Jumpstart Your Summer

Beginning on Monday, because Monday is the only day to begin anything according to Mr. Balancing Act, I am embarking on a Biggest Loser Ranch at Home experience. (Disclaimer: This is not affiliated in any way whatsoever with the ACTUAL Biggest Loser Ranch and television program. This program is my own invention.) My goal: to spend two full weeks preparing for summer with healthy, whole food meals and LOTS of fitness challenges. Maybe you'd care to join me?

Let's start by defining your goals for this two-week period. Do you need to lose some weight in order to get your body ready for summer? Maybe you'd like to increase your aerobic capacity and endurance? Maybe you want to tighten up some of those jiggly areas like the upper arms or outer thighs? Or perhaps you want increased strength? Less stress? Better sleep? All of these goals can be woven into our two-week program.

Step One: Before Monday rolls around, we need to do some purging. Not the binge-and-purge kind, but the cleaning-out-the-cupboards kind. Make room in your fridge for lots of fresh produce and healthy proteins. Find someone (NOT you!) to eat all those sugary treats and junk foods. Wrap up a care package for your local homeless shelter or senior center. See if you can eliminate all the boxed, bagged, prepared, and packaged foods such as cereals, baked goods, sodas, juices, mixes, and snack foods. Keep everything that is a whole food, such as almonds and other nuts and seeds, veggies, fruits, whole grains (not baked goods, though!) and all types of proteins, including eggs, meats, fish, and dairy. You might want to lock up your booze for these two weeks to further reduce the consumption of empty calories. (Okay, I know I just lost most of you!)

Step Two: Make a plan. What kinds of activities can you add to your schedule which will move you closer to your goals? If you have to work, you can still fit in some extra fitness time around your current schedule. If you already have a fitness routine, keep it! Don't ditch your walk with the dog or your favorite Zumba class. Instead, try to add on to it. We are using these two weeks to step things up, to kick your routine into high gear. If you normally walk a mile each morning, try speeding up your walk and doubling your mileage. Or try a walk-run combination where you walk for a minute then run for a minute. Or vary your route to include more hills, stairs, or steep sections for more intensity. Then add ANOTHER workout at the end of the day. Maybe yoga, Pilates, swimming, or Tai Chi? If you tend to have trouble sleeping, choose a more calming option for your evening workout. You will still get the benefits of strengthening and stretching your muscles, but at a slower pace. If you can't get to a class or a gym, get to the library and borrow some workout DVD's. NO EXCUSES! Anyone can do this.

Step Three: Convince a friend, family member, neighbor, or co-worker to join you in this endeavor. You will be more likely to stick with your plan if you have some support. And getting fitter is more fun with company!

You have a couple of days to set up your environment and your fitness plan. I hope you will share your goals, plans, and experiences along the way with all of us. Let's do this together!