By Diana Giraldo, Reporter
A few more weeks and the Central Valley will begin to boil with the heat making us ache for the cool coastal breeze that lingers in our memories from last summer’s visit.
Which makes us think, how would we look in that bikini or in those swimming trunks?
Being healthy and fit, whether it is to lose a few extra pounds for your summer body or have a lifestyle change, can be jump started with 10 easy tips.
1. Find your motivation.
What is your goal? Are you trying to lose weight? Are you trying to uncover those muscles you’ve always wanted to see? Or are you trying to maintain the same weight and be healthier?
The type of exercises you begin to adopt will depend on your ultimate goal.
“When losing weight, more physical activity increases the number of calories your body uses for energy or ‘burns off,’” according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The burning of calories through physical activity, combined with reducing the number of calories you eat, creates a calorie deficit that results in weight loss.”
If your goal is to prevent future illness or disease, physical activity can also reduce high blood pressure, the risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer, the CDC said. Arthritis pain and associated disability, the risk for osteoporosis and falls and symptoms of depression and anxiety can also be reduced by exercise.
Keeping your motivation in mind will help you on the days that staying home seems more reasonable.
For those who need more motivation to keep exercising, buying a “thinspiration” piece of clothing that may not yet fit you can help you visualize the dream and keep you on track.
What do you usually grab first? A soda? Vitamin water? Coffee?
Cutting calories isn’t just about food. An easy way to cut extra calories is to ditch the sugary drinks and reach for herbal unsweetened-tea, infused water with fruit and vegetables or just plain water.
To ensure you don’t reach for the sugar-sweetened beverage keep a water bottle with you throughout the day. Don’t like to drink water? Make your water fun, creating your own flavored water or infused water by adding your favorite fruits.
Coffee drinks and blended fruit smoothies sound innocent enough, but the calories in some of your favorite coffee-shop or smoothie-stand items may surprise you, according to the CDC.
Instead the CDC recommends you request your drink be made with fat-free or low-fat milk instead of whole milk, order the smallest size available, forgo the extra flavoring or skip the whipped cream. Even better, said the CDC, go back to the basics, ordering plain coffee.
3. Take your taste buds on a roller coaster.
Changing your whole diet it not necessary.
You’ve heard about kale but what does it taste like? How do you cook it?
Try new foods like berries, kale, raw almonds and walnuts, avocado, flaxseeds, quinoa, tofu and tempeh. These healthy foods are jam-packed with nutritional value and by exploring their tastes and including them in your already favorite recipes you could be on the fast track to eating healthier.
4. Take it Slow.
Whether it is with food or your new exercise regimen, take is slow and make it fun.
Curiosity should creep up around every corner. It should not feel like an obligation or a fixed schedule.
If you feel like eating quinoa one day and white rice the next, hey that’s your decision.
You don’t have to give up on your favorite foods. Eat a smaller portion or eat them less often instead. Or try substituting things you like for a healthier option, like regular yogurt for Greek yogurt, which has less sugar and more protein.
Build on your exercise routine.
Start with a brisk walk. Once you feel comfortable add a few minutes of running or do lunges as you walk. As the time goes by add to your routine. It’s all about how you feel and how hard you want to push yourself.
5. Snack smart
When you’re hungry for a snack, what will you eat?
Instead of reaching for a bag of chips that will leave your mouth urging for water, try nature’s original fast food — fruit.
Have healthy options laying around. If you know you like snacking at work take some almonds, grapes and strawberries in a sandwich bag. Try dried fruit or yogurt and granola.
6. Use social media to your advantage.
Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Youtube can all be resources when looking for new recipe idea and exercises.
Follow accounts with a healthy lifestyle focus. There are hundreds of accounts that are specifically tailored to certain exercise regimens like exercising at home, at the gym or outside. Same goes for recipes. You won’t even have to look for them, they will pop up on your feed, which can even help motivate you to cook a yummy dish you just discovered.
Another fun idea can be to publicly announce 2-week or month-long health challenges, and have people keep you accountable. Your family, friends and whoever else follows you can see your progress and root you on throughout the way.
7. Be accountable for yourself.
Create a routine and stick to it. You are doing this for yourself. You are the only person who can take care of you the way YOU want to. Love yourself and show your body that you love it.
Don’t let yourself slack. Have a reward system in place. If you lose a certain amount of weight, give yourself a treat. Or have a piggy bank; every time you go to the gym put a dollar in. That way, by the time you fit into your “thinspiration” piece you can go buy more.
Give yourself positive feedback. Tell yourself, “You did great today.” If today you didn’t feel like you pushed yourself as hard say, “Tomorrow is going to be better.”
Always look for the positive in your actions. Think: tomorrow is another day. Time passes by no matter what, you might as well invest that time into something you will be proud of.
8. Tap into your adventurous side.
Have you always wanted to hike up Yosemite Falls or ride your bike through the Clovis trails? Pick up swimming this summer or shake your body to Zumba. There is no reason to buy a gym membership and not use it because it doesn’t seem fun to you.
You can run outside and use that as a form of meditation and as a stress reliever.
Try something you have always dreamed of like rock climbing. Although you may not be able to do it yet, with the right training and motivation you will conquer that rock.
9. Who is in your team?
Surround yourself with people who have the same goals as you.
Create a team with your friends, family and co-workers. Find a sport you all like to play, join a fitness class together or go running together.
You can also join a team that is already motivated and ready to sweat like the Get Fit Clovis Challenge, hosted by the Clovis Roundup.
Starting June 1, the aim of the Get Fit Clovis Challenge is to encourage people’s personal fitness goals. Pick a goal and share your progress on the Get Fit Clovis and Clovis Roundup Facebook pages.
By snapping a picture of you working out, eating a healthy meal or walking on the trails and posting on one of our social media pages, you can be eligible to win prizes at the end of the 3-month challenge.
For more details on the challenge, visit GetFitClovis.com
10. If at first you don’t succeed; try, try and try again.
There is no right or wrong way to get healthy. The bottom line is magic skinny pills or diet teas are not going to help you achieve long-term results.
If you are striving to make your body healthier, no matter what your goal is, it will take hard work and dedication. Instead of giving up, give yourself a second chance and say I will try again tomorrow.
In the end all those hours you have invested in yourself will be rewarded with a more energetic you, a healthier future and overall just feeling better.