No matter the presence of “back to school” if your life, there is no denying that September brings a renewed sense of routine and productivity. As we let the relaxed rules of summer slide away, it is a great time to remind ourselves of the things that set us up for health and fitness success.

1) Plan and prep ahead of time.

This goes for both food and workouts. Have an idea of what breakfast, lunch and your workout look like for the next day when you go to bed at night. If you get up and have work or kid duties in the morning, make sure your breakfast (and the kids) and gym bag are as set to go as possible when your feet hit the floor each morning. Without a plan, it is far easier to let both healthy food choices and workouts slide by.

Food: Breakfast is a given to know what the menu entails. I love to make smoothies for everyone the night before. Granola bars and yogurt, whole wheat banana bread are other favorites for breakfast or morning snack at our house. I’ve seen some cool looking mason jar muesli breakfasts that just get milk added the night before. The point being, it needs to be easy. When I had a morning commute my requirement was that I could eat it while I drove.

Lunch can be just as important to plan. There are few truly healthy choices involved with buying your lunch out. If you are in a situation where can buy and still be healthy, great. But most of us require planning and prepping. I love for lunch to be a salad of some sort, so I know heading in to dinner that I’ve gotten my veggie allotment in for the day. In my office-going days I’d make 5 days worth of a quinoa type salad and put in containers in the fridge to easily grab each night when I prepped the next days lunch. These days I do tend to make two salads at a time — one to eat on the current day, one to eat the next with no work.

Be ready for your workout: Have your gym bag packed for your workout the night before. If you can workout in the morning, have your clothes and toiletries packed and ready to go too. When Jeremy and I first started dating I thought I was good at getting out the door and being organized. Then I realized it took him five minutes to brush teeth, get dressed, pour coffee, pick up bag and walk out. The point being, being prepared and efficient is an art and we can always hone the process.

Know what your workout is going to be. Maybe you are waivering between two choices, but always know what it will be when you walk out the door or through the doors at the gym. The great thing about the studio is that you can count on three great options on the weekly workout board each time you step in the door.

2) Go to bed.
This one is honest self discipline. It will make you feel better, improve your immune system and make #3 possible. After a summer of late social events, late sunsets and vacations it is time to get back on track.

3) If at all possible, workout in the morning.
Every day holds unpredictability. By getting your workout in first, it can’t be skipped or worked through later. It will improve your energy and creativity throughout the day as well as help you to burn more calories. And it will boost your confidence as you make dedicated progress towards your health and fitness goals. When I started my first job after college my cubicle partner was a college soccer player and newly minted triathlete who would go on to become an ironman. I thought she was CRAZY for getting up at 5 a.m. to workout. Until I tried it. I was hooked after about a month and loved that my evenings where free and that I was getting most of my workouts in.