Spring Clean Your Health

Just like the first of the year, a blank page in your journal or day planner, and the start of a new day, spring is filled with new possibilities and potential. With a new idea and the desire to put it into action, you can begin spring—the season of growth and renewal—by spring cleaning your health. Throw out old excuses and get motivated for a fresh start by adopting new healthy habits for spring.

Move and move more. There’s a saying: “You can’t make your butt look better by sitting on it.” Funny, but true. Even if you never miss a day of working out, you can’t retire to your butt for the rest of the day. Don’t view physical activity as something you only do for 30 minutes. Find ways to be active all day in addition to regular exercise. Take the stairs. Park far away from wherever you are headed. Do some work or take your phone calls standing up. Consider investing in a standing workstation. Decide to wake up and move more and then look for ways to do it. People in constant motion burn more calories and they are healthier.

Strengthen your body. Moving your body more is essential to spring cleaning your health, but what condition is your body in? How much muscle do you have? Devote some time during your week to strengthen your body with weight training. If you don’t have hand weights or access to them, use your own body weight. Push-ups, planks, squats and lunges are some of the best exercises you can do to add muscle to your body without any special equipment. Muscle is the secret to a revved up metabolism and protecting your body as you age.

It’s not you, it’s me. Stressful situations can take your focus away from properly caring for yourself. If you neglect yourself for the sake of external problems or other people, you will eventually create more problems than you can solve. Consider what you need to recharge and do something—however small—for yourself each day. You will be sending yourself the message that you are worth it!

Create the rainbow. Spring is when farmer’s markets come alive once again. Take advantage and reduce the amount of processed foods you eat. Aim to have a rainbow of colors on your plate. Eat more veggies and fruits and foods closer to their natural state. When you take care of the inside, you will like more of what appears on the outside—just in time for those warmer months.

Do a goal check. How are you doing on the goals you set for yourself in the start of this year? If they have gotten away from you, how can you get back on track? Practice self-compassion, toss guilt out the window, and just start over. Spring is the perfect time for a fresh start. If it helps, start with the end in mind and think about how you want to feel when this year concludes and then spring forward with your goals.

Develop your stick-to-it-ness. One great way to kill your confidence is to constantly start and stop your fitness regimen. It’s common for people to get psyched up and dive into working out and then drop it altogether when the craziness of life intervenes. But if you start and stop all the time, you are setting yourself up for a never-ending cycle where you won’t see any progress. Commit to what you can achieve, at least at first. If you start overly ambitious, you are less likely to stick with your routine. Try two or three times per week at first until you regularly stick to your routine for a month. If you see that you are steadily making progress, you will gain momentum and confidence you can build on.

Blast past perceived limits. An exhilarating feeling comes from the discovery that you can do more than you thought you could. Think about how you feel when you finish an intense workout, run your first mile, finish a new weight lifting routine, or venture to a new fitness class. You have a sense of accomplishment. When you surprise yourself, it will motivate you to keep going and set your sights higher.

Chase healthy, not perfect. Chasing healthy is an achievable goal. Chasing perfect is not. Fear of showing imperfections keeps people from achieving or even trying. Just go for it. Give it a try. You don’t have to be the best, just do your best when it comes to your health. Healthy is a lifestyle. Perfect is an illusion.

You can spring clean your health by changing one habit at a time. Drop those old unhealthy habits and swap them one by one for a healthier habit. Once you stick to a new behavior for 30 days or more, habits begin to stick, and when you are consistent over time, small changes can lead to big results. Give your health a fresh start for spring.


Chris Freytag has dedicated her adult life to motivating people to lead healthier lives. A contributing editor to Prevention magazine, she's also written two books, Shortcuts to Big Weight Loss, and her latest, 2-Week Total Body Turnaround. She also has appeared on NBC's Today show and MSNBC's Weekend Update.

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