Its spring, time for sunshine and renewal after a long New England Winter. It’s the time of year we start thinking about changing up our diets from the comfort food we oh so enjoyed all winter, to lighter, fresher, greener fare. Spring is a natural time of awakening following the winter months, and with everything in bloom, it is the perfect motivation to take your workouts outside.
It is a time to focus on the body parts that women might feel most self-conscious revealing in the warmer weather: arms and legs. So here are some tank top and shorts exercises you can do outdoors with a sturdy and flat park bench, picnic table or chair. It is also a great time to talk about seasonal eating and how it can help us enjoy those lighter, greener, fresher foods. Seasonal eating is something we hear about more and more these days. Here are a few ways you can easily incorporate these helpful dietary tricks and exercise tips into your lives this spring.
What is seasonal eating?
They are foods harvested at their peak of freshness in your local area, these foods are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. We are lucky that we can get mostly any fruit or veggie we want year round but many of these foods are harvested before their ready and shipped across the country. Our local foods are harvested the day before or the morning that they are sold making them fresher and tastier.
How do I know which fruits and vegetables are in season?
The best way to do this is to check out your local farmer’s markets and farm stands. It will vary depending on which part of the country you live in. Talk to the farmers, ask them what’s going to be harvested over the next few weeks or what crops look good this year. They are always happy to talk to you about what they grow or introduce you to something new.
What is the easiest way to start eating seasonally?
The easiest way to enjoy seasonal food is to start with updating your salads with different leafy greens such as kale, pea shoots and arugula perfect springtime greens. You can also add delicious baby carrots, snap peas, fresh herbs and peppery radishes. You can try some seasonal fare at restaurants that have dishes inspired by local ingredients.
Springtime Lemon Vinaigrette
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp. lemon zest
2 tbs. lemon juice
Salt and Pepper to taste
In a bowl whisk together the first 3 ingredients until well combined. Taste before seasoning with salt and pepper. Lightly drizzle over your favorite salad or veggies.
Think of seasonal eating as a way to get great healthy tasting food at a great price. Seasonal food is cheaper than off season food and tastes better. By purchasing local seasonal food you are helping support local farmers and saving a little money in the process. What could be better than that!!
TRICEP DIPS: A great move that targets the backs of the arms which are the triceps muscles, as well as the shoulders, chest and core.
Position your hands shoulder-width apart on a secure bench or stable chair. Knuckles are facing outward.
Keep your legs extended in front of you, and slide your butt off the front of the bench.
Straighten your arms, keeping a little bend in your elbows, and slowly bend your elbows to lower your body toward the floor until your elbows are at about a 90-degree angle.
Press down into the bench to straighten your elbows, returning yourself back to the starting position.
TIPS: Keep your shoulders down being careful not to shrug into your ears, keep your back straight, and remember that the further away your legs are, the more difficult the move.
BENCH PUSH-UPS: Push-ups are an incredible total body move that specifically target the chest, shoulders, triceps and core muscles. You can do them either from a kneeling position or from up on your toes.
Face the bench and position hands shoulder-width apart directly below your shoulders.
Tighten through your core, and lower yourself down as low as you can go comfortably and with good form.
Push back up to return to start.
TIPS: Lead with your chest not your head, envision a tennis ball between your chin and your chest to keep your head in a good position. Keep your belly button pulled in tightly.
HOVER SQUATS: Squats are a great way to engage your entire lower body, and hover squats are an example of an isometric contraction-one where the muscle length doesn’t change. By holding yourself in a squat position you are strengthening through your entire lower body, but with less stress on your joints.
Stand with your back facing a bench or chair-use it as a frame of reference.
Squeeze your belly button, keep your chest lifted, and push your hips back as though you are about to sit.
From this position bend your knees to lower yourself only until you feel a point of engagement.
Hold this position, squeezing and breathing for an 8 count.
Slowly stand back up, being careful not to lock your knees.
TIGHTROPE WALK: Take a trip down memory lane to days of balance walking on the curb! Balance is something that we lose as we age, and holding ourselves up high to maintain balance also conveys mental confidence!
Find a balance beam (in the park) or a curb, and walk as straight and tall as possible, keeping your gaze forward, chest and head lifted, and core tight.
As with any exercise, stop immediately if you feel any pain or if you feel you cannot maintain good form.
Get outside get moving and get eating this spring!!!
Written with: Michelle Crean, Empowerment