If you’ve been procrastinating on building a healthier lifestyle, summer is definitely the time to get started. With the nice weather and the long days abound, you can take the time and spend the energy to build good habits that you will carry with you throughout the rest of the year.
Get Into Exercise
If you’re like most people, one of the areas of a healthy lifestyle that causes you the most trouble is making the time to exercise. Summer is a great time to start exercising because you can take advantage of the good weather to get out of the gym, especially if you find that the gym environment is not conducive to your exercise needs. Try out these exercise ideas this summer:
- If you’re new to habitually being active, start slow with a simple walk around the neighborhood or a bike ride each day when you get home from work. You’ll get your Vitamin D for the day, and you’ll soon start to enjoy exercise that will encourage you to increase your overall activity levels.
- Try out a new sport. If you don’t like going to the gym but still want to be more active, take advantage of the good weather to try out a new sport or outdoor activity like hiking or pick-up soccer. This is also a good time to visit your local swimming pool. Swimming is low-impact on your joints and will feel more like a fun hobby than a strenuous exercise. You never know what activity you’ll end up loving.
- Increase your activity levels throughout the day. Take the stairs, bike to work, or practice exercises you can do at your desk. A fun and quick way to get into shape is by using a jump rope. It may sound silly, but just spending five minutes a day jump roping can make a huge difference.
- If you find that you have a hard time making yourself exercise, come up with a rewards system. For example, every time you exercise, put a dollar in a jar and at the end of the month or at the end of a few months, give yourself the option to spend the money.
Improve Your Diet
The summer brings with it lots of delicious fruits and vegetables that are grown in your region. Take advantage of the season to improve your eating habits:
- There are more farmers’ markets active during the summer, so take the time to support this local, sustainable industry by shopping away from the grocery store. Depending on where you live, there is usually a plethora of fresh fruits and vegetables for sale at low prices. Farmers’ markets tend to also have many samples of locally made foods and products, so walking around in the sunshine while supporting your local agriculture industry is a great way to spend your day.
- Lighten up your diet by shifting away from heavy starches, grains, and red meat in favor of seasonal options. Excellent and delicious foods to eat during the summer include watermelon, spinach, lettuce, berries, mangos, corn, cantaloupe, tomatoes, and many more. Most in-season produce is lighter than winter produce, so if you stick to these items, you’re more likely to lose a little bit of weight while you’re at it. At the same time, most of these food items come with excellent nutritive benefits, so eat your fill! For proteins, stick to lighter options like fish (remember to shop local, sustainable options), tofu, and grilled chicken. Don’t be afraid to drop a lot of the protein from your diet. Most people only need a protein serving about the size of a deck of cards in a day, so there’s no need to overdo it – unless, of course, you’re working out quite a bit.
- Increase your water intake. If you’re like most people, you probably don’t drink enough water during the day. Drinking more water can help encourage weight loss, curb your cravings, and increase your energy levels and sense of well-being. Get yourself a refillable water bottle and have a little competition with yourself each day. Set daily goals of how many ounces you want to drink. Your water bottle should have measurements on it so you can keep up. You can also make healthy, flavored water. For example, adding cucumber, lemon, ginger, and mint will give you delicious and detoxifying “spa water”.
Cut the Bad Habits
As you start to make these great changes to your habits, you’ll probably find that other changes start to come naturally. This is a very normal experience. Once you start to improve your health a bit, it’s a self-perpetuating cycle – one good decision leads to another good decision. The better you start to feel, the better you will want to keep feeling. So once you’ve made some of these other adjustments, start working on these harder-to-break habits:
- Decrease your drinking. Not only is drinking hard on your body, it can also cause you to gain weight, especially if you are drinking heavy drinks like beer or sugary mixed drinks. If you’re most interested in cutting calories, try switching to stronger drinks that allow you to drink less overall. If you feel like you need to decrease your total alcohol intake but you have trouble in social situations, start by alternating between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks over the course of the night. This will help you feel involved in the activity without feeling like you need to constantly drink.
- Cut back on your smoking. Quitting cold turkey is extremely difficult so try to find support groups and start slowly. If you have not done so already, consider switching to vaping. Vaping does less damage to your lungs than traditional cigarettes and it can help you save money. Try ordering vape pens online to save even more.
- Improve your sleep cycle. You may be surprised to discover how much better you feel when you improve your sleep quality. Make sure you are avoiding screens for at least an hour before bed and make sure you are getting to bed at the same time every night and waking up at the same time every morning.
- Cut yourself a break. Allow yourself some space for your mental health. Each day, make some time to do something good for yourself like read a book or do your local newspaper’s crossword puzzle.
Once you’ve started on the road to improving your lifestyle, the rest will come naturally. Make this summer an opportunity to do something positive for yourself and get started on making changes towards a better lifestyle permanently. Your mind and body will thank you later!