Summer can either be a time to work on your health or to let it go completely. Because I like happy mediums, here are my thoughts on how to strike a balance.
Tip #1 – Get some extra sleep.
Many of us will take some time off during the summer, and either travel or just do a fun “staycation”. Also, many parents I know have a more relaxed schedule during the summer simply because the kids don’t have to be up and out early in the morning. Even an extra thirty or sixty minutes of sleep in the morning can make a big difference in your health, especially if you’re working on losing weight.
Tip #2 – Plan your eating.
July 4th barbecues in the neighborhood are awesome. But what do you do to avoid either stuffing yourself or mindlessly grazing for several hours? First, plan out your day and have a healthy breakfast (and lunch if your BBQ is later in the day). Second when you arrive at the party and it’s time to eat, serve yourself ONE plate of food, have a seat and savor your food. The more slowly you can eat your food, in general, the more likely you are to read your body signals telling you when you are full.
Tip #3 – Limit alcohol.
On its own, alcohol is not bad for us. Sometimes types of alcoholic beverages, however, are better than others. Red wine appears to be the healthiest choice, both from a calorie standpoint and also it contains the most antioxidants and resveratrol. Beer in moderation is okay if you are not gluten sensitive. I have to watch out for sugary drink mixes in the cocktails that I like. Part of the health impacts of drinking alcohol is that it generally makes us more likely to make poor food and behavior choices.
Tip #4 – Add variety to your activities.
I love reading my AAA magazine to get new ideas for fun activities and places to go during the summer. You might find yourself doing a lot more walking when you’re on vacation, which is why many people stay at a stable weight on vacation, even while enjoying new and different foods. If you’re staying at home, try out a new class at your gym or take a different route on your usual walk. In addition to being the spice of life, variety improves your brain function.
Tip #5 – Drink plenty of water.
Don’t wait until you are thirsty to drink water. The thirst mechanism in humans is not very sensitive; by the time we feel thirsty, we are usually already behind the eight-ball on hydration. The general rule for daily water intake is: drink in ounces of water, half of your body weight in pounds. Example: if you weigh 150 pounds, drink about 75 ounces of water throughout the day. This takes planning! Also, manage your psychology around water – add some flavorings if you need to (preferably without artificial sweeteners) or lemon slices. I have a reusable water bottle that I refill during the day to track how much water I am drinking (four of them is my daily goal). I try to start my day by finishing one bottle full of water to get a jumpstart on this.