6 Spa Tips for Spring Fitness
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6 Spa Tips for Spring Fitness

Get in shape with these fitness ideas from spa experts around the country.

Spa Diet Tips

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Nothing says rejuvenation like a spa getaway. Imagine surrendering your aches and pains to the hands of a massage therapist, spending afternoons doing Downward Dog, and passing mealtimes munching on chef-prepared organic greens and smoothies.

But let's be realistic: Many of us just won't have the vacation time or the resources to slip away this spring. That's why we've brought the spa home, asking experts from some of the nation's top spots to divulge what to eat and how to work it so your body is bikini-ready by summer. Just sit back, read, and say "aah."

What You Need to Know About Nutrition Transitioning from winter to spring occurs across many planes: the snow thaws and the mercury rises; wool sweaters go into storage and the cotton knits make their debut; and our bodies crave different foods. Here are some simple ways to lose those extra pounds you may have packed on over winter's long, dark days.

  • Soup's On: Soups are a good way to fill up without filling out. "Studies have shown that soups can be helpful with weight control," says Lori Reamer, RD, director of nutrition at Canyon Ranch in the Berkshires. "There's a satiety and a sensual experience that comes from the texture, so people don't go seeking other food." And what better way to transition from your favorite winter comfort foods than to switch out hot soups for their cold cousins? In the spring, Canyon Ranch offers chilled soups like gazpacho and those made from peaches and pineapple and coconut. What's more, soup is easy to prepare, store, and take along with you.

 

3 More Diet Tips

  • Happy Hour at the Salad Bar: Fruits and veggies are an important part of anyone's diet and weight-loss regimen. Canyon Ranch consistently offers a salad bar, taking advantage of locally grown organic produce that is in season (think spinach, broccoli, and peppers in the spring). To keep an eye on the calories, Reamer recommends reaching for more veggies than fruits when you strive for your eight to 10 servings of produce a day. "Fruits have a higher carbohydrate count," says Reamer, which equates to more calories. (Shoot to get your fruits in the morning, so you have the day to burn off the calories.) A tip from Reamer for "revitalizing" interest in a salad: Chop it finely (like coleslaw), add a lean source of protein (like shrimp or chicken), and serve in a whole grain tortilla or wrap. High-protein, high-carbohydrate shakes will start your day off right!
  • Pick Your Protein and Carbs with Care: At breakfast, low-fat egg-white omelets, made chock-full of veggies and with a little feta or Parmesan, are a mainstay at Canyon Ranch; a slice of whole grain toast is the perfect complement. For lunch and dinner, hormone- and pesticide-free chicken and wild salmon often grace the menu, along with healthy carbs like buckwheat pasta, brown basmati rice, and millet. And don't forget about the beans and legumes, which can make up delicious hummus, cold bean salads, and edamame-based dishes.
  • Practice Conscious Eating: "To elevate the dining experience, eat more slowly, play soft music, and dim the lighting," says Reamer. When you take your time to eat and really focus on enjoying each bite, you tend to eat less and you'll be satisfied with less, she says. Reinstate the family dinner (at least a couple of nights a week), and don't turn on the TV while you're eating -- make it mealtime.

Spa-Inspired Workouts

Over the winter, many of us become couch potatoes rather than brave the elements. Or we'll go to a controlled environment like the gym, where we run on the treadmill while watching TV. While this isn't bad, the experience can be better: "Spring is the time to get out, smell the flowers, and feel the air as it warms up," says Kent Burden, the mind/body program coordinator at the Ojai Valley Inn & Spa in Ojai, California.

 

A few pointers before you get started: Always warm-up and cool down; wear at least an SPF 15 sunscreen when you're outdoors; and hydrate before, during, and after your workout. (If you're exercising for more than an hour or in hot temps, quaff an energy-boosting beverage that's half fruit juice and half water, says Lori Reamer). Here are some spa-inspired workouts:

  • Try the Spring Combo Mind/Body Workout: "Here at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, we'll go for a hike, then stop in the middle to do yoga or tai chi," says Burden. "This workout challenges your cardiovascular system, and it addresses strength and flexibility." (And when it comes to whittling the waist, hiking and running are two very efficient calorie burners.) To boost the mind/body experience, says Burden, "Focus on everything around you, what is blooming, and the 'spring awakening' it creates in your body." Here's the plan: Hike (or do a trail run, if you're up for it) for 30 minutes. When you find a nice spot, unroll your yoga mat and practice a 10- to 15-minute sequence that integrates yoga moves such as the Upward Facing Dog, Plank Pose, and Downward Facing Dog. Then complete your hike/run by returning to where you started.
  • Go Poolside: What better way to "treat" your body than to take your workout to the water? Being in the water -- especially outdoors -- is the perfect antidote to those predictable videos you've been doing all winter, says Kim Onnen, a fitness instructor at the Heartland Spa in Gilman, Illinois. You burn plenty of calories partaking in water-based activities, plus "you benefit from the natural resistance of the water, and it's easier on your joints," says Onnen. (This makes water workouts ideal for those with arthritis.) You might swim laps at the local Y, or sign up for a water ballet class. Find something that fits your fancy and your schedule. Aim for getting 20 to 30 minutes of exercise, at least three to five days a week, says Onnen.

If you can't make it to the pool regularly, mix it up with other physical activities, such as brisk walking or cycling. The important thing is that you're moving. But if you've been inactive all winter, don't rev your workout up too soon or you'll increase your chances of injury. Especially in the beginning when you're easing into a program, 10 to 15 minutes is just fine, says Onnen.

 
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