Forget New Year’s. I’ve always found that summer is the best time to kick-start healthy resolutions. For starters, its warm, balmy weather encourages you to be outdoors as compared to the frigid temps of January that just make you want to hibernate. Eating healthy is a whole lot easier when the weather’s warmer, too: While we crave lots of carbs during the cold-weather months, summer is all about light eating.
If you’ve been thinking about getting healthier, here are a few simple strategies that have worked for me:
1. Set your alarm an hour earlier—and use that extra time to get outside for a walk or run. One of the things I love most about summer is the fact that the sun rises early. I get up just as the light is peeking through my windows—and lace up my sneakers (or get on my bike) and head to the local park. This time of the day is like a treasure waiting to be opened and explored: it’s when the white mist is gently rising off the dewy grass and pond water of my local park; it’s when the colors of the sky range from a subdued orange sorbet to a brilliant fire red; it’s when there’s a stillness in the air that’s at once calming and meditative. Try this one morning and you’ll see what I mean: you’ll feel more energized—and you’ll be more motivated to eat healthy the rest of the day, too.
2. Visit your local farmer’s market every week—and commit to trying a new vegetable or fruit. For some reason, I’m less likely to pick up and try new produce when I’m at the grocery store. But when I’m at a farmer’s market, I’m more adventurous. Just today, I bought a bunch of arugula (an aromatic, peppery salad green)—which is high in vitamins A, C, and K, and calcium. I tossed it with some Boston lettuce, grape tomatoes, carrots, and protein-rich garbanzo beans for a simple, delicious dinner salad (even my four-year-old daughter and eight-year-old son ate it!). But that’s why I love summer: there are so many fresh fruits and vegetables that make it so much easier to eat healthier than in the winter.
3. Buy a reusable water bottle, and keep it filled. To stay hydrated, I keep my 25-ounce insulated water bottle with me at all times—in the car, at my desk, by my bedside. If you hate the taste of water (a lot of people do), add a little lemon to it—or even a splash of fruit juice or iced green or black tea (for added disease-busting antioxidants). Keeping your water bottle in sight ups the chances that you’ll drink. Also, keep in mind that your body often mistakes thirst for hunger, so if you think you’re hungry, reach for your water bottle first. You may be able to skip the snacks—and shave some calories off your daily intake.
4. Try a new activity—outdoors. Summer is the perfect time to try something new, outside the gym. Hike, bike, walk, play tennis, swim…whatever you think you might want to try, now’s the time to do it. You have more energy in summer—and chances are, you may find a new way of working out that you love.
5. Take your multivitamin every day. I have been a huge proponent of taking a daily multi; I keep my vitamins on my kitchen counter so I won’t forget to take them right after breakfast. By taking your multivitamin, you’re ensuring that your body has enough of the key nutrients it needs to function every day. Then all the other healthy food you eat? I consider it extra insurance to guarantee that you’re staying healthy.
Put one—or all—of these strategies in place this summer, and you’re guaranteed to put in place a healthy lifestyle that will last long into the fall and winter. And come next New Year’s, you’ll already be way ahead of the game!