Spring is a time for shedding layers, sporting the latest bright fashions — and, of course, spring cleaning. That can apply not only to reorganizing your closet, but to tossing some unhealthy winter habits you may have fallen into, such as not exercising due to arctic temperatures.
Don’t be too hard on yourself — we all have moments of weakness. The key to getting in shape for spring (and staying that way) that is to keep it simple.
It may be difficult to set a clear goal at a time we are constantly receiving conflicting messages: “Eat less carbs.” “Eat all the carbs you want as long as you stay under your allotted calorie count.” “Eat only meat.” “Eat no meat.” “Cook at home more.” “Only eat raw food.” “Do yoga, but don’t overstretch.” “Do cardio, but don’t pound your joints.” “Lift, but not heavy weights.”
There’s a lot of information out there that can be helpful, but not every method works for every person. Instead of harboring guilt for taking on too lofty a goal, try these simple tips; they can make a big difference.
1. Identify the “why”
Getting in shape does not always mean losing weight. Perhaps you just want to feel better about yourself, have more energy and know that you’re doing something good for your body. If you identify why you want to get fit, it will help you power through a tough workout or give you the willpower to say “no thanks” to the bagels your co-worker brought to the office. Looking for more inspiration? Check out 3 ways to find workout motivation when you’d rather give up.
2. Find a way (or a few ways) to be active every day
If you find activities that you truly love, you will find joy in being active every day, even if it’s just going for a walk in your favorite place. Eliminate the “I don’t have time to work out today” excuse by embracing the short but effective exercise session. Anything you can do to get your body moving will put you in a better place mentally and is better than being completely stationary. Too busy to go to the gym? Try an at home workout!
3. Eat real, whole food
Forget counting carbs and calories; instead, focus on fueling your body. If you are eating nutritious foods with as few ingredients as possible — fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, healthy and clean proteins — you’re treating your body well. This spring, try some delicious and healthy recipes that will have you feeling refreshed!
4. Don’t think of health as a punishment
Find physical activities and nutritious meals and snacks that feel like you’re giving yourself a reward. This is exactly what your health should be — a gift, something that makes you feel healthy and happy. Try these 4 ways to add fun to your workout.
5. Don’t skimp on sleep
Easier said than done, I know. In our hectic, overscheduled lives, sleep often gets pushed to the back burner. But sufficient rest should be one of your top priorities. Check out these 8 decorating tips for a better night’s sleep.
Drinking more water is one of the simplest ways to achieve a healthier you. Proper hydration aids digestion, refuels our bodies for upcoming workouts, boosts energy, nourishes the skin… the list of benefits goes on and on. Keep a water bottle at your workplace as a constant reminder to drink more H2O, or carry a water bottle with you. The weight of a heavy water bottle will remind you to do your best to empty it!
7. Enlist a buddy
Being vocal about your goals to get in shape can be a powerful motivator and may even inspire a friend or coworker to join you. I like to schedule regular workout dates with a friend so I stay committed and feel accountable. Strength in numbers! Here are some tips to find a perfect fit-buddy.
There is no “right” way to get in shape and maintain a healthy lifestyle; there is only what works for you. Realistic tweaks to your routine are the first step to a lasting habit. Don’t overwhelm yourself by taking on too many ambitious goals at once; instead, stick to the basics. And remember: Being healthy should feel fun, and be something you look forward to every day.
Aly Teich is the founder of The Sweat Life.