In a perfect world, working out wouldn’t be a seasonal activity. But despite the best-laid plans, it’s easy to get off track in the winter when the skies are gray and the weather is cold. Whether you’re looking to shake off the winter doldrums or get in shape for summer, spring is the perfect time of year to get back to healthy living.
We spoke to Meghan Aro, an ACE certified personal trainer and nutritionist specialist in Playa Vista, California, to get her thoughts about the best ways jumpstart your spring fitness routine. Read on for her inspiring tips.
“Take advantage of the weather. Try running, biking, swimming, or doing interval workouts at a track or soccer field. Swimming is a phenomenal workout because it’s really challenging and there’s no impact to the joints, so it’s sustainable.”
“You also have to have some kind of strength training, whether that means you’re lifting weights, doing pilates, yoga, or barre, or some mishmash of all of that. Break your workout up into days when you’re focusing on strength, and then when your muscles are recovering, do cardio to get fresh blood to your muscles so you don’t get sore.”
Make a Plan
“A lot of people get overwhelmed because they look at the big picture. They think ‘I’m so out of shape’ or ‘I need to lose this many pounds.’ You have to take it one day at a time and you have to make a plan.”
Meghan says even if you have a plan in your head, it’s important to physically write it down. “Be very certain about what you’re going to do when you walk in the gym; don’t go in without a plan because then you don’t accomplish anything.”
Set Realistic Goals
“Don’t exercise for more than an hour a day. If you’re smart about it, you can get an efficient workout done in 30 to 45 minutes. Don’t overdo it or you’ll burn out. You’ll get tired and you won’t be able to keep it up because it’s not sustainable.”
“People get busy and don’t realize they need to be drinking water even when they’re not thirsty. If you’re drinking tea or coffee, those caffeinated beverages dehydrate you, so you have to compensate.”
Meghan’s advice? “Get a cute water bottle you like, carry it around all day, and fill it up when it’s empty.
Get Plenty of Sleep
“Sleep is so important and is definitely something most people overlook. As soon as you start working out, your body is going to need extra sleep to repair itself. I suggest no fewer than seven hours a night.”
Eat Clean and Healthy
“Most people start working out because they want to lose weight, but your diet is the most important thing if you’re trying to lose weight. Your workouts will shape your body and get your heart and lungs healthy, but your food is everything. You can’t outrun a bad diet. It’s not about starving your body—you should eat at least 1600 calories every day—it’s about the quality of what you’re eating. Eat things that are nutrient dense that are going to fuel you; don’t eat empty calories.”
Move All Day Long
“General movement throughout the day is more important than time in the gym. If you’re active during the day, you’ll probably burn more calories that way.”
Meghan suggests activities anyone can do, like taking a walk at lunch, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, standing up and walking around every hour, or taking your dog for a long walk. “That kind of stuff really adds up.”
Stay Motivated by Setting Goals
“I never focus on weight goals with my clients. It’s more important and fun to set performance goals. The weight will come off as you get strong, faster, and in better shape, but it’s not always going to come off as fast as you think or want.”
Some performance goals you can set:
- Run a mile in X minutes
- See how long you can run without stopping
- Set a goal for how many pushups you want to do
- Run a 5K
- Do circuit training for time and try to take that time down
“If you’re starting to get into fitness, the most important thing is to find a workout you like doing, so that you’ll keep up with it.” She also recommends making a fun playlist that will keep you motivated or splurging on a new workout outfit so you look and feel cute.
You can also find a friend to exercise with or take a class to learn healthy recipes to cook in the kitchen. Whatever your fitness goals, you need to have fun while you’re working to achieve them!