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6 Healthy Ways to Celebrate Spring6 Healthy Ways to Celebrate Spring


Healthy Ways to Celebrate Spring

Get to work in the yard

Landscaping, gardening, and lawn mowing are big calorie burners. A day of sprucing up the exterior of your home can easily blast the same calories you’d burn during your workout at the gym. Yard work also meets the criteria to count towards the 30 minutes of daily exercise recommended for health. (See The Best Home and Garden Chores for Burning Calories for exercise ideas.)

Sign up for a fitness event

Training to compete in a fitness event encourages you to create an exercise plan that has purpose and a specific goal. A 5K race or triathlon are good choices, but consider thinking beyond a road race. Golf scrambles, sand volleyball leagues, disc golf, hikes, and dog walks all provide opportunities for fitness and they can challenge your training in new ways.

Try a new recipe

Incorporating new recipes into your daily menus is necessary to avoid falling into a rut with healthy eating. The more exciting and flavorful your meals, the less likely you will be to stray from your healthy habits.

Buy new athletic shoes

Quality athletic shoes are important for exercise safety and trying a new pair can motivate you to hit the gym. Old, worn out shoes stress the joints, which can lead to injury. A new pair with a good fit designed for your choice of activity can help keep you safe and healthy. (See Athletic Shoes: A Buyers Guide.)

Join a weekend clean-up committee

Help keep your community clean by volunteering with a local committee to remove trash near the creek or refurbish an empty urban lot into a park or garden. These events get you moving, and research also shows that there is a significant relationship between volunteering and good health. It can lead to greater overall satisfaction with life and reduced rates of depression.

Clean out the kitchen

An organized kitchen that is filled with nutritious foods makes healthy eating easy. Toss out any unhealthy snacks that have been tempting you. Organize whole grains and dry beans in clear containers so that you can find them quickly. Keep storage containers in one place to fill with single servings of leftovers for a grab-and-go lunch. If you need some help with organizing and stocking your healthy kitchen, see The Healthy Kitchen Test and How to Select and Store Fruits and Vegetables.

4 Things that Make You Eat More4 Things that Make You Eat More


Things that Make You Eat More

Recognizing hunger cues is the key to controlling your appetite and reaching weight loss goals, but hunger can be deceiving. Pay attention to how these four things affect your appetite to prevent overeating.

Too much alcohol

Despite the grumbling stomach you might feel after a few drinks, most research doesn’t directly link alcohol to increased hunger. But alcoholic drinks gradually decrease your inhibitions making it much easier to order nachos instead of a salad or add dessert at the end of a meal. These extra calories, plus the calories in your drink, can result in weight gain. Pay attention to how much you snack while sipping.

Lack of sleep

Surveys show that most people get only five to six hours of sleep per night, but research suggests you need seven to nine. Skimping on sleep causes an increase in appetite stimulating hormones and a decrease in hormones that signal fullness. The increased cravings and hunger that result can lead to a higher calorie intake and weight gain.


Stress causes spikes in cortisol levels, which lead to increased hunger and emotional eating. Cravings for high-carbohydrate, high-fat, and high-sugar foods are common during times of stress because these foods trigger feel-good chemicals in the brain that help relieve tension. Without alternatives to relieve stress, like deep breathing exercises and physical activity, emotional eating becomes difficult to resist.

Refined carbohydrates

Refined carbohydrates like sugar, white bread, and pasta can cause a spike in blood sugar that is quickly followed by a drop, often called a crash. This crash results in hunger making you feel as if you didn’t eat an hour ago. You can help to stabilize your blood sugar and reduce spikes and crashes by eating complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, and including lean protein with your meals and snacks.

Healthy Changes You Can Make in MinutesHealthy Changes You Can Make in Minutes


Healthy Changes You Can Make in Minutes
Pack your lunch

Living a healthy lifestyle doesn't have to take a lot of time. Small actions here and there throughout the day add up to big results. Here are a few healthy changes you can make in minutes.

Do a wall sit or plank instead of browsing your social media account

Time: 1 minute

The day is filled with short one minute segments that allow you to squeeze in simple exercises like the plank or wall sit that will tone your core and strengthen your lower body. The next time you are put on hold during a call or wait for a webinar to start, get yourself into position and hold for 60 seconds.

Take a stress break instead of tackling the next issue

Time: 5 minutes

Taking short breaks to ease stress throughout the day can reduce your blood pressure and the urge for emotional eating. Sit at your desk, clear your mind and breath deeply, or step outside for a five minute walk. Give your mind the chance to escape from what is causing you stress and you can return to it refreshed with new ideas for problem solving.

Pack your lunch instead of heading out for fast food

Time: 15 minutes

It takes only 15 minutes in the evening to pack a healthy lunch for the next day. It will save you money and improve your nutrition. By having food ready to eat, you can also use the rest of your lunch hour for a short walk or stretching session. Throw together a salad, make a wrap or divide and package leftovers to reheat.

Exercise instead of watching television

Time: 20 minutes

It only takes 20 minutes of exercise three to seven days a week to stay healthy. The key is to pick up the intensity to get the heart rate elevated, build muscle, and burn calories. Try high-intensity circuit training (HICT) or create your own circuit that challenges you, but that is also a good match for your fitness level.

