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Spring Into Shape In Seven Fun Steps

Spring Into Shape In Seven Fun Steps

Ah, spring. Even if your doorstep is still under a foot of snow, more pleasant weather is on the way and there’s no better time to spring into shape and adopt a new, active lifestyle.

It doesn’t really matter where you live, what your age is, or whether you’re single and uncommitted or married with kids, most – if not all – of these tips are achievable for everyone. Just think how much better you could feel by the time summer rolls around if you’ve found the courage to jump into completely different pursuits that will lead to a healthier, happier life.

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1. Find Fitness That’s Fun

Bored with your current exercise routine? Can’t find enough time, or perhaps motivation, to get in shape? Don’t work out at all? The solution could be trying something completely different, from boxercise or military-style fitness classes to hot yoga, aqua-fitness or even ping pong. Is there a new fitness activity you could try with your partner or children, such as learning to sail as a family? Or perhaps finding a running club or getting a friend to join you in training for a long-distance biking event? The more people you rope in, the better your chances of sticking with an exercise regime you actually enjoy.

2. Try A New Hobby

Sure, you could take up tennis, return to a childhood love of dance or join a team sport, but hobbies don’t have to involve physical fitness to benefit your health. The mental stimulation of taking a writing class, learning a new skill such as needlework or even just doing a daily crossword puzzle could improve your cognitive agility and generally boost your mood. The social benefits of interacting with new people also shouldn’t be overlooked, whether you do this through a workshop or volunteering with a local charity.

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3. Get A Pet

The positive effects of having a pet are well documented. If you get a dog in particular, you’ll be forced to get out and exercise even if you otherwise would find an excuse not to. Plus, pets can encourage owners in other unexpected ways: once you are responsible for feeding another creature, you realize how important a healthy diet is – for people and for pets. Caring for someone else can hold up a mirror on your behavior: pets and people should have preventative health checks and treatments, if necessary. If nothing else, dogs make an excellent, non-judgmental companion when you just need some company.

4. Walk!

Dog or no, going for a walk is the perfect tonic for anything that ails you. A walk can clear your head, focus your thoughts, aid creativity and wake you up, all while burning calories as a low-impact cardiovascular workout. Walking is environmentally friendly, too, and puts you in touch with nature and the changes in the seasons, even if you never leave pavement. You might be surprised how far you can stroll once you get the hang of it. Soon you’ll be looking for new walking routes everywhere you go, and you might even encourage a friend (either the two- or four-legged variety).

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5. Get Growing

Spring is all about new starts and new life, so why not get in the vibe by planting something? Flowers or herbs in a windowsill or window box, or something more ambitious, such as a fruit tree, a pot of tomatoes or even a whole vegetable patch. Don’t worry if you’re a novice: there are countless websites to help everyone from green-fingered experts to the first-time gardener. Anyway, what’s the worst that can happen? You don’t need to make a huge investment – seeds and small plants are cheap, as is soil (if you even need to buy it) and many household items can be used as starter pots (such as egg boxes) and other supplies (freezer bags for covering seedlings on a window sill, for instance). Best case scenario, you have a wholesome new hobby that feeds you, too.

6. Investigate Your Food

Have you ever visited a farmers’ market or shop, garden center, orchard or pick-your-own fruit farm? Nothing tastes better than produce fresh from the tree or field, especially if you can find out more about how it’s been grown and if it has any particular health benefits. The grower might not always know these things, but it’s still good to talk to the folks who produce what we eat, not least because it enhances our understanding of where and how our food is made. You might also try something new or pick up recipe ideas that will help you stick to a well-balanced diet.

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7. Appreciate What’s Around You

Is there a nearby park you’re vaguely aware of but have never actually set foot in? A wildlife reserve where you or your children can go along to learn about migrating birds, bats’ feeding patterns, the importance of bees or the life cycle of amphibians? Or just a lovely lake, woods or field that’s open to the public? Spring is possibly the best time to get outdoors and explore, or rekindle a love of nature. Do a little investigating to find out what green spaces could help you rejuvenate after a long, tiresome winter.

Featured photo credit: Clemens v. Vogelsang via Flickr Creative Commons

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Last Updated on September 18, 2020

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

7 Simple Rules to Live by to Get in Shape in Two Weeks

Learning how to get in shape and set goals is important if you’re looking to live a healthier lifestyle and get closer to your goal weight. While this does require changes to your daily routine, you’ll find that you are able to look and feel better in only two weeks.

Over the years, I’ve learned a lot about what it takes to get in shape. Although anyone can cover the basics (eat right and exercise), there are some things that I could only learn through trial and error. Let’s cover some of the most important points for how to get in shape in two weeks.

