Establish healthy habits before spring break

Typically, pre-spring break training consists of caloric restriction and extra time on the treadmill or at a boot camp class to achieve that beach body.  Then, on vacation,  too often we tolerate a gain of five to 10 pounds only to return home depressed and irritated when forced to face reality.

Not only do you have to return to work or school, you now feel awful from drinking adult beverages and gorging on all-inclusive buffets. You have gained some of the weight back that you worked so hard to lose, and now have lost all motivation to eat clean foods, and work out consistently.

If you establish habits of working out and eating clean 90 percent of the time, there would be no issue with having fun for a week or so. You would come back to your old, but good habits. You get back to your exercise regimen, and you start to drink lots of water, eat lean proteins, fruits and veggies, and only splurge or miss a scheduled workout 10 percent of the time.

You may consume the occasional glass of wine or beer, or go out to eat on Friday night and splurge a little. No big deal at all IF, and ONLY if you have already established a healthy lifestyle 90 percent of the time.

Your daily meal plan template

Instead of staying on some ridiculous diet that just isn’t feasible, you need to think of having a daily meal plan template. This will help develop the mind set of choosing the proper foods at the proper times.

There are two different meal plan templates. A workout day and a non-workout day. They are very similar, except for your pre and post workout smoothie/protein shake.

Non-workout days

  • Large Breakfast: proteins, smart fats, functional carbohydrates
  • Lunch: protein, smart fats, functional carbs
  • Mid-afternoon: small feeding with protein and/or fat
  • Dinner: proteins, smart fats, veggies

Workout days (for someone who works out in the late afternoon/evening, adjust accordingly)

  • Large Breakfast: proteins, smart fats, functional carbs
  • Lunch: proteins, smart fats, functional carbs
  • 30-60 minutes pre-workout: ½ protein shake or protein smoothie or amino acid supplement
  • Post-workout: consume the other ½ after your workout
  • Dinner: small serving of proteins, smart fats, veggies

Workout routine

Hard, fast, and to the point is what you need. Numerous studies have shown that working out for shorter durations, yet at high intensities increases the metabolism, burns more calories post-exercise, and enhances those muscle-building hormones much better than long 90-minute workout routines. This workout template is for the busy individual who can’t seem to fit it all in.

Devoting two to three hours a week to tough exercise should be doable regardless of your lifestyle. If you are someone who wants to work out more, great! Just make sure to get the three high-intensity workouts in no matter what.

The rest is just a bonus. Again, we will use the template format as everyone will have different modalities of working out, or have access to certain gyms and pieces of equipment. The concept will stay the same. If you truly want to tap into your potential, three days of metabolic strength training for 30-45 minutes will be best. I know that some people love to ride the bike, do a spin class, or are avid runners. So, this template covers all fitness enthusiasts. Note: days will change depending on personal schedule.

  • Monday: Metabolic Strength
    Training or Interval Cardio (30-45 minutes)
  • Tuesday: rest
  • Wednesday: Metabolic Strength Training or Interval Cardio (30-45 minutes)
  • Thursday: rest
  • Friday: Metabolic Strength Training or Interval Cardio (30-45 minutes)
  • Saturday: active recovery (walk the dog, play basketball, hike, etc.)
  • Sunday: spend time doing what you want to do!

As you can see you don’t need to work out five to seven days a week for extended periods of time. If you are somewhat active through the day, and don’t get caught sitting all of the time, three hard workouts a week should produce some great results.

I have only developed a small outline for you to follow that should get you thinking in the right direction. The rest is up to you. Just keep these five major steps in mind when developing your personal program.

  1. Maintain realistic expectations
  2. Find what motivates you
  3. Take small steps
  4. Formulate an action plan
  5. Form lifelong habits


Justin Grinnell B.S., CSCS is is the owner of State of Fitness in East Lansing. You can reach him at  517.708.8828.


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