As we head into the spring weather, it is often a time for people to become reacquainted with ‘good habits’ and ‘new goals’. The blooms are out, the sun is shining, the gardens are beaming and all the animals are - well… let’s say ‘twitterpated’. Its also time when a lot of us start to emerge from our winter heads, cast off our woollies and especially in the sub tropical climate of Sydney, begin to get the summer wardrobe back out.
The celtic calender lists August/September as the time for ‘arbitration’ (being neutral in two points of an argument – the final step of grieving) where we begin to weigh up the pros and cons of our mind. It’s a time for reassessing. Where am I at? Am I happy? Is this what I really want? Am I clocking the things in life that bring me pleasure and contentment?
It is also the time just prior to the ‘vernal equinox’ that signifies the changing of days being longer than nights. In a similar way, I believe the ‘Sydney vibe’ is to get ready for the warmer weather and the onset of summery days and cool nights and an unshackling of the winter dormancy that takes a hold of the city.
So what does this mean for us? It means most of us are contemplating a new outlook or shift in our perspective. It’s a new invigoration of energy as the sun starts to warm us, the days begin to lengthen, the scent of regeneration is in the air (along with the plane trees and the pollens) and we start to shake off the winter foibles and nights on the couch eating comfort food. We are heading back into our vibrant, active, outdoor ways and cleaning out the cobwebs. Colour makes a return to the design palette and we all are just that little bit bouncy as we walk to work instead of jumping on a rain sodden bus/train with stuffy overcoats and umbrellas wreaking of underuse.
So you’re pumped, motivated, put down your targets for spring, got the yoga mat, the sleeveless tops, the cardio-dominated fitness plan and the potting mixture and shovel ready for the garden. And when you’re standing there ready to tackle all this, you realise that this is an awful lot of work to get through before you even begin to commit to a regular routine.
”There are few rites of spring more satisfying than the annual clean. For many people, however, the pleasure comes only after the work is finished”
So this can be a tough time where motivation and regularity is needed. So in true celtic tradition of being ‘arbitrary’ with yourself, now is the time to introduce some easier goals and minor strategies to help you achieve the larger pieces. Separating the big stones from the smaller pebbles. Break down the big tasks into smaller, achievable and less all encompassing parts and bring simplicity to your daily life.
This is especially relevant to the ‘Spring Clean’ of the active kind. This is often where we have to be mindful of that dreaded return into activity and thinking that all those times when we chose the Netflix session instead of the running session in the cold winter nights, now renders us slightly more incapable than we thought we were to complete some basic exercise regularity. It’s when we envy those motivated individuals who were actually sticking to their winter regime and still clocking the bike-roller session, the indoor swimming plan, the hot yoga 10 week challenge. For those of us mere mortals, we now have our ‘winter coat’ to strip down and try to get the body moving again before looking at the Running Festival calendar or that Tri-athlon in Airlie Beach or Sunshine Coast that’s coming awfully close to the beginning of September.
One of the mistakes of committing to energetic injection in spring is the loss of regularity in the face of too big a task. Make sure you start by introducing yourself to some quiet regular exercise. Don’t hit the gym hard yet if you’ve been lying on the floor on the sheepskin rug in front of the fire for the last 2 months in a resplendent pose of ice-cream laden abandon. You need to start ‘gently’. Aim for 2-3 days of regular, easy ‘re-introductory’ sessions for the first 2-3 weeks.
Make it easy on your body. Your body hasn’t been twisting and rotating and moving, so to expect it to all of a sudden bounce about and lift 100kg is not the way forward. You need composite controlled movements and easier sessions of shorter duration to introduce the body into exercise again. But these sessions need to be ‘regular’ to get the benefit of regular movement going again so that you can then begin to push a little bit more.
“Florals? For spring? Ground breaking.”
Miranda Priestly – Devil Wears Prada
Making changes in your ‘aural sphere’ can be a fun hippy-esque way to bring some spring brightness into play. Colour therapy has as much to do with getting motivated as a salary bonus package or promise of a holiday. Use colour in your daily life to invigorate yourself. Far from this being just for ladies to go out and buy a string of new summery flowing dresses with floral prints, it can also be in your selection of the daily tie gentleman. Ditch the red power tie (no-one is really impressed by that in a meeting really-especially your female board members) and go for some fun and colour in your selection. I’m not saying Ken Done should make a comeback but have some fun with your colour. Go out and buy some new shirts, light shades, or get a new pot of Dulux from Bunnings and take to the garage. Anything that has you investing in some colour or something that when you look at it makes you smile and feel light is valuable as you begin to see more of the sun and less of the grey in spring.
Beware the Garden Gnome call. We’ve all been there. The sunshine starts to beam and you look at the dwindling collection ofplants in the front garden and think, hmmm, really should do something about that. Gardening in spring is fantastic. A lot of clients do it and it’s great for them. My 79yo Mum loves it. She gets out there, shovelling dirt and pushing herbs around and shifting pots (which secretly I am happy about as she is at least moving). But the danger is that you can believe that you can do 8 hours of yard work on a sunny Sunday and not suffer from it later. A lot of people end up in the clinic after a weekend such as this. It’s great to get the green thumb out but beware the dormant Don Burke. A happy planter he does not make when he is bent over and unable to straighten!
So in brief the checklist for Spring looks a little like this -
· Get a plan in place. Commit to some outdoor activity with small amounts of days and regular sessions throughout the week whilst ensuring good amounts of meditative exercise along with active and energetic training sessions.
· Change your diet – spring diets become more about vegetables and maintaining nutrient content of your food. It’s all about GREENS and you want lighter cooking methods to retain nutrition and crispness of the food. Wok cooking, poached, steamed dishes.
· Ease into exercise – nothing too much too quick, especially if you’ve been dormant. 2-3 days of introductory exercise session for 2-3 weeks. You’ll be much more inclined to adhere to that rather than flipping tractor tyres 4 days a week.
· Use something pleasurable as your springboard – colour therapy, make it fun, create something artistic to remind you of the season.
It’s all about keeping the momentum that springs up at this time to move you onward into summer and that glorious time when public holidays once again make an appearance and you contemplate the beach house and the road trip to the south coast. Start planning now and make it easy so that before you know it, you’ll have created new habits that last you right through til Christmas! Yes – it’s not that far away