These days, it seems like everyone is peddling health and fitness advice—your neighbor who just tried an amazing heated Pilates class that takes place on a vibrating plate; the kombucha guys at the farmers market; your sister, who just finished the latest best-selling diet book. Everyone has some piece of (primarily unsolicited) advice to offer about your lifestyle choices and well-being.
But when it comes to signing up for new ways to better our health, we prefer our information to come from professionals—who, we can't deny, also have a lot of advice to offer. There's no better time than spring to get back on track toward becoming our healthiest selves (minus overcommitting to a complete lifestyle overhaul). In the interest of spring-cleaning and prepping for the forthcoming bikini season, we asked eight health and fitness pros to share their top tips for living a healthier spring.
Scroll through for some words of wellness wisdom!
Nicole Granato, women's health expert: "For optimal health, our bodies need structure and balance. The way we start our days is the most important part of leading a healthier lifestyle. I highly recommend to all my clients to begin their day with room-temperature apple cider vinegar tonic. Add one to two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to a warm glass of water.
"Apple cider vinegar has been known to balance the pH levels in our bodies, creating an alkaline environment that in return fights off bacteria, illnesses, and yeast, and even helps minimize tumor growth. Feeding the digestive system essential enzymes makes all the difference first thing in the morning, as it lays the foundation for your day, improving mood, fatigue, skin, digestion, inflammation, muscle aches and pains, and fighting depression and cancerous cells. If there is one thing you should be doing every morning for your mind and body, it's not skipping your apple cider vinegar tonic.
"When choosing apple cider vinegar ($9), make sure you are choosing a vinegar that has not been distilled and contains the 'mother enzymes' that look like a muggy substance at the bottom of the bottle. The mother enzymes include essential nutrients like potassium, fiber, phosphorus, natural organic sodium, magnesium, sulfur, iron, copper, trace minerals, essential amino acids, and more."
Patrick Murphy, certified fitness professional and celebrity trainer: "Realize that stored fat means stored calories (and stored energy). Calorie expenditure is directly related to heart rate—not sweating. Focus on spiking your heart rate during your workouts. Heavy breathing is fat loss. Get the intervals going with your cardio and resistance-training workouts. It's time to work harder at the gym!"
Matt Conrad, trainer at Barry's Bootcamp: "Be consistent and realistic with your workout. No workout program will work if you aren't consistent. And if the workouts you're planning and goals aren't realistic, you will give up so much faster. Tip: A gym buddy can be just the motivation you need! Hold each other accountable."
Meryl Pritchard, certified nutritionist and founder of Kore Kitchen: "Drink more water. Water is an essential part of your diet. Staying hydrated helps you think clearly, have energy, and function optimally. If you don't like drinking plain water, I like 'spa water,' which just means adding fruits, vegetables, and herbs to your water and letting it marinate. This gives the water a mild flavor and adds vitamins and minerals. I recommend using dried fruits by California Crisps ($5). Some good combinations are cucumber, lime, and mint; strawberry and lemon; ginger and lemon; blood orange and rosemary; and strawberry and basil."
Dana James, certified nutritionist and founder of Food Coach: "Start the day with water infused with rose and a 12-strain probiotic with at least 25 billion colony forming units, or CFU. The rose water feels very feminine, while the probiotics help to restore the microbiome for radiant skin and improve detoxification and hormonal balance. I like Pure Drinkable Bulgarian Rose Water ($28) or Sakara Life Beautywater ($24)."
Elissa Goodman, holistic nutritionist and lifestyle cleanse expert: "We should all take a strong probiotic every day. I usually recommend a minimum of 50 billion beneficial bacteria by Renew Life ($34). There are studies that show weight loss, auto immune diseases, anxiety, and depression are all tied to a healthy gut."
