Did someone say "bathing suit season"? Your first thought might be to run for cover – better yet, a cover-up. But wait: It's not too late to get fit for spring and summer. You can be ready this season, really ready. I've got some get-in-shape tips I've used for years to prepare for tournaments held in spring and summer. These strategies worked for me, and I'm sure they can do the same for you.
1. Start your day with a springtime smoothie. A fruit-blended smoothie is a cool, low-cal, warm-weather breakfast, and it's quick to fix. What I do is whir one or two of my favorite in-season fruits in a blender with juice and crushed ice. For a creamier smoothie, use nut milk or soy milk instead of juice. Low-fat milk works just as well; I just don't use it because it doesn't like me. If a smoothie sounds good to you, try this recipe: Blend 1 cup of soy milk, 1 cup of fresh or frozen organic berries, and 1 teaspoon of honey in a blender or food processor until smooth. You'll get lots of nutrition in a single glass – vitamins, fiber, protein, and calcium – for around 200 calories. Smoothies are so yummy that every time I drink one, I feel like I'm cheating.
2. Make your plate colorful. Now that spring is springing, you'll find more fruit and veggie choices in the produce aisle or farmer's market. Your best bet for health and fitness is to choose an assortment of brilliantly hued fruits and vegetables – think reds, yellows, purples, and oranges. These foods have proven to be potent fighters of aging, cancer, and heart disease, because they contain a boatload of nutrients, including antioxidants. Try to have several servings of riotously tinted vegetables every day. They're probably the best fuel you can put in your body.
3. Salad-size your meal. Speaking of legumes, I think it is smart eating to enjoy one tossed salad a day. I love greens and eat a lot of them. A few years back, I ordered a salad that supposedly contained 14 different types of lettuce. Curiosity got the best of me, so I counted the leaves in the salad. I think I found 12 kinds. You certainly don't have to make salads with that much variety, but do try to include a mixture of greens – for example, romaine, spinach, and maybe some radicchio. Make a meal out of your leafy bouquet by topping it with garbanzo beans, low-fat cheese, tuna, or grilled chicken.
4. Enjoy some mono fats. If your waistline grew over the winter, I've got a diet secret for you: Research is showing that monounsaturated fats help keep your tummy trim. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, olives, canola oil, peanut oil, flaxseed oil, avocados, and most nuts – including almonds, cashews, pecans, pistachios, and peanuts, and peanut butter. These fats work by positively influencing hormones so that fat doesn't accumulate around your middle.When including monounsaturated oils and nut butters in your diet, use no more than one or two tablespoons a day. These foods are high in calories, and you don't want to get too much of a good thing.