Labor Day is the 'New' New Year: How To Use A New School Year to Establish New Fitness Habits

We’ve all heard the expression “30 is the new 20” (and as a woman in my thirties, can I just say I really embrace that phrase).  Well, yesterday, we celebrated Labor Day and for many moms “Labor Day is the 'New' New Year”.  Let me explain.

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Now that we're post-Labor Day, students around the U.S. (including my own) are back in school. I’ve experienced longer lines in the stores, seen the parks and playgrounds begin to quiet down, and can sense the stench of busyness in the air.  Summer is on its way out and the hustle and bustle of fall is upon us.

But don’t get bummed out.  Instead, think of this period as your New Year.  The beginning of a new school year is a great time to think about ways to be healthy and fit and to get your family on the same page.  Who says you have to wait until January 1st to make a list of goals and resolutions to accomplish in the year ahead.  Make a Labor Day resolution to combat the things that generally happen in the fall (a packed calendar, shorter days, an expanded to-do list) that distract us from being focused on our health and fitness.

Here’s a few (relatively) easy tips for making the most of the new school year and turning over a new fitness leaf.

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Plan ahead.  Healthy meals don’t magically appear in the fridge.  Spend time planning your meals and snacks for the week and grocery shopping list.  Thirty minutes of meal planning can save you hours during the week.  Check out our Weekday Meal Planner, which allows you to plan your meals for the work week and write-out your grocery shopping list on a single sheet.  Take it with you to make grocery shopping a breeze.  To be even more efficient order your groceries online and have them shipped to your doorstep.  As for exercise, calendar your workouts. Make exercising an appointment in the same way you block off time when scheduling a meeting with a colleague.  You’re more likely to get a workout in this way.

Get your friends and family involved.  When it comes to exercise, let’s face it — there’s generally not a plethora of free time in the schedule.  I often find that when I have a chunk of free time I’d rather spend it with my family and friends than working out.  However, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. Have a family volleyball game or take the kids for a walk in the stroller.  If you have children that play fall sports, bring your sneakers and walk/run around the area where they have practice.  Ask a friend to check out a new fitness class with you, or to bring her sneakers for a power walk through the mall.  This New Year, consider getting active while spending time with loved ones.

Consider the 3Cs of Exercise.  Fitness expert Chris Freytag describes the 3Cs of exercise — commitment, convenience, and consistency — as the keys to success in establishing a long-term healthy lifestyle.  The 3Cs are pretty self-explanatory, but check out Chris' article in Prevention for her take on to implement them.

Get plenty of rest.  As moms, we obsess over getting our kids down at an appropriate bedtime.  But ask yourself, “Do I have a bedtime?”  Yes, I know you’re busy and I know that it is after the kids go down for bed when the real work begins, but getting the right amount of sleep is vital to a healthy lifestyle.  Studies have shown a direct correlation between sleep and weight loss.  Putting aside weight loss, sleep is important to our energy and productivity levels.  Although there’s no magic number, most studies have found that adults need 7-8 hours of sleep per night.  Take baby steps with this one.  Commit to going to bed a half hour earlier each week until until you get to (or closer to) this range. 

Stay hydrated.  I don’t know about you, but when I get busy the first thing I forget to do is drink water throughout the day.  Water is the single most critical nutrient in the body — making up 95% of the human brain and 82% of blood.  A decrease in proper water levels in the body can impact our bodily functions, cause daytime fatigue, and decrease concentration.  Plus, when we’re not drinking water, we don’t reap the benefits of increased calorie burn and weight loss.  Start the day with a refillable bottle of water, keep it at your desk, and as soon as you empty it head to the water cooler to refill it. Try infusing your water with fresh fruit and herbs to spice things up!

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Incorporate Superfoods in Your Diet.  I am a huge fan of superfoods (although I'll be the first one to admit that the term gets thrown around alot, and really just refers to foods with a nutrient-dense profile).  Some of my favorites include blueberries, egg whites, kale, quinoa, salmon, spinach, and sweet potato.  Incorporating more of these into your meal planning are a great way to get the entire family on board.

So this school year, let's give some thought to the changes we can adopt to make the school year and fall season a health and fitness success for the entire family. Happy (Labor Day) New Year!

About the Author.  Alexandra Sampson is a wife, mother, lawyer, fitness guru and the founder of The SheFirst Project. She is on a quest to live her best life possible by remaining true to her faith, savoring life, and putting self-care first! 
Alexandra Sampson