The official start to summer is June 21. But in practical terms, it’s whenever you find yourself outdoors, poolside or otherwise enjoying the longer days and warmer nights. Whether you circle the summer solstice on your calendar or not, you’ve got 31 days to prepare.
First up, undoing some of those questionable choices you’ve made over the past few months. You know, the Netflix binges, the comfort food deliveries, the … generally staying indoors. To feel your best this summer, you’ll want to eat better, be active and set yourself up for success.
This 10-point summer countdown will help. Some of these healthy lifestyle tips are ones you already do and some might need some extra work to become second nature. Either way, this plan is meant to be flexible.
Follow along and you’ll be ready to take on all the beach days, vacations, weddings and everything else summer throws your way.
10. DRINK MORE WATER
Drinking water is always a good idea. Even more so when the weather’s warm, as you need to replace sweat and stay hydrated. But, as you approach summer, drinking water can help detox your system, improve your complexion, curb your appetite, aid digestion and even keep your mind sharp. To recap: Water is good. Generally, men should consume 15 cups and women 11 cups of water a day.
9. WALK MORE
Walking is a lot more fun when you’re not trudging through snow and rain. So, use this pleasant weather to get outdoors and walk around. Whether it’s for exercise, getting to and from work or just finding opportunities to take more steps, the benefits to your health are numerous — think: lower blood pressure and greater weight loss. To track your efforts, you can use the MyFitnessPal app to count your steps. Set a target step goal (many people use 10,000) and track your progress.
8. EAT YOUR VEGETABLES
The days of hearty stews are over, and the time for light, vegetable-driven meals has arrived. Rather than simply garnishing your plate with a token veggie, make vegetables the star of the show. Get creative with salads, whip up a stir-fry or try some zucchini pasta. Another way to keep things interesting: Join a CSA and discover some new-to-you veggies.
7. GET PLENTY OF SLEEP
Inadequate sleep has been shown to affect your weight, food choices and stress control — all things that can sabotage your summer fitness goals. So, set a bedtime, and stick to it, aiming for 7–9 hours of sleep per night. You’ll wake up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day.
6. BRING YOUR LUNCH TO WORK
Those midday sandwich runs can really add up. Especially when you throw in chips. And a drink. To combat the hunger-induced bad decisions, bring your lunch to work. That way, you control the ingredients and portions, so you know exactly what you’re eating. For some menu-planning help, try these make-ahead lunches that all clock in at 400 calories or less.
5. ADOPT HIIT WORKOUTS TO BURN MORE CALORIES
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) will get your heart pumping, burn calories and fat — and it can do all that in 30 minutes or less. So, adding interval training to your regular exercise regimen is an effective way to mix things up. For some inspiration, here’s a 15-minute HIIT workout you can do anywhere.
4. TARGET YOUR CORE
Chances are, you might find yourself in a swimsuit this summer. Which means now is the time to work on those abs. You don’t need fancy equipment or even a gym — you just need a little space to move around. To get started, try this 10-minute core workout on for size.
3. CREATE A PLAYLIST THAT KEEPS YOU MOVING
Listening to music has been shown to boost your performance and enjoyment while working out, and some studies suggest the right music can even increase power output. At the very least, it’s fun and distracting, which is often just what you need when pushing through a tough workout. So, create a playlist — or multiple playlists — that get you energized, and break them out when you’re on the trail or at the gym.
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2. REDUCE THOSE EMPTY LIQUID CALORIES
Beer, wine, cocktails and even soda have their place. And sometimes, that place is comfortably nestled in your hand. But all those calories add up. The average soda contains about 140 calories. Wine clocks in around 120 calories per glass, while stouts and hoppy IPAs can approach 200. Cocktails with several ingredients are even more. But water … water has 0 calories. And tasty sparkling waters like La Croix and Waterloo: still 0. So reach for some bubbles (no, not champagne) the next time you’re craving something festive, and you’ll cut calories while staying hydrated.
1. PLAN AN ACTIVE VACATION
OK, now it’s time for the fun part: vacation. Sure, you could lie on the beach for a week or sip drinks from the comfort of a hammock. But try mixing in some physical activity to reap the benefits of all you’ve accomplished above. Plan a hiking or biking trip to a national park. Go on a yoga retreat. Vacation in one of America’s most walkable cities. No matter your destination, be sure to build in plenty of time to relax. You’re on vacation, and you earned it.