Few would argue that this is the best time of year; the weather is still spectacular, with clear, sunny days that aren't too hot. If you're like most people, this weather does something to you. These warm, breezy days are the stuff of lore and legend, that spring fever, that vernal itch. It's the traditional fuel to spring cleaning or new romantic ventures.
But even if you're all tidied up and happily married, you can use that spring zing for great personal benefit, especially if you're trying to get healthy. An awful lot of people feel a real vigor and earnestness about losing weight and getting healthy around New Year's. But by the time spring has sprung, that New Year's resolution has melted with the winter snows. So use the spring to get the bounce back into that commitment! And think in terms of both what you're putting in and what you're putting out.
It's a great time to start putting out some renewed energy on your once-and-future exercise efforts. Most people want to be outdoors this time of year, so it probably won't take much arm-twisting to get you out of the armchair. Who wouldn't want to go for a nice walk - or do some other outdoor activity - in this weather?
If you're just starting, or restarting, remember that you want to move at a good pace. It doesn't need to be speedwalking, but a casual mosey around the block isn't much exercise, so try to pick up the pace a bit. Try to get yourself to where talking while you walk is just a bit of an effort. Depending on your personal habits, a brisk spring stroll could make a nice wake-me-up in the morning, or a terrific pick-me-up if you work it in later in the day.
Have a golfing habit? Think about doing a round without the cart. Or consider getting into more focused recreation with a team sport, where you'll have the added advantage of collective support for your activity. Softball is the spring classic, with something for every skill, age and fitness level.
Of course, the truth about softball is that as exercise, it's mostly a lot of vigorous standing around and yelling, and for those who can hit, there's the occasional desperate dash. But if, as a team, everyone is committed to a little pre-game run or regular warm-up exercises, you could get what you need in terms of raising your heart rate. There's nothing like peer pressure to help you push through that apathy or around that last curve of the run.
One subtle advantage of organized recreational activities -- even those that aren't especially demanding -- is that they can help you break out of the sedentary mindset. If you don't think of yourself as the sort of person who works out, chances are you won't. If you think you're not the type of person who is physically active, you probably won't be. Playing league sports, joining a cycling club, even a walking group, helps you begin to think of yourself as the kind of person who would be fit, and for many people, that mental hurdle is the biggest one to get over.
Now, what about what you're putting in? With the miracles of modern shipping, you don't really have to wait for spring to get the best variety in fresh fruits and vegetables nowadays. But about this time of year, they do start to be a little more affordable, no matter where you are.
That means you can get terrific, fresh local tomatoes at the same time you'll start to see the prices drop on those creamy California avocados. That's a salad waiting to happen. Or chopped together with the right seasonings and a bowl of low-fat chips alongside, that guacamole could make the better part of a meal.
Almost every American needs to eat more fresh fruits and veggies, and one of the most common excuses people offer for not eating enough is that they're just not very convenient. But so many fruits are the perfect finger food! You wash and eat, and then just toss the pit or the core. That's no harder to get rid of than an empty cookie wrapper or chip bag.
Apples and oranges are hardier fruits for carrying than, say, peaches or mangoes, but you can also opt for any of the firm-fleshed plums if you want something to travel with you. Even if you have a tender peach, those affordable, disposable, plastic containers come in all sizes and shapes now, and it's easy enough to plunk a peach into one.
And a container about that size is a good carrier for veggie pieces, too. If you prefer your fresh veggies with a dip, you could take a second container, but try this instead: toss them with just a small amount of your favorite low-fat dressing, just enough so that you get some extra flavor. A light glazing of dressing shouldn't leave your fingers any more slippery than a serving of potato chips. You'll avoid the mess, learn to love your veggies with less dressing, and be able to enjoy them where ever you go.
And speaking of learning new ways, next time you go grocery shopping, think of yourself as the sort of gal who spends a little extra time in the produce department, instead of at the bagged snacks. Be the type of gal who carefully looks over the fresh spring selections. You might see something you don't normally notice, something you haven't had for years, or maybe something you've never tried at all. Enjoy it - and your health - this spring.
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