Summer is my favorite time of the year. The mornings are glorious; trees, shrubs and flowers are in full bloom and after the harsh winter we experienced in Boise this year, I’m not complaining about the warming temperatures. It’s the best time to get out and move. And it’s the best time for quick and easy meals like salads and grilled meats. Keep it simple, but fresh and whole. Keep reading . . . I’ve got Five fabulous tips for making this summer your most fit ever! Most of all, have Fun!
1. Get Moving
I’m a part of a group of the cutest ladies who play tennis year round and in the summer we get up early to play twice a week. We hit hard and laugh hard, the perfect combination for fitness. In fact that’s a formula for success. Find something you love to do and get up and do it. No excuses! Summer days are long and despite the warm temperatures there’s always a way to get it done. Figure on 225-300 minutes per week which amounts to about 45-60 minutes 5 times per week.
Quick story–While chatting with a patient last week, it was apparent she was struggling with her fitness. She just couldn’t figure out how to get a workout in every day as recommended. Her mind was thinking gym, treadmills, weights, but her heart was not in it, so I asked, “What do you love to do?” She said, “The truth is I’d love to take country dance lessons”, but they weren’t offered near her (she lives in the country.) So we got online and found YouTube videos of country line dancing classes and all of a sudden she got very excited and said, “I could do that!” We even talked about where in her house she could exercise to the videos to avoid the scrutiny of critical family members and how to fit in to her daily routine. It was so fun to figure this out with her, all starting with the question, “What do you like to do?”
2. Eat Breakfast
Summer time is often associated with staying up way past bedtime, enjoying spectacular summer sunsets and late night movies, but this can wreak havoc with a regular morning routine. Research shows that starting the day off with a protein-rich breakfast will reduce the amount of calories consumed later on in the day. Check out WebMD’s link outlining a number of studies discussing the benefits of eating breakfast for weight loss.
Probably the most compelling reason for eating breakfast is to literally Break the Fast, that is the 10-12 hours or so since you last ate food the night before. By the time you get to lunch 15 to 20 hours will have passed without food. This is metabolism-slowing rather than metabolism-growing! We need to burn calories; we need our body to engage the fat burning enzymes necessary for weight loss.
For me, I love summer mornings even more than I enjoy sleeping in, but I find myself very quickly wrapped into a project outside in the garden or on the computer and realize that I’ve brushed off breakfast. Here are a few breakfast ideas from the blog to help you get your day off to a nutritious start. They’re delicious, nutritious, high in protein and quick to pull together.
3. Stay Hydrated
It’s hot out there and losing even a small percentage or our body weight in water can have really negative effects. A University of Utah study in 2003 revealed that even a 3 percent dehydration causes a shrinkage in cell size signaling a diminished metabolism. In addition dehydration can make us feel tired or lethargic so we may not be as active as we should be.
Most of us need over 80-120 ounces of fluids every day coming mostly from liquids, fruits and vegetables. How do you know if you’re getting adequate fluids? Check your urine. If it’s darker than pale lemonade you probably need more fluids.
Keep your fluids caffeine-free since caffeine is a diuretic. Enjoy water but if you’re like me and really don’t like plain water or artificial sweeteners, infuse your water with natural flavors like sliced cucumbers, orange slices, lemon slices or mint sprigs for a refreshing beverage.
A big trend in hydration right now is alkaline water with it’s pH level of 8 or 9 (tap water is around 7). More research needs to be done in this area but alkaline water boasts more minerals than most bottled waters, a good thing; however, tap water has even more minerals so unless you live in an area high in contaminants, don’t give up on good old water from the tap just yet . Recent studies do show that in addition to soothing acid reflux, alkaline water may help neutralize acid in the bloodstream, which leads to increased oxygen levels and improved energy and metabolism.
Bottom line: drink a lot of fluid this summer; your body will definitely thank you.
4. Enjoy All-In-One Summer Salads
Summer time is no time for lengthy kitchen preparations. There is way too much to do outside to be spending too much time inside. Plus who wants to heat up their kitchen in 90 degree plus heat? I love all-in-one type of meals like salads with grilled meats. They are low in calories, high in nutritional value especially fiber and protein which when eaten together help maintain your blood sugar, an important factor in weight loss management. Take a look at few of the recipes from the blog that are sure to please everyone.
5. Be Mindful
This principle might go without saying, but if you don’t at least think about being mindful, you’re probably heading into another day of chaotic eating. Just as we get into our cars and consider getting from A to B, if we don’t pay attention it may mean disaster; there are a lot of moving parts when we drive and it requires focus. Same thing with our eating. There are a lot of things to notice. Dr. Michelle May, a leading authority in Mindful Eating, developed the Mindful Eating Cycle which reminds us all of the cyclical nature of eating. Check out her website for more information at Am I Hungry.com.
Let’s start with the WHY? Why are you eating? Are you hungry or just craving something because you’re tired, bored, frustrated, stressed? Why you eat has so much influence on what you eat.
How about the WHAT? What are you choosing? (and it is your choice) No one is forcing anything down your throat; it’s all on you! Healthy, nutritious foods are just as available as less healthy options. Granted there are so many cultural influences that seem to take over when it comes to food choices, but here’s something that is definitely worth paying attention to: What you choose to eat depends on WHY you’re eating. If you have healthy goals then your food choices will reflect that. If you’re eating for reasons unrelated to health, then it doesn’t really matter what you eat does it?
Notice HOW you eat. Are you taking your time? Are you enjoying the food by chewing slowly, noticing the flavors and textures in your food? Being mindful of more than just the taste of food creates an overall more satisfying experience which leads to smaller volumes of food consumed. The HOW leads you to an awareness of HOW MUCH you eat. As you slow down, you’ll be more aware of your signals of hunger and fullness. These signals are chemically driven, but if continuously ignored, they will stop “talking” to your cells and you won’t know when to stop. I see this in a lot of my weight loss surgery patients. Getting back to listening and obeying these signals is key to long term weight loss.
Finally, pay attention to WHERE you invest your energy. If food is always on your mind because it’s the greatest pleasure in your life which might be accurate when you eat something incredibly amazing, then maybe you’re not involved in enough hobbies or other interesting things. Take inventory. Food should take up some of your time and attention, but keeps its place as only one important area of your life.
Summertime is your time to move more, eat healthier, drink more fluids and enjoy mindfulness.
It’s your time to be lean in 2017!!