The WW Guide to Spring | WW USA
Welcome to the seasonal equivalent of a deep-cleansing breath. We’ve unlocked 23 science-backed ways to restore and refresh your mind, body, and mood. But before we start, a meditation, if you will: In and out through the nose, and on a count of six: s-p-r-i-n-g.
When is a walk more than just a walk? When it’s paired with a side of whoaa.
We’re talking about awe, “that feeling of wonder and amazement,” says certified personal trainer Christi Smith, CSCS, associate manager of science translation at WW. Nature is a rich source of the stuff (towering trees, IG-worthy sunsets), and simply experiencing it is associated with greater feelings of compassion, gratitude, and generosity. A recent study found that when older adults were prompted to seek out such awe-inducing sights during short outdoor walks over an eight-week period, they reported more positive emotions and less distress in their daily lives than those who hadn’t been prompted.
In need of some walkspo? Our guided interval-walk podcast, WalkTalks, features guests like Matthew McConaughey and Oprah. And you can redeem Wins for a subscription trial to 99 Walks, an app that offers walking classes.
You’ve probably rolled your eyes at someone saying, “Are you drinking enough water?” Well, slow your roll, because science has entered the chat. A study published in Nutrition Reviews found that being even mildly dehydrated is linked with greater feelings of fatigue and decreased alertness.
To keep your water levels—and your energy—in check, track your intake in the WW app. (Drinking water also adds PersonalPoints™ to your Budget!) And find versions of H2O you’re actually thirsty for: sparkling water, cucumber-infused water, water poured over ice cube spheres. However you imbibe, keep your agua where you can see it. This mega-size WW jug will track your daily intake right in front of your eyes.
If oats can be milk, then anything can be anything—and mushrooms definitely got that memo. From mushroom coffee to mushroom meat, the fungi are true shape-shifters.
“Their texture and moisture capacity makes them an easy meat replacement in recipes,” says registered dietitian Angela Goscilo, M.S. R.D., senior nutrition manager at WW. While they’re not protein-rich, mushrooms are teeming with heart-healthy potassium and energy-supporting vitamin B3. Plus, some varieties grown under UV light offer immune-boosting vitamin D.
If you’re looking to lighten up on—not cut out—meat, Goscilo suggests substituting 25% of the meat in a recipe with mushrooms as a way to add veggies and save on Points®. Pretty much all mushrooms have a similar nutrition profile, so just go with your fav fungi. Us? We’ll be trying this turkey stir-fry with shiitakes.
Saved by the Bell, Sex and the City, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Reboots are everywhere now, and throwbacks can be just as rewarding off-screen.
Specifically, bringing back childhood pastimes like hopscotch or Hacky Sack could be good for your mind and body. The act of play—i.e., engaging in an activity for the purpose of joy, not achievement—has been shown in research to promote feelings of well-being and to improve stress-coping skills. Plus, it’s just freakin’ fun.
What’s key is to find an activity you enjoy in the present as much as you did in the past. Hula-hooping enthusiasts, you’re in luck: This weighted hula hoop packs in all the hip-swinging action with a little resistance for more core strengthening.
No matter what’s on the menu—last night’s leftovers or takeout from the corner deli—sitting in front of your computer while scarfing lunch down not only depletes the pleasure of eating, but it’s also just not great for your health. A survey in Norway found that people who skipped their lunch breaks had up to seven times the risk of mental and physical exhaustion as those who didn’t.
As temps warm up, take your lunch—outside. To get into the picnicky mood, make it in a mason jar. These containers “reduce dishes and make packing a salad easier, since there is only one container,” says Goscilo. The key, she adds, is to “make sure that all the wet ingredients—like dressing or tomatoes—are at the bottom, and anything that could wilt or get mushy is at the top.” Or use this jar, which has a cubby for wet ingredients so you don’t have to worry about soggy-bottomed lettuce. This veritable veggie layer cake offers a fresh spin on the classic Greek salad, and it was created specifically to be packed into a mason jar.
Working toward your wellness goals is about progress, not perfection. So when you (inevitably) encounter a setback, give yourself some grace in the form of self-compassion.
