My favorite time of the year is here. The snow starts to melt; the possibility of an end to the cold winter months is on the horizon. I get off work and the sun is still shining. Not to mention pushing those thick sweaters to the back of the closet. Everything is a promise of new beginnings and warmer weather.
Along with the melting snow and the longer days, spring brings with it the chance to turn over a new leaf. It is the perfect time to evaluate where we are and where we want to be.
“An optimist is the human personification of spring.” — Susan J. Bissonette
Spring brings change; from darkness to light, from cold to warmth, from grey to bursts of color. It is a time for cleaning, new growth in gardens, and baby animals. The new life, new beginnings, and bright, colorful new look that spring brings are hopeful signs of life renewal. We don’t remain in any one season or cycle.
We, too, have cycles and rhythms to our lives and to our growth process. What better time of the year to introduce some “house cleaning” and “new growth” to our wellness routines!
We can spring into action and spring clean our wellness routine.
1.Set a schedule
During winter, at least in the city, the less you leave your home the better. You skip morning workouts and prefer to stay warm under cozy blankets. You skip evening workouts because you get off work and it’s already dark. Very un-motivational! Now you get to recharge your fitness goals. You can post your exercise plan for the week on a calendar app, smartphone, or if your like me, pencil it in your old-school agenda. Planning your exercise in advance allows you to allot time for it, commit to it, and at the end of the week you get the satisfaction of knowing you achieved your goals for those days! Which brings me to the next point.
2. Create new goals
Now is the time to switch up your workout routine and try something new. Mixing up your routine is important so you don’t plateau and so your muscles don’t become used to a specific way of moving. It’s time to take the cardio workouts outdoors or maybe try bootcamp classes near the water. Maybe your goal can be as simple as bumping up the times you visit the gym. Hey, it’s simple yet effective. “Goals provide the energy source that powers our lives. One of the best ways we can get the most from the energy we have is to focus it. That is what goals can do for us; concentrate our energy,” stated Denis Waitley.
3. Change your thoughts
Instead of setting goals with the destination or end game in sight, concentrate on the journey. You can find a workout you enjoy and makes you notice all the other spiritual and emotional benefits. This is the key to making fitness a lifestyle. When you notice how much it positively affects other areas of your life, you won’t want to miss a workout.
4. Spring clean your pantry
It’s time to throw out those leftover Valentine’s Day chocolates. And while you’re at it, spring clean your pantry and throw away other foods that are low in nutritional value, such as cookies, pretzels, cereals, white bread, and yes everything that has the word “100 calorie snack pack” or “Skinny” on the label. Instead, start making those weekly trips to the Farmer’s Markets and get to know your local farmers. This way your foods will be fresh and seasonally appropriate to fit your body’s needs.
5. Pump up that playlist
Are you still listening to the same tracks from December? Do some playlist spring cleaning by downloading fresh energetic music to get you motivated and happy. If you plan to incorporate outdoor fitness into your new routine, it is vital to have music on the go. With the new season it’s time to delete Mumford & Sons’s “Winter Winds” from your list and replace it with U2’s “Beautiful Day.” Countless studies have shown a link between music tempo and exercise performance. In a 2010 study, scientists noticed that cyclists tended to work harder while listening to faster-paced music. When was the birth of Soul Cycle?
6. Stretch it out
If you normally skip the cool down due to the fact that you can’t wait to get home and curl up under a blanket, it’s time to dedicate 15 minutes to stretching or foam rolling at the end of a workout. Stretching after a workout helps to reduce muscle fatigue. After working out, your muscles are warm and you benefit from increased blood circulation. Stretching will help your muscles to recover faster from a tough workout. Other benefits include, improving your joint range of motion and overall athletic performance, and decreasing your risk of injury. Sidenote: muscle soreness is one of the reasons that many people skip exercising.
7. Spring clean that workout gear A new, bright colored fitness outfit can give motivation and perspective to your upcoming fitness regimen. Still sweating it out in the same sports-bra as last year? Maybe it’s time to get a new one (FYI a typical bra has the lifespan of about 8 months).
8. Hydrate hydrate hydrate! The importance of drinking water is not stressed highly enough. Habits are created easier if we have visual beneficial results. I always used to hear the importance of drinking water and it wasn’t until I witnessed the physical benefits that I started making a conscious effort to drink more. I used to suffer from migraines. Used to get 3 to 4 headaches per week. Now I know that I was severely dehydrated. So, I started drinking more water and the headaches miraculously disappeared. Now I get a headache per month. True story. With the change in weather it’s even more important to up your water game. By drinking more water, you avoid muscle cramping and fatigue. The more you sweat, the more fluids you need to replace, so drink up especially after a vigorous workout. This brings me to the next…
9. Go green As flowers start blooming we can have a new grown appreciation for the planet as so much green surrounds us. In the city, central park is the epitome of nature at work. The park goes from being barren and brown to being lush and brightly colored. Now is the perfect time to trade in those daily plastic water bottles for a stainless steel bottle that is reusable and planet friendly.
10. Spice up your weekend activities
Break up your routine with outdoor activities like tennis or golf, or team up with friends for an afternoon of spikeball (which I had seen pitched on Shark Tank and now see every time I picnic in Central Park.) All that Netflixing and Chillin’ done during the cold winter months where all you wanted to do was curl up with the heater are long behind us. Start treating the weekends as opportunities to do fun, outdoor activities that will get the blood flow moving. Biking around the city, hiking, swimming, there are countless ways to do something productive and fun that also gets you breathing all that spring air.
11. Sign up for a race or challenge
Find something that interests you and adds a positive goal to your fitness routine that will make you feel better and give yet another purpose to your fitness training. Look into local half or full marathon races or challenges that can be found in many fitness studios. You can even get friends together and get in that quality time as well. Maybe you can do something that you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t found the time. I signed up for a 100 hour Yoga training. I always wanted to do it and kept postponing it because I was always too busy. Well guess what. I think I will always be busy. If it’s not due to work, it will be due to countless other personal reasons.
12. Indulge in a little self-love and reward yourself
As a friend wisely said to me: you are your biggest investment. And it’s so true. So take care of your body and mind and schedule in that relaxation time. You know the scheduling I talked about? Well, pencil in specific blocks of time for a massage, manicure, or some “you” time.
If you liked this story check out Being Present During Exercise for a Better Workout and Want to Be Fit for the Rest of Your Life, Read This.
Originally published at www.ivonneackerman.com on March 31, 2017.
Originally published at medium.com