March always seems like the endless month to me. It’s still the dead of winter, but it feels like it’s time for spring, or whatever they call it in Wyoming. Then there’s the fact that’s it’s almost 5 weeks long, which isn’t kind to my paycheck or my sanity. Once April comes, I can at least pretend that spring is about to arrive. I know it’s happening in other places, and that brings some consolation. By this point many New Year’s Resolutions have fallen by the way side, and the motivation that summer swimsuits bring hasn’t quite reached those of us in Wyoming.
If you’re someone who lives for March Madness, kindly disregard my objection for March and read on anyway.
So what to do with March? Well, I’ve decided it doesn’t have to be a wasted month for me or for anyone else. So I’ve come up with a way to tackle March and not let it get the best of any of us.
I want to challenge you to change ONE thing each week in March. Just ONE, I’m not asking for a complete lifestyle overhaul, just one little thing. I believe that making just one good change in your life can have great implications for your health, fitness, and overall well-being.
1. Go to bed one hour earlier than you usually do. Adults need 7–9 hours of sleep per night. The National Sleep Foundation reports that 40% of Americans get less than 7 hours. A lack of sleep has been linked to weight gain, depression, heart problems, and even cancer to name a few. So give a toast to your health, and shut the lights out an hour earlier for a week.
2. Cut out sugar. Sugar no longer just comes in those white paper bags next to the flour. Sugar is in almost every product in the grocery store, save the produce section. Read the labels. Anything ending in “ose” is a sugar: dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose. There are also the well known ones, corn syrup or brown sugar as well as the hidden ones, Maltodextrin, Brown Rice Syrup, Sorbitol, Cane-Juice, Barley Malt, and Mannitol to name a few. Sugar provides absolutely no nutritional benefit to your body. It is just empty calories, which actually means excess calories. I don’t care if its “natural” or “organic”; sugar is sugar. Enough said. Your body doesn’t pardon the calories in “natural sugar”. It doesn’t know the difference. Studies have shown that our bodies can actually become addicted to sugar, and we tend to crave more and more of it. So, I dare you to try avoiding it for week. Stick to fresh unprocessed foods. Avoid foods with more than 5 ingredients. Avoid foods with ingredient lists that contain anything unfamiliar or unpronounceable. If it sounds like it came from a lab, it probably did.
3. Move more. If you don’t normally exercise, try walking for 30 minutes 5 days this week. If you already exercise, amp it up. If you typically walk, run. If you lift weights try doing super sets. Super sets are where you perform two exercises back to back without any rest in between. They are different from normal sets where you take a rest between each set. Try grouping sets so you target opposing muscle groups. Such as the triceps and biceps, hamstrings and quads, and chest and back. Any one of those things will increase your health and fitness.
4. Drink water instead of pop or juice. Pop and juice are loaded with sugar, those empty, excess calories I mentioned earlier. If you simply cut out one bottle of pop and 1 glass of juice a day, you could lose 1 lb. a week without making any other changes. In one year that would add up to 52 lbs. – I rest my case!
5. Cook at home instead of eating out. Try cooking all your meals at home instead of going to the drive through or eating out. You only have to try it for 1 week. You’ll have to plan ahead some; pack your lunch, thaw the chicken, etc… But it’s worth it. Unless you have a commercial sized deep fat fryer in your kitchen, I promise you and your entire family will eat healthier. You’ll eat less too. The mindless eating that happens when you are eating on-the-go is a sure way to overeat. Not to mention the added benefits of spending less money, eating more quality food, and possibly getting to spend more time with your family. The only down side…the dishes…but get over it, consider it exercise, there goes a few more calories.
So, are you up for it? Just pick one and try it for a week. If you come to day 7 and realize you’re still alive, breathing, and maybe even feeling better, pick another one for week 2. You get the idea. You March Madness Maniacs go ahead and participate as well, it’ll give you one more reason to feel good about March. Here’s to a GREAT MARCH!
* From: My column "The Audrey Ross Way" in the Kemmerer Gazette - 3/3/11