Research shows that practicing self-compassion—being kind to ourselves, particularly during tough times—is associated with better mental and physical health, including lower risk of cardiovascular disease and more self-improvement motivation.
To lap up those bennies, pen a self-compassion letter, says Allison Grupski, Ph.D., a behavioral psychologist and WW senior director of behavior change strategies and coaching: “Picture yourself doing something in the future that you’ve struggled with in the past.” Maybe you flaked on your workouts for the week. Since it may be difficult to know what to say to future you (hello…me?), consider what you would say to your closest friend. Then seal your letter and save for when the obstacle arrives in real time. You can also get some on-demand inspo from these pop-open cards—written by us! Each one offers a different motivational mantra that’ll encourage you to keep going.
Rainy days can get you down, but in a good way. Research shows that most people find nature sounds, like rainfall, restorative. These sounds can activate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system, aka its calming rest mode.
Other noises can have a similar effect. While more research is needed, studies suggest autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR)—a sensation some people experience in response to man-made sounds and sights—is associated with feelings of calm and relaxation. (Feel for yourself with our ASMR series on TikTok.)
When spring showers arrive, tune into their white noise–like hum for a mini mind massage. If, like most people, you find it soothing, use it in other ways: Keep a recording of it on your phone or use a meditation app, and play it in moments you know you get stressed.
The negativity bias is a legit psychological thing. “We’re more tuned into the things that aren’t going well than we are to the things that are,” says Grupski. One way to combat that instinct? A WW challenge.
“Participating in one and then getting that little reinforcement with a badge is going to help you focus on the positives,” says Grupski. And that’ll keep you going on your wellness journey.
Ready? Starting March 14, track one meal in the WW app for a week to earn our Seven Days Strong badge. Grupski is doing it too; check out her Connect group—Dr. Allison’s Challenges—to celebrate the little victories together.
Living in yoga pants has its benefits—mostly comfy, stretchy ones. But if the clothes you wear to exercise are the same ones you wear to binge Bridgerton, that can blur the boundaries between when it’s time to move your body and time to…well, not move your body.
“Have clothes that you save for only when you exercise, and put them in a special place,” says Grupski. “You’ll build an association between those items and working out. So when you wear them, you’re more likely to follow through.” Your power outfit depends largely on your style and activities, but these socks with inspirational sayings—akin to having a cheerleader at your toes—work for everything and every body. You can stash them in a travel shoe bag emblazoned with the phrase Go for It (redeemable with a few Wins) to really up the motivational ante.
Everyone has a story, and consciously or not, we’re always in the midst of telling it. “We use stories as a way to make sense of our lives,” says Grupski.
Here’s the problem: Those stories aren’t always accurate. And, unfortunately, they can hold us back from achieving our goals. Say, for example, you tripped during yoga class once and have avoided it ever since. You told yourself you hated yoga and ultimately bought into that. Research in the field of narrative psychology has found that if you say something enough, you believe it, fact or fiction.
That’s where something called reframing comes in: “By rewriting the story and telling it differently, reframe the way you think,” says Grupski. “And the way you think impacts what you do.” So get comfy, light a candle, and put pen to paper. Think about the areas of your wellness journey where you get stuck the most, and write about them in a more honest and empowering way. If you were writing about yoga today, you might recall that you tripped during that class—but also that you got back up and kept going. As you write it all out, says Grupski, shift the focus to the future. Because the part of the story that matters most is where it’s going next.
This year, California—the most populous state in the country—made composting mandatory, meaning that food scraps and other organic matter must be recycled instead of trashed.
Composting helps eliminate food waste, which is an initiative that’s close to our hearts here at WW. To start your own compost routine, review your local composting guidelines and decide whether a backyard, curbside, or community bin makes the most sense. For in-home bins, check out Lomi, a sleek, one-button composting machine that has received more than $3 million in crowdfunding since last year. Or opt for a bin that’s designed for the freezer to minimize odor, like this one.
