This is the time of year when your thoughts turn to cleaning, which usually means organising cluttered cupboards. However, maybe it’s time to do the same with your body. After an unseasonably long winter of eating heavy comfort foods and layering clothing to cover yourself up, take advantage of the change of season to lighten your load and clear away the body’s cobwebs.
Eating for a lighter you
During the winter months you are less active due to the shorter days, and then there’s the festive season that's filled with eating rich food and more than usual drinking. Look out though if that holiday weight gain is still hanging around six months later! It’s time to get serious. The days are longer and the brighter, warmer weather should inspire you to eat lighter. With the wonderful selection of vegetables and fruits in the Riviera markets you are spoiled for choice (so no excuses).
Here are some suggestions to help get you motivated:
Start your day with a cup of hot water and lemon to alkalise your body. If your body is too acidic it becomes a breeding ground for sickness and disease.
Drink more water throughout the day to flush toxins from your body but also to prevent dehydration with the higher temperatures.
Vary your salad ingredients regularly to ensure that you’re getting a great variety of vitamins and nutrients.
Switch your winter soup for a summer smoothie, using seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables.
Eat more fresh, organic whole foods and grains with less processed food on your plate. Organic produce limits the use of synthetic materials (ie pesticides) during production, and certified organic produce is marked with a green AB symbol (look for it at the supermarket). At your local market chat with the stall owner, who may sell organic even if there's no AB sign. Organic produce is more expensive but I tend to buy bio if the fruit or veg has a thin skin, like carrots or apples, as pesticides more easily soak into the interior.
Seeds contain an amazing amount of nutritional value for their size. Eat as a snack or add to salads or smoothie: sunflower (tournesol), pumpkin (potiron), flax (lin), chia.
Talk to a qualified nutritionist to help guide you or attend a nutrition workshop and meet like-minded people.
Get a move on
As you start to remove layers of heavy clothing you feel more exposed. In order to ensure you can bare your body with confidence start to rev up your exercise routine now to get your body ready for the beach.
Plan your weekly exercise in advance.
Ensure that you’re getting variety in your exercise regime to build a balanced and toned body. That means cardio, strength and yoga (see below).
Incorporate more movement into your day: take the stairs, walk rather than drive to the café, add lunges while cleaning the floor or squats while pushing your child on the swing.
Seek direction from a professional. Investing in group classes or a personal trainer to help plan a routine and make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly is money well spent.
Same old, same old ... not!
In life it’s easy to get stuck in a rut, sometimes doing the same ol' thing is just more comfortable. This is all about new beginnings, so try something different and challenging to get your juices flowing.
I used to think that if I wasn’t sweating bullets then I wasn’t truly benefitting from my work out; the idea of relaxing in a yoga class was a cop out. However, when I eventually tried a yoga class several years ago, I discovered how truly challenging it was.
It was nothing for me to go for a run, a swim or a bike ride and just grind it out but when I got to the mat, I learned that I couldn’t just power through yoga as I did in every other sport. I had to listen to my body, to use my “core” (the powerhouse of the body, comprising of the muscles from the shoulders to the hips). This was so foreign to me: being quite strong I could muscle my way through most sports and yet I found in yoga that you can’t balance an inversion without learning to keep the body subtle. There’s no clenching the jaw, or forced breath, it’s about being in tune with your body.
I believe that we often shy away from the one thing we need most to push our limits. So for those of you out there who pound the pavement week in, week out, give your body a break and a challenge by trying a yoga class (on the beach, if that’s more of an incentive; see www.fithub.net for details). If the opposite is true and you like to take it easy in a slow-paced relaxation class, go for a hike or try a dance or cardio/strength class to mix it up. If you’re like me and your mind races constantly, try to slow it down by practicing meditation, this is certainly something I need to work on!
Start fresh from today: switch it up, put aside any preconceived notions and just give it a try. You might just surprise yourself. Bon courage!
I like to make a smoothie with apple, carrot, beetroot, ginger and a little water to get the consistency I want. It's also a great way to sneak healthy food into your children's diet and helps use up ripe fruit and veg!