The Secret of Spring: Three Ways to Jump Start Your Fitness
Spring has sprung. The cranes are flying north, the cherry blossoms are screaming for attention, and politicians everywhere are madly scrambling to eat the local junk food and kiss every baby in sight. The sap is rising.
Step outside into the sweet morning sunshine, and inhale deeply enough to feel your naked toes wiggle and spread. What’s that smell? Change is in the air. Where I am now, adding balance and speed to my parallel turns, the snow on the slopes of the Eastern Rockies is melting so quickly ski jackets are being sold for 70 percent off. Joy is everywhere. But step carefully — so is thawing dog poop.
Spring, dear readers, is nature’s way of saying you can begin again. It’s as true for your own health and wellness as it is for trees. Spring is the high season for personal renewal, the perfect time to plant new seeds and celebrate new growth. A new seed on your path to a healthier lifestyle might look like deciding to give up artificial sugars and processed food. The new growth is your increasing awareness of how much better you feel when you don’t fill your body with energy-zapping, fat-boosting additives and chemicals.
So here are three of my Energy Express Springtime Tune-up Tips to help you get the juices of renewal started. Or restarted. Or pushed to a higher level of personal wellness:
— SET A GOAL. This spring will set you up for an even happier, more active summer if you choose a couple of fitness goals to focus on for the next three months. So what’ll it be? Do you want to run a 5k by June? Bicycle 50 miles? Walk to the grocery store and back, pushing your grandchild?
Write down your one or two goals in a journal, and be as detailed as possible: “I want to run a 5k on June 5, 2012, to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.” Then set weekly goals that move you toward successfully completing your three-month goal. Those weekly goals need to be detailed, too!
Keep track of it all in your spring fitness journal. Goal setting is one of the best ways to change behavior, but you have to play by the rules. And the No. 1 rule of goal-making is “Set SMART goals: specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and timelined.
So, for example, if I were a person interested in running a 5k three months from now, my SMART goal for next week would be: “I will walk-run for two miles, on Saturday and Tuesday of next week, and I will record my time.”
In the weekly goals to follow, over the next three months, I would schedule myself for longer runs until I worked up to running 5 kilometers, in comfort. As for shortening your time, it’s your choice. Faster is not necessarily better when it comes to recreational running, but if you’re competitive in that way, be my guest.
— SPRING CLEAN YOUR FITNESS GEAR. Now’s the time to clean and store your winter sports gear and get out the stuff you need for spring and beyond. Don’t dread it. Think of it as burning calories with a purpose. Clean and lubricate your bike. Check the grip and tension on your tennis racket. Make sure your athletic shoes are ready for action. If they’re worn out — tread gone, cushioning shot, support-free — buy another pair, because ill-fitting shoes bring misery to your feet, ankles, knees.
Spring is also a good time to focus on new sports gear purchases. Buy now, play later … and remember, cheap, shoddy sports gear is no bargain. Buy the best quality you can afford, and check out secondhand stores and Craigslist-type sites for great buys.
SPRING CLEAN YOUR MENTAL GEAR. Reflect on your current mental attitude toward your own health and wellness. Are you frustrated because you’ve tried and tried to exercise more and eat smarter, and never stuck with it? That’s OK. Change doesn’t happen in a straight line. Spring is here. The sun is shining. Shift yourself mentally, and know that you have the ability to spring forward in a whole new way, step by little step, starting today, a slow, steady and sensual movement toward the light.
ENERGY EXPRESS-O! DOING OR NOT DOING, SPRING INSPIRES CHANGE
“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.” — Lao Tzu
Marilynn Preston — wellness coach, personal trainer and speaker on healthy lifestyle issues — is the creator of Energy Express, the longest-running syndicated fitness column in the country. She has a website, http://marilynnpreston.com and welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to MyEnergyExpress@aol.com. To find out more about Preston and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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