This morning I had to laugh. If I didn’t I’d have cried. Tomorrow Spring will have sprung – and so have the buttons on my jeans! I like to convince myself that everyone else is feeling exactly the same as me right now. Over the last 4 or 5 months we’ve embraced slow cooking, hearty dinners, weekends spent baking scones and enjoying cups of tea – all those Hallmark wintery moments we all love. And if you’re like me, the jackets, scarves, boots and chunky jumpers create the perfect hiding place for the flabby little too tight bits!
The truth is I know that many of you have dilligently kept up your exercise routines and your healthy eating habits all throughout winter. I applaud your commitment and conviction and I wish more than anything I was just like you. Right now you’ll be relishing the arrival of Spring as a great excuse to get your legs and perfectly toned arms back out into the balmy Spring sunshine.
If this isn’t you and you’re like me, Spring is always a timely reminder that our walks must re-commence and high protein/low carb/low fat meals need to top the menu. Goodbye two coffees a day, goodbye a sweet little treat in front of the fire at night. Yes, the weaning process will be a little painful and it’ll take a couple of weeks but it must be done. But it doesn’t have to be completely dramatic …
Here’s my 10 tips on Springing back into Spring.
1. Make a plan to exercise; most importantly make it achievable. There’s no use saying you’re going to walk for an hour every day if you know that 2 mornings a week you have to get the kids to childcare early and 3 afternoons a week you’re on after school sport activity. Instead go back to basics and start to incorporate ‘incidental’ exercise back into your day. Walk the stairs and ditch the lift, do a few quick laps of the oval while the kids are at soccer – you don’t even need to be in your full-on walking attire, just walk. This year I’ve hired a treadmill and now get up an hour earlier each morning. I watch Sunrise while I walk which means I catch the news and get some exercise in before the kids wake up. If I do more exercise during the day, it’s a bonus. If not, at least I did the 2kms in the morning. If solo exercise bores you to tears (as it does for many) find a local sporting team or class you’d like to join. Zumba is still bigger than ever and local netball, cricket, touch footy teams, beach volleyball or indoor soccer teams are always looking for adult members. The great thing about team sports is you have to turn up – you owe it to the team and the fun of being with a group disguises the fact you’re exercising.
2. Lower your carbohydrate intake and focus on lightening up. Put an end to carbs for the next 6 months and kiss mashed potatoes goodbye, replace white rice with brown (and halve the quantity) and include just enough wholemeal pasta to satisfy you. If you need a little more to fill up, add a big leafy salad to each meal. Tonight in place of risoni, I had a massive green salad. I still had the lemony tomato sauce with my meatballs but actually feel so much better. If you find the constant shopping to stock up on salad, vegetables and fruit a barrier to healthier eating, find a local person who delivers a weekly box. For $40 a week, we get a full box of fruits and vegetables that keeps us really well stocked for at least 5 days of the week.
3. Dial up your drinking. No, that doesn’t mean an extra 2 glasses of wine each night – it means figuring out how you can drink at least 2 litres of water each day. Personally I hate the process of going to the toilet (bet you’re glad you know that) so I subconsciously avoid drinking water. But of course that’s no good for anyone so I work on my water intake by drinking at least 600ml while I’m on the treadmill in the morning. If I’m in the office, I try to drink 4 large glasses of water and then I’ll have another large glass before dinner. If it’s a ‘mummy day’ with the kids, I carry an extra water bottle for me in their backpack/swimming bag/beach bag etc. It’s also a great idea to keep a bottle of water in one of the coffee cup holders in your car – must better for you than a drive through Coke from Maccas!
4. Plan some activity based catch ups with friends. While there’s nothing nicer than chilling out with some friends over a few drinks, most people with kids love the idea of an outdoors catch up. Plan a picnic at the park and include a game of cricket or touch footy. Arrange to catch up for brunch at the beach – have a sandcastle building competition or bring along some wooden spoons and boiled eggs for ‘egg and spoon’ races. It’s always a stack of fun and everyone ends up getting into it.
5. Make a list of jobs that you can do while you’re watching TV at night. Yes, it might be something boring like mending socks, sewing on buttons or ironing but at least you’re not sitting there chewing on a choccie or scooping up some icecream. If jobs don’t do it for you – find a hobby you can do at night. A friend of mine has just started mosaics – she now spends a couple of hours each night sorting, cutting and arranging the tiles each night. Keeps her fingers and her creativity full occupied!
6. Give yourself an overhaul. If you’re anything like me, you may have let yourself go a little over Winter (well more than a little). Shave or wax your legs, get a pedicure (or give yourself one), wax your eyebrows, pop on a cleansing mask, get your hair recoloured/colour it yourself or have a good trim. Find a new lip gloss and start moisturising again. Go through your cupboards and drawers and get ruthless. If you haven’t worn anything for over a year – you won’t. Get rid of it and make some space. Go through and rediscover what goes with what and the accessories you already own that will bring new life to a current outfit. You’ll be amazed at what’s at the back of the cupboard that will make you feel good again.
7. Give yourself a milestone. “By Christmas I will have …”. This doesn’t have to be food or exercise related but it will give your Spring purpose and direction. A goal promotes activity and activity promotes well … everything.
8. Get the family involved in your Spring into Spring campaign. Find an afternoon each week when you can do something together that’s fun. Have a picnic dinner in your front yard and invite the neighbours. Take your bowls of cereal to the park near school and have breakfast outdoors. Make your time together fun and take turns thinking up some fun, cheap activities you can all day.
9. Earth yourself. This may sound whacky but it’s an amazing way to become grounded again. Walk on the grass or sand barefoot as often as possible and swim in the ocean if you can. Connect your body directly with the Earth and let Mother Nature drain away the negative energy that is generated by carpets, heaters, air conditioning, dust mites etc. Allow your body to soak up a little bit of sun each day – no, don’t get burnt and don’t overdo the exposure but Vitamin D is vital to everyone’s health.
10. Revise the plan up; keep setting your sights a little higher each week. Believe it or not, after a week or two of Springing into Spring, you’ll feel like exercising, your mood will have improved, you’ll be sleeping better and hopefully everyone will be as sunny and balmy as the days.
How have you fared this winter? What’s your waistline doing? What will you change this Spring? We’d love you to share.