We can all breathe a sigh of relief at the passing of winter; the days are now consistently warmer, and the odds of a sudden cold snap are that much lower. And while the time for jeans and long-sleeved shirts is definitely not over, it's not unrealistic to assume that warm weather wearables are going to see far more use over the next couple weeks.
If you are like many other Americans, however, you've likely put on a few pounds (or more) over the winter – a few pounds you probably wouldn't mind losing before slipping back into your shorts or capris. If you want to look and feel your best when summer comes around, now is the time to start exerting a bit more control over your diet and exercise habits.
Here are a few suggestions to start yourself on the right track, health-wise, without killing your motivation right out of the gate.
[info courtesy of webmd.com]
Forget "dieting" – In fact, you should try adding foods to your diet instead of subtracting them. Add in healthy goodies you really love, like deep-red cherries, juicy grapes, or crunchy snow peas. Slip your favorite fruits into your bag lunch and breakfast cereal; add the veggies into soups, stews, and sauces.
Scale back on the foods you already enjoy – One of the easiest ways to cut back without feeling denied is to switch to lower-calorie versions of the foods you crave. A pizza tastes just as good with reduced-fat cheese, and when you garnish low-fat ice cream with your favorite toppers, who notices those missing calories?
Boost your fiber intake, too. Fiber helps you feel satisfied longer, so while you lighten your favorite foods, you can easily amp up the fiber by adding a cup of whole wheat flour to your pizza dough, or toss a handful of red bell peppers on the pizza.
Don't forget to lighten the drinks going with that meal, too. Try switching from high-calorie favorites to diet soda or light beer, or maybe add a spritz of seltzer to your wine.
Avoid more structured workouts, initially – Rather than jumping into an intense workout program right off the bat, burn calories and invigorate muscles by pursuing activities you consider fun or enjoyable. Beachcombing, riding bikes, hiking, washing the car, playing Frisbee, or even chasing the dog around the yard are all valid options.
Walk as much as possible – Walking around your neighborhood when the weather's nice is an easy way to keep fit. Other options to get yourself moving are to:
Trade your power mower for a push version.
Park your car at the back of the lot.
Sweep the drive or rake the leaves instead of using a leaf-blower.
Get off the bus a few stops earlier.
Hike the mall, being sure to hit all the levels.
Take the stairs every chance you get.
Crank the music and get your heart rate up the next time you mop or vacuum.
Drink more water – Down some water before a meal and you're likely to eat less.
Get in some resistance exercise while engaged in other activites – Do you tend to spend a lot of time in front of the television? Why not combine some of that down time with a little bit of exercise? During commercial breaks, pedal your stationery bike, walk the treadmill, or slip in a little strength training with objects around the house. It doesn't matter exactly what you do, so long as you're up and active.