By Paige Green, Hy-Vee Dietitian on Friday, April 5, 2019

Get energized for spring with tweaks to your routine

With the weather making it enticing to head outdoors, there’s no better time to hop on healthier habits than now. A few small tweaks to your daily routine is all it takes improve your overall health and happiness. 

It can take up to 66 days to create a new habit — there's not better time to start than now! Hop on these habits that will help you feel refreshed, recharged and renewed for spring:

Count colors, not calories

Calories are not all created equal. A serving of almonds versus the same amount of calories you’d find in cookie form have quite a different effect on your body. Keeping portions under control is key, but one of the best ways to put a balanced plate together is observing the colors on your plate.

TRY THIS SPRING RECIPE: Chicken Zoodle Pesto

Does your meal look more beige, white, and brown rather than bright and vibrant? Your plate doesn't need to be Instagram-worthy at every meal, but adding some color, with fruits and vegetables could benefit your body. Count the colors and aim for 3-4 hues per meal (particularly ones found on the rainbow and not in the dirt).


Snack intelligently

Snacking itself is not the culprit — it’s what you choose to snack on that either tips the scale in your favor, or has you feeling guilty. Between-meal-bites not only keeps your metabolism fired up, but it keeps your energy levels steady all day long.

SNACK IDEAS: Quick and healthy snacks for energy

The key? Snacking smarter by planning out your snacks, rather than grazing on whatever is in the vending machine. Aim for 100-200 calories per snack, including a carbohydrate and a protein with each. Examples: string cheese + 15 grapes, one ounce of almonds + a clementine, or an apple with peanut butter.

Walk it out

The average American walks 3,000-4,000 steps a day (roughly 1.5-2 miles). Many people have them — the step counters that encourage you to make it to 10,000 steps each day. Are you surpassing that number?

5-2-1-0: Get 1 hour of physical activity every day

Walking is a form of exercise that is available to most. There’s no special equipment needed (other than supportive sneakers), or expensive membership to the gym. Walking can help you reduce your risk for many common health problems including heart disease, diabetes, and weight gain. When in doubt — walk. You’ll never regret getting your heart pumping.


“Cheat,” but don’t derail

Nutrition is highly personalized, yet one thing we all have in common is the urge to let loose every once in a while. Whether that comes from a juicy, bacon cheeseburger with fries or a creamy milkshake for dessert, it's hard to deny cravings. I know what you are thinking: It’s going to hurt your progress. Yet the secret in indulging, is largely a matter of the approach. 

RELATED: How to ditch the 'diet' this year

The term “cheat meal” feeds the concept that foods are looked at as either bad or good, which isn't true. Allowing yourself to eat what you want every now and then is certainly important for your sanity, but most of all, it’s realistic. And when it comes down to it, having a realistic approach with your nutrition will help the habits form, and eventually stick.

paigePaige Green received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Management at the University of Northern Iowa in 2012. She pursued her passion for nutrition at Iowa State University, where she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in dietetics during the spring of 2015. She is a member of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and the Iowa Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Paige truly sets out to educate individuals on finding a healthy balance in life and her passion for people and nutrition inspires clients of all ages. You can find Paige at the Waukee Hy-Vee.