A new season is a great time for a fresh start, which is why we always get excited about spring. As the weather warms up (and bathing-suit season draws ever closer) we get extra-motivated to embrace a healthier lifestyle. As you emerge from hibernation, let us help make this spring your fittest yet!
To learn more we turned to Joyce Daoust, certified nutritionist and national bestselling co-author of The Formula: A Personalized 40-30-30 Weight Loss Program. She shares her tips on how to best get fit this season.
Know your caloric requirements
Winter and the holiday season usually mean excess food and drinks, but in the spring and summer we feel the need to restrict ourselves (sometimes trying crazy diets to lose weight quickly). Not a good plan, warns Daoust. “If you eat too many calories, you’ll gain weight. Eat too few calories and you’ll lose lean muscle, slow your metabolism and lose even less fat,” she explains. But if you eat the proper amount of calories for your gender, size and activity level (with the 40-30-30 ratio of carbohydrate, protein and fat), you can maximize the burning of stored body fat for energy.
Hire a nutrition coach
If can be tough to get motivated to eat right and focus on fitness after a long winter. Just knowing where to start when it comes to what to eat — and what not to eat — can be frustrating enough. Make things easier with some help. “Just as a great private trainer teaches you how to train correctly and efficiently for your individual needs, a nutrition coach can show you exactly what to eat to maintain lean muscle mass, lose body fat and enjoy a lifetime of better health and wellness,” says Daoust.
Oh, how we love our simple carbs, but they can make getting fit that much harder if that’s all you’re eating. “A bowl of cereal for breakfast or even a banana before your work out can dramatically slow your ability to burn stored body fat during exercise,” Daoust explains. “When carbohydrates are eaten without adequate protein and fat, blood sugar levels rise and stimulate the release of insulin, a fat storage hormone that slows your body’s natural access to stored body fat for energy,” she adds. Even worse, insulin converts any excess carbohydrates (glucose) into fat.
Change your workout
To really put the focus on fitness this spring, shake up your workout. “If your body stops responding to your workouts, it’s time to change up your routine and push yourself to reach new fitness levels and goals,” Daoust says. Consider working with a private trainer just for spring, or challenging yourself to a few of the hottest workouts like P90X, TRX, the Bar Method, Dailey method, CrossFit or kettlebells.
Eliminate high-glycemic carbohydrates
Not seeing the results you want? Daoust tells us you can always kick up your weight loss another notch by completely eliminating high-glycemic carbohydrates such as starchy vegetables and grains (white pasta, bread) and choosing only medium- and low-glycemic carbohydrates from fruits and vegetables. “They contain a higher percentage of water and fiber and are packed with nutrients, with little or no starch or gluten,” she explains. It’s always a good idea, however, to talk to a nutritionist or dietitian before you eliminate too many food items from your diet.
Monitor your progress
Nutrition journals can help you plan your meals, monitor your fitness and weight loss results and keep you focused and motivated. Spring is the perfect time to start a food and fitness diary, says Daoust. She also suggests having your body fat tested every few months to monitor and record your actual body fat percentage and lean muscle-mass gains. “When the scale stays the same but your clothes fit better and you look better, you’re probably losing fat and gaining and toning valuable lean muscle mass.”