We love New Year’s and the challenge of resolutions, but there is something about Spring that rejuvenates our spirits and makes us believe in the promise of change. With the warming weather, blooming flowers, and longer days, now is the perfect time to commit to your health and devise a workout plan that you can follow not as a weight loss plan, but as a lifestyle plan. Follow these tips to spring into fitness this season.
- Consult Your Doctor. No matter your fitness level or medical history, consult your doctor before beginning any new fitness routine to discuss your goals. He or she can help you to develop a fitness routine focused on achieving optimal wellness, taking into consideration any of your health concerns or physical limitations. After all, if a new fitness plan leaves you injured or with an exacerbated chronic condition, it won’t be a plan you can maintain.
- Focus on Wellness, Not Weight Loss. Even if weight loss is part of your get-fit plan, don’t let yourself be tempted by meal plans, supplements, diet strategies, or exercise machines that promise rapid weight loss. Following a realistic and healthy weight loss plan—and one in which you won’t be likely to gain it back quickly—you should only lose one to two pounds per week. Make sure any plans you follow incorporate a balanced and healthy diet, at least 30 minutes of cardio three to five days a week, and time for recovery and relaxation.
- Build Up to Harder Workouts. Once you share your fitness plans with your friends and family, they may be excited to invite you to their advanced spin class or get you a membership at their CrossFit gym. If you have not been working out regularly and are starting from beginner’s fitness level, be realistic about the intensity of your workouts. Based on your discussions with your doctor, you may want to begin with a walking and yoga plan, and then work up to jogging and running, then add in strength training. By trying to bench press 250 on the first day of your new workout, you could be at risk of a dangerous injury.
- Build Activity into Your Daily Routine. Remember that three trips to the gym per week will help you meet your goals, but there are also a variety of smaller, daily routines that if modified, can result in improved cardiovascular health and weight loss. Take a walk around the block on your lunch break instead of working at your desk, park at the far end of parking lots, take the stairs instead of elevators, and take your dog for a walk every day. The same strategy can be applied to your diet. Swap mayonnaise on your sandwich for mustard, replace your venti, whole milk latte for drip coffee with a tablespoon of half-and-half, and substitute your afternoon trip to the vending machine for a candy bar with some hummus and carrots, and you’ll be well on your way to seeing the results you want.
Remember that fitness isn’t a short-term commitment. It is a lifestyle choice. Make the decision this spring to commit to your healthiest version of yourself, and work with your doctor to devise a strategy to make it happen. By this time next year, your spring fitness goals just may be running in that 10K you’ve always talked about running.
Check with your primary care provider before you start a new exercise routine.