You don’t need a green thumb to reap the well-being benefits of gardening. Just think: hard to kill. It’s what Goscilo looks for when selecting windowsill herbs to grow. Her fave? Mint, which is the Energizer Bunny of greens.
Growing mint not only fills your kitchen with a superfresh scent (great for masking last night’s tilapia), but it’s also an awesome add-on for food and drinks. Muddle it into iced tea or a cocktail for a (sugar-free) taste upgrade. Or blend it into an unboring pesto: The mint-basil pesto in this dish will be all the more satisfying knowing its source.
Spices for spring? Now, that’s groundbreaking. We tend to associate these seasonings with wintry, warming meals like stews, but they lend punch to spring-inspired dishes, says Goscilo, and “they add a ton of flavor without adding Points.”
A favorite at WW HQ: turmeric. which is rich in curcumin. This anti-inflammatory compound has been studied for its role in supporting cognitive health, improving blood sugar response, and a slew of other health benefits, and some studies suggest it could even alleviate seasonal allergy symptoms. That said, the jury is still out on how much of the stuff you’d actually need to eat to reap those rewards. So for now, we’re mostly just jazzed about its taste bud–tickling powers.
For a fresh and filling weeknight dinner, whip up this turmeric-dusted grain bowl, served with quinoa and squash.
Spring has sprung, but your butt may be in snooze mode.
Dead butt syndrome—aka gluteal amnesia—is a legit condition where your “glutes forget how to activate in the proper sequence, most likely because they’re not being used,” says Smith, adding that with time, other muscles may pick up the brunt of the work, which can lead to knee pain and lower back and hip issues. More seated calls and WFH-ing with less movement over the past couple of years has made the condition more common.
The good news: Gluteal amnesia is totally preventable and reversible. If you’re at a desk, do a set of sit-to-stands in the middle of the day to fire up your glutes. Or copy Smith’s move: “If I’m seated for a long time, I do side-to-side steps with a band just above my knee to invigorate blood flow and wake up my lower body, including the glutes.” These bands come in three levels of resistance (and pretty pastels!), so you can customize your clench.
As the wise scholar Ferris Bueller once said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”
Those words are more powerful than ever in such shaky times. According to a recent study in Emotion, when faced with uncertainty, we tend to savor more—as in, we show greater appreciation for the little things.
Why not practice that at the dinner table? “Focus and appreciate the smells and the colors on your plate,” says Goscilo. Next, actively slow yourself down while you’re eating. “Maybe it’s taking one bite at a time and being cognizant to really chew your food and reflect on what you’re tasting,” Goscilo adds. Research shows that people who eat mindfully—slowly and consciously—are more likely to eat healthier.
Setting the clocks for daylight savings? Try setting your own clock too.
Studies show that viewing sunlight early in the day helps to regulate circadian rhythm, our built-in clock that plays a role in when people feel alert and when they feel sleepy. When we’re in sync with it, we sleep more soundly and wake more easily. When we aren’t, we’re more likely to experience a slew of negative health and well-being effects—off-kilter circadian rhythm has been linked with heart disease, diabetes, and mental health conditions. While more research is needed to fully understand the impact of circadian misalignment, what’s clear is that sleep timing is integral to health.
As the weather warms, try and make it outside to catch a sunrise—even if you’re just in a lawn chair on your driveway. Because beyond the noted health benefits, it’s also just really, really pretty.
Generally speaking, listening to your body is a very good thing—except, perhaps, when you’re on the last leg of a run. A small study of novice runners found that the more closely they paid attention to their own bodies while running—counting their steps, thinking about the muscles in their feet—the more effortful the run felt. But the more they distracted themselves—watching TV—the less they felt they were exerting themselves.
“If we want to be more active but don’t love doing it, putting our attention to things that are beautiful or distracting or interesting can be one strategy to help,” says Grupski. “Ideally, you do stuff that you like to do. But if you can’t, experiment with finding ways to adjust your approach and your attention.”
One of the best distractions? Music. Gobs of science says that good tunes make exercise more enjoyable—and even more so when you sync your strides. Research shows that running with the beat boosts performance and decreases perceived effort. Look into apps like Weav, which creates playlists based on your pace. Or if you have a particular goal, like a 10-minute mile, check out Jog.fm to create a playlist timed to your tempo.
