Summer is finally here! Warmer weather, longer days and relaxed schedules; it’s no wonder it’s a favorite time of the year for many, including myself. However, don’t let summertime throw your healthy lifestyle into a tailspin. I hear people say they plan to “get more exercise” and “get outside” … but talk is cheap.
If you find yourself poolside with a fruity drink more often than not, you may need to be a little more specific in setting your summer goals. Take a few minutes and get real about your summer plans. Identify what you are out to accomplish over the next few months and how you are going to do it. With longer days and warmer temps, summer is a perfect season for weight loss, eating more fresh foods and just getting outside and getting active.
Here are four tips for sticking to a healthy lifestyle this summer even if your schedule and surroundings are changing:
A plan is imperative
To stay on a healthy course, you need to have a plan. Whether you want to continue to lose weight this summer or increase your physical strength or endurance by September, you need to do a little concrete thinking about where you are going and how you are going to get there. Perhaps your goal is to simply maintain your health this summer, which is also a great goal, but you still need to have a concept in your mind about how you are going to do that.
For example, figure out where and when you are going to fit exercise in and solicit a group of friends to bike with or walk with. Seek out some exciting summer recipes that are healthy and will keep you on track, or find a new activity that will keep you from getting bored with fitness this summer. I personally promised myself I’d get my new road bike by June 1 (did it!), and my husband and I made a pact that we are going to do one big bike ride together each weekend. Of course, you need to be flexible, but you can try to anticipate and plan around things that might throw you for a loop this summer like family vacations, weddings or work obligations.
Set reachable and realistic goals
Setting a goal that is totally unattainable over the summer (like returning to the weight you were at age 20) is setting yourself up for failure. Be realistic about who you are today and what your limitations may be. Set goals that are attainable like losing 10 pounds this summer or running a 5K by September. If you reach your goal, you can set a new one, but setting a goal you may just never accomplish isn’t healthy. I always say, “Strive for progress not perfection.”
Reward yourself for small successes
If your long-term goal is to eventually lose 50 pounds, recognize that’s going to take some time … maybe longer than just this summer. Focus instead on having a good day or week. Over time, those good days and weeks will add up to a healthy, new lifestyle. Choose rewards that support your healthy lifestyle changes. For example, treat yourself to a new workout outfit after the first 10 pounds or to a health and fitness magazine after a week of exercising each day. And rewards don’t have to equal spending money. A peaceful bubble bath could be a fantastic treat!
Be flexible this summer
We will all most certainly have ups and downs over the next few months. Nobody’s perfect. Even the most dedicated exercisers get stuck in traffic, come down with a terrible summer cold or get foiled by kids’ sports and carpools. There will be days that are harder than others, and some days will totally and completely unravel despite the best laid plans. Don’t give up and don’t allow yourself to get completely off track this summer. Be flexible, and most important, be proactive. Seek out places to exercise. Try new fruits and veggies. Keep your eye on the end prize: continued good health.