March 9, 2020

The 4 Season Solution: Spring into Spring

The 4 Season Solution Spring Post Hero

This post was written by Dallas Hartwig, and sponsored by Atria, publishers of The 4 Season Solution

Are you feeling any differently today than you have been for the past few weeks? It’s almost spring. And that means it’s finally time to shake off the winter doldrums and emerge into a lighter, brighter, and more energetic version of yourself.

Luckily, this winter-to-spring transition tends to be one of the easier seasonal shifts. Thanks to our evolutionary history, our bodies are primed to greet these spring months with energy and enthusiasm. This is when we shake off old routines and get out there again, initiating a wave of movement and energy that will peak during the late summer. Our food, sleep patterns, movement, and social contact all shift from the somewhat withdrawn, and, ideally, deeply restorative patterns of winter into a new, more expansive vibrancy. Our bodies expect this shift—it’s programmed into our very cells. The excitement of spring corresponds to the thrill of dopamine: novelty, anticipation, focus, motivation, and… fun!

A Natural Energy Boost

Spring comes with a natural energy boost to start moving — to get back out into the garden, do some spring cleaning, or to start (or restart) an exercise program. Part of this spring zest for life comes from the extra sunlight we’re getting. The bright natural light triggers the synthesis of serotonin, well-known for its role in mood and sleep. Better sleep means more energy, and probably a more positive outlook on life in general. Beyond just impacting how we sleep, the changing light also affects how we eat, move, and interact with other people, too. I talk a lot more about this and why spring feels easier than winter in my new book: The 4 Season Solution.

Another way to make the most of this joyful spring transition is to focus on eating spring seasonal foods. That starts with finding out what grows in the spring season and the best place to learn that is at your local farmers’ market.

Spring Seasonal Eating

You probably don’t live in a place with year-round farmers markets, like Hawaii or Costa Rica–most of us don’t. Most markets start their peak harvest around early summer, but some do start in the spring and it’s worth checking to see if there’s one near you.

As soon as you can get to your local farmers market, eat what’s available there. Ask your local farmers: What are you eating right now? What are you growing? What are you producing? Follow their lead.

Even if you can’t find a farmers market in March to buy locally grown “spring” foods, you can still shop for these foods at the grocery store and stay in season. Chances are, you can also find local eggs and animal protein sources at healthier grocery chains or your local butcher shop. Here’s a good place to start:

Spring Grocery List

  • Asparagus
  • Spring greens, including lettuce, arugula, kale, watercress, and spinach
  • Sprouts
  • Mushrooms
  • Radishes
  • Spring onions, shallots
  • Carrots
  • New potatoes
  • Peas: snow, snap
  • Rhubarb
  • Strawberries
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Fresh herbs like mint, cilantro, parsley, basil, and oregano
  • Lots of healthy fats from sources like olive oil, avocado, and grass-fed butter or ghee
  • Eggs from local/regional, cage-free/free-ranging hens
  • Locally/naturally raised and naturally fed animal protein sources: wild-caught fish, pastured pork, free-ranging poultry, and grass-fed beef (frozen is totally fine!)

If you use this process for food selection during the spring season, you’ll be about 75% of the way to seasonal eating. Getting the rest of the way there something I cover in-depth in The 4 Season Solution.

Now that you can finally go back to the local parks and get back outside in general, make sure to make time to actually do that, and to really enjoy it. Do it in community: talk about your new opportunities to be outside and enjoy fresh spring produce with your family, your friends, your partners, and get excited together!

This post is sponsored by Atria, publishers of The 4 Season Solution