Oh, you don’t dance? Your husband’s cousin’s wedding video proves otherwise. “Once you start, you won’t want to stop,” says professional dancer and WW Digital 360 Coach Alexis Rose Artis.
In fact, dancing is a pretty much perfect form of exercise. It provides both physical and cognitive benefits, targeting your entire body while improving mood.
Artis suggests trying a high-intensity dance class: “The moves are simple, but they keep your heart rate high.” Meaning it doesn’t matter your level of fitness or skill—whether you’re a master of modern dance or hardly know how to two-step, you’ll get the same payoff.
Or check out the curated selection of obé Fitness classes offered in the WW app, including 10- to 28-minute dance classes. As a WW member, you also get a free monthlong membership to obé’s own app—and access to all their workouts. Happy dance!
Healing doesn’t have to be woo-woo. There’s something so restorative about tapping into your physical strength. “Increased joint mobility, flexibility, and better balance are just a few of the health benefits we get from strength training,” says certified trainer and WW Digital 360 Coach Bianca Vesco, and new research confirms it also burns fat, helping you achieve the same weight-loss results as cardio.
No need to pump iron. Start with the best workout equipment on the market: your own body. “I cannot recommend bodyweight training enough,” says Vesco. “Stick to the foundational basics: squats, lunges, and push-ups. These exercises make everyday life moves—like bringing your groceries inside in one trip—much easier.” If cardio is your jam (we see you, fast walkers), try adding a little extra resistance by using these wrist and ankle weights.
If to-do lists are assignments, ta-da lists are accomplishments. The concept is simple: At the end of each day, jot down what you did in a notebook (like this one!) so you can look at and appreciate what you’ve completed.
“This is a great way to boost self-efficiency,” says Megan Schreier, MPH, senior manager of behavior change science at WW. “By noting what we’ve achieved, we increase our confidence in doing these behaviors going forward.” Whether you set a “Stand up” reminder to go off a few times during the workday or made that overdue doctor’s appointment—even if you didn’t do everything you wanted today, you did something today. And that’s worth a lot.
Spring breathes new life into everything—and you have this superpower too.
“Breathing is one of the most beneficial ways to counteract the body’s stress response,” says Schreier. “When we experience prolonged stress, our bodies release glucocorticoid hormones to help us react, which can increase our appetite, especially for foods higher in fat and sugar.”
There are many breathing techniques, but we recommend the simple box method: Just inhale, hold for a count of four, exhale, and hold for a count of four. Do this for two to five minutes. “When you focus on your breath, you’re bringing your mind back to the here and now, which helps to quiet the body’s stress response,” adds Schreier.
If you need more guidance, try the Breethe meditations in the WW app. (As a WW member, you get two weeks free!)
Raid your fridge for a lift: A small study found that smelling citrus for 10 minutes can boost your mood for a half hour. (Is that why everyone’s infatuated with sumos?)
Since our nose and taste buds work closely together (flavor is mostly related to smell), it wouldn’t hurt to eat more citrus too. Oranges are a good source of fiber (which keeps you full) and an excellent source of vitamin C (which protects your immune system and supports healthy skin).
Explore new ways to cook with oranges in the WW app. Just type the word “orange” in the recipes search bar. A few of our warmish-weather faves: Orange-Pomegranate Freekeh Salad with Cardamom Dressing, Sparkling Orange Margaritas, and Orange Upside-Down Cake.
Now, this is what we call being a people person: A series of studies in The Journal of Positive Psychology found that making others happy leads to greater life satisfaction than just trying to make ourselves happy. Giving back is good for us physically too. For example, a four-year study of more than 1,600 older adults found that those who averaged around four hours a week of volunteering were 40% less likely to have high blood pressure than those who didn’t volunteer.
If you don’t have the time or money to donate, WW makes it easy for members: Use your Wins to help fund nonprofit organizations like Black Girls Do Bike, which supports women of color who share a passion for cycling.