Cook dinner instead of waiting to be seated and served at a restaurant

Time: 25 minutes

Eating out may seem quick and convenient, but the commute, and waiting to be seated and served, takes longer than you think. There are many meals you can prepare at home in 25 minutes or less. Not only will you save time, but you will have better control over calories, fat, sugar, and sodium for a meal that keeps you on track to reach your goals. Try Fajita Bowls with Beef and Brown Rice, Black Bean and Chipotle Tacos, or Ginger Chicken Lettuce Wraps.

Go to sleep instead of browsing the Web

Time: 30 minutes

Getting seven to nine hours of sleep each night helps control spikes in stress hormones and the food cravings that result. Adequate sleep will also help you feel more rested and alert so that you will be ready for tomorrow’s challenging day while working towards maintaining a healthy weight. (See Sleep, Stress and Weight Loss.)

New Ways to Assess Your ProgressNew Ways to Assess Your Progress


Assess Your Fitness Progress

Weight, body mass index (BMI), circumference measurements, and body fat percentage are all good ways to assess your fitness progress, but they don’t tell the whole story. When you adopt a healthy lifestyle, you change more than your physical appearance. Don’t forget to pay attention to these improvements when assessing your progress and celebrating your success.


Cravings can be caused by a rise in cortisol from increased stress or inadequate sleep. Eating high carbohydrate foods that cause a spike and drop in blood sugar can also trigger cravings. As you adopt healthier practices, like exercising to reduce stress and eating healthier foods, your cravings will decrease. They may not disappear completely, but you will be able to control them and the amount you eat when you decide to treat yourself.

Hunger and Fullness

As you become a mindful eater, you will begin to recognize when you are truly hungry, which will help you to stop eating when you are full. After years of unhealthy dieting, it can be difficult to recognize true hunger and fullness again so consider this a big step to improving your health.

Energy Levels

Healthy foods are rich in fiber and protein that help stabilize your blood sugar and prevent the spikes and drops that can zap your energy. Adopting healthy habits will boost your energy levels throughout the day. Pay attention to changes in how you feel at different times. You will likely find that your afternoon slump no longer occurs and that you awake each morning ready to take on your day.


Research shows that regular exercise promotes restful sleep as long as you complete your workout at least four hours before bedtime. Staying well hydrated, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, and limiting alcohol intake can all improve your sleep patterns. Healthy foods can ease stress and anxiety further helping you to get the rest you need to feel your best. Consider keeping a sleep journal that tracks how quickly you fall asleep, how long you sleep, and how you feel when waking. Compare this to your food diary and exercise log to determine the positive changes you’ve made to improve sleep.

Moving with Ease

As you become fit, daily activities will become easier. Pay attention to your breathing when you climb a flight of stairs. Note improvements in joint pain during your workouts. As the weight comes off and you become stronger, your body will begin to move more easily. The aches and pains you once felt will lessen and often disappear.

8 Gifts for Fitness Lovers8 Gifts for Fitness Lovers


Gifts for Fitness Lovers

Fitness enthusiasts welcome gifts that support an active lifestyle whether it’s a new piece of gear or a reminder to keep moving. Make the new year healthier by adding these gift ideas to your shopping list.

Monogrammed Yoga Mat

Whether the person on your list is a yoga guru or simply needs a good spot for crunches, a monogrammed yoga mat makes workouts more fun. Many companies allow you to customize mats with initials or names in a variety of cheerful colors and fonts.

Framed Motivational Quotes

With craft and artist websites like, framed artwork boasting motivational quotes has moved beyond soaring eagles and wooded landscapes. Artists can take a favorite quote and turn it into colorful, quirky wall art that will fit into anyone's home decor.

Reflective Gear

As winter days grow shorter, it can be tough to fit in exercise during daylight hours. Whether your loved ones are bike commuters or early morning walkers, dependable flashing headlamps, bike lights and reflective shirts and vests are the perfect gift for keeping them safe and fit.

Foam Rollers

Foam rollers have become an essential piece of fitness equipment. A variety of styles are available, but they all operate the same way. The foam cylinder is rolled against the muscles to massage and ease soreness. To ensure your fitness enthusiast gets the most out of the gift, buy one that comes with an instructional video.

Moving Stories

Even the biggest fitness advocate can't be on the move all the time. Grab the latest book on running, cycling, or yoga to keep them engaged during down time. From books by ultramarathoners to football players to yogis, there are numerous options on fitness and motivation available at your local book store.

Compression Sleeves

Compression gear helps with recovery and blood circulation. A pair of compression leg sleeves is a great gift for the athlete and avid exerciser in your life. Not only are they beneficial post-workout, they can also help with blood circulation on long flights or road trips.

Race Number Belt

For competitors, pinning race numbers to shirts can be frustrating. Number belts are thin belts of elastic with holders for attaching the race number near the waistline. This keeps the numbers secure and out of the way.

Sports Headbands

There is nothing worse than sticky strands of hair in your face during a workout. New sports headbands are made of comfortable, elastic materials that hold hair in place no matter how high-impact the activity. They also come in stylish prints and colors, and make great stocking stuffers for fitness lovers.

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