I absolutely love this time of year—seeing the trees bud; watching the grass turn green; enjoying the extended daylight; and the happier mood in people. For me, it means I can switch from the treadmill (lovingly coined the ‘dreadmill’ by many of my runner friends) to outdoor running, which is always a welcomed change!
Winter is tough in Wisconsin between the cold, snow and dark and it’s easy to get into a funk that is hard to break away from. It’s harder to exercise, and we tend to gravitate to the ‘comfort’ food items that are so delicious, but maybe on the ‘not so healthy’ side of the spectrum. With summer fast-approaching, now is the time to break out of the winter rut and get back on track.
Spring and summer are, in my opinion, the BEST eating seasons with all of the fresh produce available through gardens, farmers markets and the grocery store. There’s almost no excuse for not healthy eating with all of the variety and availability of fruits and vegetables that surround the summer months.
The opportunities are plentiful with finding fresh produce during the spring and summer months. It seems almost every community offers a farmers market during the week, and many will offer larger ones on the weekends. My two favorites are the ones on Saturday mornings in Madison and Waukesha, and I’m sure there are many others that offer the same quality and quantity of produce/meat/cheese throughout the area. The markets are an easy way to get fresh, from-the-farm products that is usually much cheaper than the grocery stores. Plus, if I know a product tastes amazing, I’m a lot more likely to indulge in it!
Another opportunity during the spring and summer months is to invest in a garden or a CSA, which will also provide fresh fruit and vegetables—one just promises less weeding! My parents always plant a big garden, and it’s part of our “Sunday Supper” ritual to help with the planting/weeding/picking etc., but it is SO worth it when we get the delicious crop. During the summer, I usually have no problem finding friends who were begging me to take produce off their hands. Win, win!
CSAs are great because the food comes to you, and you know you are supporting a local farmer/cause. And hey, no spending time getting dirty in the garden!
Spring and summer have tons of opportunities to be active, and engage in physical activity. This can be as simple as getting outside and enjoying the fresh air on a walk, riding your bike or going for a swim. It can get mundane doing the same thing indoors during the cold months, and I know I personally start to feel trapped when all I want to do is get outside and play!
If you want something a bit more ‘ramped up’ from walking or biking, there are many outdoors activities for all levels.
Runner, joggers, and walkers will be inundated with race opportunities at all distances this time of year, and usually all of the proceeds go towards a worthy cause. You don’t have to be a die-hard runner or training for the Olympics to participate, but it’s a cool way to get outside, exercise and feel like you’re helping others. The manfriend and I are signed up for a few this summer, and I cannot think of a better way to hang out than to be outdoors, exercising, away from work and earning a t-shirt. Ok, and maybe the beer afterwards.
The local pools and lakes will be opening soon, and that means water sports will be available--if that is your forte. Lap swimming and water aerobics are much nicer when you know your hair won’t freeze as you walk outdoors, and you may be lucky enough to work on your tan if you’re outdoors while swimming. Water activities are much easier on the joints, and if you’re opposed to sweating—this is your gig!
Many Park and Recs and local gyms/ organizations will offer outdoor classes and activities such as boot camp, sand volleyball, group bike rides, and even kayaking trips. Depending what your interest level is, there are plenty of opportunities out there! You may need to keep an open mind and be willing to try something new, but you just may find something that is a new-found passion and an activity that you can do over and over again!
I also think it’s easier to get motivated if you have a friend or family member/significant other join you. That way, you can laugh and have fun together while getting exercising. It helps with the accountability factor, but also keeps it fresh and something you both or your group can share together. I have the same group of my closest friends who have taken classes on Wednesday evenings with me for the last 2 years, and I truly look forward to the time we get to spend together. Laughing, smiling, and staying healthy!
Spring and summer are the best. I went for a jog yesterday on the Fort Atkinson bike path, and I kid you not, I saw 50 people out and about during the few minutes that I was out running. It made me SO happy to see the moms and dads, kids, pets and family members enjoying the outdoors and having fun! Exercise doesn’t have to be this huge chore, especially in the warmer months, but rather using a bit of creativity and just moving outdoors will almost guarantee feeling better and a better outlook on your health.
Until next time!