1. Exercise Daily

It is far easier to make exercise a habit if it is a daily one. If you aren’t exercising at all, I recommend starting by exercising a half hour every day. When you only exercise a couple times per week, it is much easier to turn one day off into three days off, a week off, or a month off.

If you are already used to exercising, switching to three or four times a week to fit your schedule may be preferable, but it is a lot harder to maintain a workout program you don’t do every day.

Be careful to not repeat the same exercise routine each day. If you do an intense ab workout one day, try switching it up to general cardio the next. You can also squeeze in a day of light walking to break up the intensity.

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If you’re a morning person, check out these morning exercises that will start your day off right.

2. Duration Doesn’t Substitute for Intensity

Once you get into the habit of regular exercise, where do you go if you still aren’t reaching your goals? Most people will solve the problem by exercising for longer periods of time, turning forty-minute workouts into two hour stretches. Not only does this drain your time, but it doesn’t work particularly well.

One study shows that “exercising for a whole hour instead of a half does not provide any additional loss in either body weight or fat”[1].

This is great news for both your schedule and your levels of motivation. You’ll likely find it much easier to exercise for 30 minutes a day instead of an hour. In those 30 minutes, do your best to up the intensity to your appropriate edge to get the most out of the time.

3. Acknowledge Your Limits

Many people get frustrated when they plateau in their weight loss or muscle gaining goals as they’re learning how to get in shape. Everyone has an equilibrium and genetic set point where their body wants to remain. This doesn’t mean that you can’t achieve your fitness goals, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you are struggling to lose weight or put on muscle.

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Acknowledging a set point doesn’t mean giving up, but it does mean realizing the obstacles you face.

Expect to hit a plateau in your own fitness results[2]. When you expect a plateau, you can manage around it so you can continue your progress at a more realistic rate. When expectations meet reality, you can avoid dietary crashes.

4. Eat Healthy, Not Just Food That Looks Healthy

Know what you eat. Don’t fuss over minutia like whether you’re getting enough Omega 3’s or tryptophan, but be aware of the big things. Look at the foods you eat regularly and figure out whether they are healthy or not. Don’t get fooled by the deceptively healthy snacks just pretending to be good for you.

The basic nutritional advice includes:

  • Eat unprocessed foods
  • Eat more veggies
  • Use meat as a side dish, not a main course
  • Eat whole grains, not refined grains[3]

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Eat whole grains when you want to learn how to get in shape.

    5. Watch Out for Travel

    Don’t let a four-day holiday interfere with your attempts when you’re learning how to get in shape. I don’t mean that you need to follow your diet and exercise plan without any excursion, but when you are in the first few weeks, still forming habits, be careful that a week long break doesn’t terminate your progress.

    This is also true of schedule changes that leave you suddenly busy or make it difficult to exercise. Have a backup plan so you can be consistent, at least for the first month when you are forming habits.

    If travel is on your schedule and can’t be avoided, make an exercise plan before you go[4], and make sure to pack exercise clothes and an exercise mat as motivation to keep you on track.

    6. Start Slow

    Ever start an exercise plan by running ten miles and then puking your guts out? Maybe you aren’t that extreme, but burnout is common early on when learning how to get in shape. You have a lifetime to be healthy, so don’t try to go from couch potato to athletic superstar in a week.

    If you are starting a running regime, for example, run less than you can to start. Starting strength training? Work with less weight than you could theoretically lift. Increasing intensity and pushing yourself can come later when your body becomes comfortable with regular exercise.

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    7. Be Careful When Choosing a Workout Partner

    Should you have a workout partner? That depends. Workout partners can help you stay motivated and make exercising more fun. But they can also stop you from reaching your goals.

    My suggestion would be to have a workout partner, but when you start to plateau (either in physical ability, weight loss/gain, or overall health) and you haven’t reached your goals, consider mixing things up a bit.

    If you plateau, you may need to make changes to continue improving. In this case it’s important to talk to your workout partner about the changes you want to make, and if they don’t seem motivated to continue, offer a thirty day break where you both try different activities.

    I notice that guys working out together tend to match strength after a brief adjustment phase. Even if both are trying to improve, something seems to stall improvement once they reach a certain point. I found that I was able to lift as much as 30-50% more after taking a short break from my regular workout partner.

    Final Thoughts

    Learning how to get in shape in as little as two weeks sounds daunting, but if you’re motivated and have the time and energy to devote to it, it’s certainly possible.

    Find an exercise routine that works for you, eat healthy, drink lots of water, and watch as the transformation begins.

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    Featured photo credit: Alexander Redl via unsplash.com

    Reference

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