Many people often use spring as a chance to clean up their lives – getting rid of old clothes through the Goodwill and yard sales, cleaning out cars to prep for road trips, and purging the refrigerator of the comfort foods that kept them warm during winter’s dreary nights.
Springtime – the bridge between winter’s sweaters and summer’s bikinis – gives us 90 days to shed our mammalian blubber, slimming down and toning up to show some skin and soak up the sun! Ninety days is quite a bit of time to make some changes. With some goals, a clear plan, and diligent effort, you can safely and healthily make some changes for summertime – and build a lifestyle that can last through next winter and into the summer months of years to come!
First, goals! SMART goals help set a vision for what you want to accomplish and how you will get there; the word SMART in an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. These kinds of goals include details that are pertinent to the accomplishment of the task you set for yourself and increase accountability. Many people set this goal: I want to lose weight. A smarter option for this goal would be: I want to lose 15 pounds in 10 weeks. This goal includes:
- specific, measurable details (i.e., 15 pounds)
- …that are attainable and realistic (fifteen pounds in 10 weeks equals a loss of 1.5 pounds per week, which is challenging, but safe)
- …with a time limit (i.e., 10 weeks).
After setting SMART goals, create a plan. Ask yourself, “What will I need to do to get to where I want to be safely in the time I have set?” To achieve weight loss goals, focus on your diet and incorporate exercise.
Since spring is time for spring cleaning, a detoxing cleanse may be an option. Cleanses are safe and effective when done correctly and offer a jumpstart to a cleaner internal system, a healthier way of life, and weight loss. Most cleanses are recommended for 3-7 days, include lots of fiber and protein, and encourage the consumption of water and unsweetened green tea. (You don’t have to get the fancy, ten-dollars-per-bottle juices and water…unless that, of course, tickles your fancy.
Try a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar (ACV) – I use Bragg’s Unrefined ACV – in the morning and at night followed by a glass of water or water infused with lemon juice and cucumber slices for a cheaper, but highly effective detox. I’m done with my cleanse, and I still do these every day). After your cleanse ends, have a plan of action. For instance, to achieve my improved my health, I created a plan to consume more protein, vegetables, and water; to minimize carbohydrates; and to exercise for at least 45 minutes per day at least three days per week.
To tailor your diet, plan your meals for a week. I use an Excel spreadsheet: fill it in on Friday or Saturday, grocery shop on Saturday, and cook on Sunday for the entire week. Well, I cook on Sunday for about four days. My food always runs out on Thursday! Exercise reminders come through an app on my phone like RunKeeper (click here for our favorite fitness apps). Set goals in the app like “work out three times a week,” and it reminds me with a notification set for a time that I specify. I don’t always take heed to the notification, but… it’s there.
Last, put forth a consistent effort. (You’re going to fall off the wagon every once in a while. We all do. The point is, to get up, adjust, and keep striving.) You don’t have to jump into “spring cleaning” full-steam in order to see results and accomplish the goal you have set. Small steps with consistent effort get the most, long-lasting results and help you establish habits that lead to concrete lifestyle changes, making you healthier – and happier – in the long run. If you can’t handle a complete overhaul of your diet, start with a three-day cleanse and then add one thing – like “Eat three servings of vegetables per day.” or “Drink four cups of water per day.” – to your current diet. If you don’t exercise at all, set a goal to exercise two days per week for 30 minutes a day.
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and a healthier version of yourself won’t be either. Take baby steps. Have SMART goals. Create a plan. Be consistent. Most of all, celebrate your triumphs, and share the joy.