Meryl Pritchard: "Cook for yourself, and cook from scratch. This allows you to have complete control over what goes into your body. You don't know what types of oils restaurants or delivery services are using, or how much salt and sugar they're adding. The best option is always to source and prepare your own food. If you don't know how to cook, teach yourself. I didn't know how to cook when I started Kore Kitchen, but with the help of Siri and Google, I was able to build a meal delivery service from teaching myself basic skills."
Matt Conrad: "Strengthen your core, above all. Having a strong core and strong abs will keep body fat away from your midsection, give you more range of motion, and prevent tons of injuries and diseases. And remember, your core is not just your abs; it's your obliques and lower back as well. Tip: Doing abs before your workout will make them work a lot harder doing your other exercises. For example, doing sit-ups before your bench press will keep your core more engaged."
Christine Bullock, fitness and lifestyle expert, creator of Super Shred, and co-creator of Kayo Better Body Care: "Start to shorten your workouts. You heard me right. Short, effective workouts boost fast weight loss and benefit long-term anti-aging. Including a 20- to 30-minute workout into your routine means you are more likely to stick to the daily workout and more willing to push your fitness boundaries knowing it won't be for long. Shorter intense workouts mixed with longer periods of rest decrease the amount of long-term aging by decreasing the amount of aging free radicals created in the body during your workout and the spike in cortisol levels, which can affect your metabolism in the long-term."
Patrick Murphy: "Adopt the whole-food diet as much as possible. Choose less of the highly refined processed foods—these body fat–gaining foods make up 80% of any grocery store. Have awareness! Choose apples; stay away from apple juice. Choose brown rice; stay away from brown rice pasta. Choose quinoa; stay away from quinoa crackers. Basically, eliminate choosing flour products more often. Your body fat will drop, energy levels will be more consistent, you'll reduce inflammation, and more—it's a win-win-win."
Christine Bullock: "Eat fermented food every day. Good bacteria like bifidobacteria and lactobacilli have been proven to stabilize a healthy weight, build immunity, support digestion, and prevent aging. It's important to add probiotic supplements into your diet, but there is still no better way to consume a bevy of good bacteria than from the consumption of natural sources like live-cultured yogurt, kefir, kombucha tea, tempeh, kimchi, or sauerkraut. Studies show that significant changes in gut bacteria can take place in as little as six days."
Meryl Pritchard: "Start your morning with a smoothie. Eating breakfast helps kick-start your metabolism and gives you the energy to start your day off on the right foot. It's good to have something hydrating and easy to digest, so it doesn't zap your energy after you eat it. At Kore Kitchen, we always serve a superfood smoothie for breakfast which is pre-digested, full of healthy fat, fiber, protein, and superfoods. We love using coconut water as the base for morning smoothies for its hydrating properties."
Dana James: "Try Nine Minutes of Nourishment. This is something I developed for my female clients who were too busy to meditate. Take three minutes to stretch the body. It could be cat and cow [yoga poses] or just a nice long stretch. Then take the next three minutes to express gratitude for everything in your life and what you want to call into your life. You might be grateful that you have an umbrella when it's raining. It's specific to you. The final three minutes is where you visualize the day unfolding in the most magnificent way. This becomes your blueprint for the day. By taking just nine minutes, you've not only activated the body with movement, but you've also moved yourself into a positive mood and developed a strategy for the day ahead. You'll find your day much more enjoyable, richer, and less stressful."
Elissa Goodman: "We should all detox on a daily basis. We are bombarded with toxins (metals, pesticides, chemicals, etc.), and we need to remove them as fast and as often as we can. I'm a big juicer because foods are the best natural detoxifiers. For example, romaine cleanses the blood; cucumbers cleanse the kidneys, liver, pancreas, and clear out the lymphatic system; cilantro and parsley detox heavy metals; dandelion greens and burdock root detox the liver. I recommend buying the Breville Juice Fountain Multi-Speed Juicer ($177) and juicing at home. I throw in cold-milled flax and chia seeds in my juice to give my digestion and intestines a boost to unload these toxins."
This story was originally published on April 13, 2016, and has been updated.