy lifestyle.

Stay on Top of Your Hydration

Chances are you’re dehydrated right now. After all, most people don’t drink sufficient water or replenish electrolytes lost from sweat. Out of all the healthy living practices you can follow, staying on top of your hydration is something that should be at the very top. 

Make it a priority by bringing a refillable bottle or jug with you to work and the gym. Furthermore, don’t underestimate the importance of potassium, sodium, and chloride for optimal performance and recovery. My recommendation? Store a few packets of your favorite electrolyte powder in your gym bag

Keep an Accountability Journal

Self-discipline is something you must master if you want to become your best self. Whether that means meticulously tracking your body fat measurements and food intake or documenting how you feel at the end of each workout, having an accountability journal is a great way to put discipline into practice. 

Now that doesn’t mean you have to weigh yourself every day and obsess over small changes. It also doesn’t mean you have to spend an hour writing down every minute detail about your day, either. At the end of the day, though, a journal is a blank canvas for you to record key milestones, celebrate your successes and reflect on the challenges you’ll inevitably face on your journey. 

Hire a Personal Trainer 

You don’t have to do this alone. While self-motivation will get you a long way, you can achieve even more with the right support system. As the kids go back to school and learn new skills and build confidence, you can do the same thing by hiring a personal trainer

Not only will you get to work directly with a qualified, experienced expert in the field of health and fitness, but you’ll have someone who can hold you accountable and ensure you push yourself beyond what you thought was possible. And who knows…you may just end up making a lifelong friend as you build muscle, burn fat, and make healthy living a priority again. 

By Stephen Sheehan 

ISSA Certified Personal Trainer, Nutritionist and Fitness Coach 

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