Are you having secret thoughts, dear reader, about jumping on your bike and pedaling up the road, foraging for fresh zucchinis at your farmers market, planning the kind of outdoor adventure that makes you feel happy, healthy and sweaty at the end of the day?
Of course you are. It's spring! Many people on the path are feeling that undeniable seasonal urge to get out and grow, to open up and sprout. But where do you begin?
You can always start where you are. Consider this short list of springtime strategies. Pick one or two that call to you. If you get a busy signal, slow down and go over the list one more time. In fact, slowing down this spring — less time with technology, more focus on live-action fun — would give you a sweet taste of what your life could be all year round if you asserted your freedom to choose:
SIGN UP FOR SOMETHING NEW. Are you tired of tennis? Bored with running? Publicly humiliated by golf? Spring is the perfect time to come up with a new sport or activity to love, maybe something you've always wanted to try but felt inhibited about.
For one friend of mine, it was the tango. It happened many springs ago, but I always think of her, because taking five tango lessons in a high school gym changed her life. I saw it happen. Her inner Carmen just exploded, and she went from being sullen and contracted to being strong and sexy, from having a miserable social life to having more friends than she wants.
Life is too interesting to settle for workouts that aren't. What about aikido? Square dancing? Tai chi fly-fishing (a favorite in Santa Fe)? Now hear this: There's a sport for everyone. This spring find yours.
FIND THE TIME. Everything starts here. I'm too busy... to walk, to cook a good meal, to coach my daughter's softball team. Not having enough time is the No. 1 excuse we give ourselves for not living the lives we want. This spring, find time! Determine your priorities, and say a polite but firm no to people and projects that don't reflect them. Schedule yourself for fun stuff, the same way you do for car pool and grocery shopping. And don't spend a minute — not even five seconds — feeling guilty.
CRANK IT UP. Whatever sport you've been doing, challenge yourself to take it to a new level. If it's running, set new (but realistic) goals, try new terrain or do sprints at high-intensity intervals. If it's golf, concentrate on mastering your seven iron or getting out of the sand. If nothing thrills you, do what I wish everyone would at least try : yoga. Give yourself six months of just showing up in the presence of a great teacher. Amazing things can happen.
FOCUS ON REAL FOOD. Find those farmers markets. Grow some food. This spring, continue your shift away from old patterns of eating that make you unhealthy, unhappy and overweight. Stop dieting-as-a-verb. Instead, use your smarts to come up with a new way of eating that focuses on tasty real food. Do a springtime kitchen makeover, and replace the processed food, junk food and toxic snack food with the healthier choices you know are out there. Admit you've always wanted to try a sea buckthorn and raspberry smoothie with chia seeds.
LET NATURE NURTURE. Knowing that spring is the obvious time for new beginnings and new habits is one thing. Experiencing it is another. This week, take a day, or an hour, and tune into seasonal change. Spend some quiet time in a green and blossoming space. Ready to sign up for adult soccer camp? Finally willing to trade in your Twitter time for a 20-minute walk? If you have an aha! experience, write it down and let that be the start of a springtime journal (a great tool for keeping you focused).
When you tap into the nature of seasonal change, you tap into something bigger than yourself. That helps you make lifestyle changes that last a lifetime — or at least four months.
ENERGY EXPRESS-O! TEND YOUR OWN GARDEN
"Making contact with your creative self is vital to spring harmony. Who are you inside? ... You are continually creating your life; be aware of this, and dance and play the tune that you are!" — Elson M. Haas
Marilynn Preston — healthy lifestyle expert, well being coach and Emmy-winning producer — is the creator of Energy Express, America's longest-running syndicated fitness column. She has a website, marilynnpreston.com, and welcomes reader questions, which can be sent to [email protected] To find out more about Preston and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.