While much of the country has endured the effects of back-to-back winter storms, it’s hard to believe that spring is just around the corner. If you’ve let your health and fitness goals go, don’t worry—there’s still time to get in shape before you head off to spring break. Here are eight simple, doable ideas you can work into your everyday routine.
1. Aim for at Least Five Days of Cardio
Cardiovascular exercise consists of speed walking, running, jump-roping, and anything else that can get your heart revved up. Aside from basic heart conditioning, cardio is also key to helping you burn calories. If you’re looking to lose weight before spring break, you may need to add more cardio to your weekly routine.
2. Add in Strength Training at Least Two Days a Week
Strength training helps to build muscle mass, which can leave you with a thinner physique. Additionally, muscles help you burn calories throughout the day, including times of rest. As a general rule of thumb, the National Academy of Sports Medicine recommends strength training two to three times per week on non-consecutive days. For best results, you’ll also want to do strength training in conjunction with a regular cardio routine.
3. Get Your Daily Steps In
The old rule of thumb was to walk at least 10,000 steps every day. As Prevention notes, however, you may need at least 7,000 steps for overall health, but more than this to lose weight. If you don’t have a fitness watch or use a pedometer app, now’s the time to consider using one. Note how many steps you take per day, and if it’s less than 7,000, start gradually increasing this number each day.
4. Focus on Eating Whole Foods
Instead of “dieting” or reaching for a processed diet shake, consider shifting your focus to whole foods. This consists of fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, beans, and legumes. Whole foods are more nutritious and keep you full longer, while also reducing junk food cravings. As a bonus, whole foods also don’t contain the salt and sugar that often contribute to abdominal bloating.
5. Make Water Your Go-To Beverage
Water is the best beverage for weight loss. It’s not only calorie-free but can also help boost metabolism, get rid of toxins, and suppress your appetite. Starting today, aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Regularly getting 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night helps fuel your body for the workouts you want to fit in between now and spring break, but it also helps you lose weight in other ways. Chronic lack of sleep can increase your appetite, make you more likely to skip your workouts and reduce your metabolism.
7. Adopt a Stress Management Routine
Before you let the stress of your upcoming spring break plans consume your day, keep in mind that chronic stress can also contribute to weight gain. Stress can also make it harder to lose weight because of excess cortisol. To combat the effects of stress, take time out of each day to relax. Simple ideas include breathing exercises, stretching, or a warm bath.
8. Find an Accountability Partner
Sharing your goals with a friend or loved one can help you find the accountability you need to stay motivated before spring break. Better yet, you can even get them to join you! Whether you walk or run together, or hit the gym after work, some people find that it’s easier to get in shape when they have an accountability partner.