Birds are singing, flowers are blooming and days are getting longer. Let the arrival of spring motivate you to break out and renew yourself.
It’s actually spring —not the dreaded January resolution to start another diet — that provides your best shot at making the life changes necessary to lose weight. Think about it. Spring is a time of rebirth: the trees are budding; caterpillars are becoming butterflies; it’s getting warmer; there’s more energy in the air; and you have a sense of renewal — all the same reasons people get the urge to do their spring cleaning.
It’s when we get inspired to embark on new beginnings.
Here are a few suggestions, tips, revelations and diet-busting pitfalls to be aware of in this season of renewal.
79 The number of calories in 1 cup of sliced apricots, plus 3 grams of fiber
1. Eat apricots: Apricots are loaded with vitamin A — 1 cup has about 3,178 IU, or 64 percent of your daily recommended value. Vitamin A converts to the antioxidant beta carotene, which is involved in the growth and repair of skin tissue and may protect against sun damage.
Additionally, it is said to have anti-cancer effects and to enhance immune system function. Apricots are also packed with vitamin C (27 percent of the daily recommended value), plus potassium, iron, copper and the antioxidant lycopene. And 1 cup of sliced apricots, about four apricots, has only 79 calories plus 3 grams of fiber.
2. Plan ahead: I’m a big believer in doing some advance planning to gain control of your weight. Set yourself up to know exactly what you’re going to do to make your diet a success. Read an article at DietDetective.com to help you start making a plan.
3. Spring clean your life and lose weight: Clutter in your house matters. While there haven’t been any studies I know of linking clutter to obesity, I do know that being disorganized doesn’t help.
Think about the factors that facilitate weight loss: increased physical activity, eating healthier foods, good sleeping habits and a balanced emotional life — all related to an organized, clutter-free life. Read more about this idea at DietDetective.com.
A study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who live in the suburbs — and therefore drive everywhere — weigh 6.3 pounds more than urbanites who are able to walk more in dense cities.
4. Walk more: There is more daylight, so all you non-morning people out there have no excuse at the end of the day. As I explain on my website, a study published in the American Journal of Public Health found that people who live in the suburbs — and therefore drive everywhere — weigh 6.3 pounds more than urbanites who are able to walk more in dense cities.
In fact, Manhattan, the heart of New York City, has one of the lowest obesity rates in the country, and many experts attribute this to the fact that so many of its residents walk regularly. There is nothing like going for a nice walk in the spring.
5. Go biking: It builds muscle, particularly in your quads, glutes, hamstrings and calves. You can control the level of your workout by deciding how fast to pedal on city streets, suburban roads or scenic trails.
Biking is also a convenient, inexpensive way to get around town. Parking is always simple, and you can get some exercise while you’re running errands. It’s a great way to enjoy the outdoors and do some sightseeing. It helps the environment.
And now Google has added a feature that allows you to map your bike route. The mapping feature helps find the most efficient path, identifies bike lanes and can help you avoid big hills.
6. Watch Passover eating: Easter is not the only holiday with high-calorie food. Just one coconut macaroon has about 70 calories. Beef brisket, which is often served at Passover seders, can have 430-470 calories for about 6 ounces. Believe it or not, matzo is not too bad — 110 calories for one piece — and a 2.5-ounce piece of gefilte fish is 90 calories.
Egg sales are highest in the spring.
7. Eat more egg (whites): Eggs are the perfect symbol for “new life.” In fact, egg sales are highest in the spring. In that spirit, there are many fast, easy, healthy meals you can make with eggs. In particular, egg-white omelets with lots of veggies make some of the healthiest breakfasts.
Chop up anything you like: peppers, mushrooms, onions, broccoli, tomatoes, and toss them in the center of the omelet. Then fold the eggs over the veggies and cook briefly on both sides. Get creative and try new combinations to keep things interesting. For instance, try mixing salsa and avocado into your eggs for a change.
Remember, as you add low-cal veggies, you increase the density and amount of food without noticeably adding calories. Read my “Everything Guide to Eggs” at DietDetective.com.
Charles Platkin is a nutrition and public health advocate and founder of DietDetective.com.