By Darren Floro-Bryant

It’s April already?!  Are you ready for the warmer weather and patio season? Spring means more outdoor socializing, maybe a few beverages, and time to relax and enjoy the warmth. This also means shorts, t-shirts, bathing suits, and tank tops…pool parties and time at the beach! 

Now that the cold, hibernating months have passed, we all want to shed the extra layer of clothing, but we may not feel confident about what the clothing has been covering. Spring is the perfect time to make some changes to your routine that will help you feel more comfortable and confident in your skin while enjoying the warmer weather.

This does not mean we need to go out and start a whole new fitness regimen – or maybe it does? The warmer weather could be the motivation that we have been lacking in the colder months. Also, with this warmer weather, it’s a great way to take your routine outside. Spring is a chance for us to change our outlook or perspective and redirect our focus. Keep in mind, though, we should put just as much emphasis on how we feel as how we look. Updates to your regular routine increase the potential for some great changes to your body and your mind. Looking better is a great byproduct from doing things that improve our overall health and fitness.

So what quick things can we alter in our day to day lives that will start the positive changes? We can break it down into different categories to make it a lot easier to tackle rather than trying to remember so many different things. We also need to consider our current restrictions and hurdles that may make some of these changes a challenge.

The two main categories are diet and exercise. We all pretty well know what we need to do, but sometimes forget or get caught up in our routines or ruts. Some restrictions and hurdles that can hold us back are time, environment, money, motivation, and lack of knowledge.

Let’s start with diet!
Look at ways to change your diet to healthier, more seasonal foods to get your mind and body to feel lighter and more energized. This is easier said than done, and believe me, WE ALL struggle with this. Try to make these changes at home where you have more control over what is available or choose healthier options at restaurants. It is difficult when you are out and everything being served is not part of your “improvement plan.” And when you are out at the party or event, enjoy some of the foods, but watch your portions.

Here are some tips:

  • Get up earlier to eat a healthy breakfast, giving your metabolism a kick start.
  • Prepack lunches and snacks for work to avoid temptations.
  • While out at restaurants choose leafy green salads for sides rather than fries or prepared salads (ie. potato or pasta salad). Just remember to ask for your dressing on the side.
  • Add water to your routine because drinking more water will:
    • keep your metabolism fired up and help you burn more calories, giving you energy (this is especially important in the morning and a great way to start your day).
    • keep you feeling fuller, helping you cut down on cravings. Have a glass with every meal.
    • help you avoid sugary springtime inspired beverages
  • Consider adding lemon to your water to help cleanse and refresh.
  • Have a healthy snack or meal at home where you can control what you eat before going out to reduce cravings at a party or event
  • When at parties or cookouts, use smaller plates when taking food or put your drink cup on your plate to reduce the space for food on your plate. Also, if you choose to drink alcohol, be sure to have a glass of water between drinks.

Now let’s move on to exercise!
During the winter months, time and convenience can get in the way, and the gym may be the only option for you to get a work out in. Now’s the time to take advantage of this warmer weather and take your workouts outside. Hike, bike, walk, run… a change in environment is a great motivator. Add variety to your workout routine, increasing the potential for positive changes in your body.

Here are some tips:

  • Consider hiring a trainer, even if it is just to have them create a new program for you to change it up.
  • Join a group fitness class. If you’re used to working out alone, this will not only challenge you physically, but mentally as well.
  • Try out a new gym or club (run club, bike club, hiking club, etc.)
  • Rotate through different cardio machines to change up your cardio routine.
  • Play a sport.

If you currently don’t have a workout plan, or money is tight and you can’t afford the cost of a gym membership or fitness program, consider increasing your activity level simply by adding walking into your daily routine.

  • If you take public transit to work, try getting off the bus a stop earlier to add some more activity into your day either on your way into work or when headed home, or maybe both.
  • If you drive into work, park a little farther away in the parking lot and add a few extra steps into your day.
  • Take the stairs whenever possible.
  • Plan a walk along the Beltline as part of your weekend activities.
  • Go for a walk on your lunch break, then enjoy your lunch at your desk.
  • Pack gym clothes in your work bag and take advantage of the company gym.

We have all heard these suggestions and tips, but it is up to you to follow any or all of them.  Feeling good and looking good go hand in hand so rather than focusing on the added pressures of always looking a certain way, the best approach is to focus on how you feel. Simply mixing things up in your daily activity routine will trigger some great body changes and feelings that will allow you to enjoy the warmer months whether it be at the pool or on the beach.

Whatever you choose to focus on or change, do it now.  Don’t wait until next week or next month. Spring has sprung, and each new day is a good day to start.

So, go put on your shorts, t-shirts, or bathing suit, grab a drink, and meet me at the pool!