Staying on Track with Your Goals During Summer
School is out and the sun is shining- summer is here! Backyard BBQ’s, vacations, pool days and sunburns are upon us. Because of summer break and much needed vacations, our routines tend to change during this time of year. This can be a refreshing and welcoming change to our regular schedule, but can sometimes make it hard to stay on track with our goals. Here are some tips to help you stay on track while still soaking up the summer sunshine and fun:
Tip #1: Stay hydrated
Hydration is critical to performing and feeling our best, especially during the hot summer months. When we are running around from one place to another, we can forget about the importance of staying hydrated. By the time you actually feel thirsty, you’re already on the road to dehydration. Carry a refillable water bottle with you wherever you go and give yourself a goal number of refills throughout the day. If you know you’re going to be out and about for awhile, especially with kids, consider getting a large beverage cooler with a spigot that you can fill up at the beginning of the day to make sure you have water with you all day long.
While drinking water is the number one way to stay hydrated, the Institute of Medicine claims that we get about 20% of our daily water intake from food. Food with a high-water content, like many fruits and veggies, provide volume to make us feel full with relatively low calories. Additionally, consuming these fruits and veggies also means we are benefiting from the vitamins and minerals they contain. During summer, many of the seasonal fruits and veggies have a high water content. In fact, watermelon is about 92% water per volume (1 cup of watermelon contains about ½ cup of water) and it has some fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, magnesium and lycopene. Other high water content foods to enjoy this summer are strawberries, cucumbers, celery, lettuce, bok-choy, radishes, zucchini, tomatoes and bell peppers.
Tip #2: Focus on simple meal planning
Multiple hour meal prep sessions aren’t as fun when the beautiful weather is calling your name. Keep your meal plan simple, so you can easily knock it out in 30 minutes or less and enjoy the rest of the day. An easy formula for meals to remember is a protein source + veggie(s) + complex carbohydrate (sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, etc.). Fill each category with whatever is on sale or seasonal that week. If you are buying seasonal, local produce, the quality should be so good that the flavor of the vegetable will shine through with just a little oil, salt and pepper.
Summer also lends itself to grilling instead of sweating over the oven or stove. Grilling, in general, can be a much healthier form of preparing food. Consider grilling lots of vegetables and a versatile protein (like chicken) for dinner Sunday night then enjoy the leftovers in multiple ways throughout the week. For example, you can add leftover grilled vegetables to eggs, salads, tacos, sandwiches- the options are endless!
Tip #3: Embrace movement in all forms
While we still want you to come to the gym regularly, summer provides countless options for movement. Try to expand your idea of being active beyond the gym. The longer days make post-dinner walks enjoyable and the milder mornings make it easier to go swimming or biking. Just a quick game of tag with your kids is a great way to stay active and reduce sedentary time throughout the day. Some places for active adventures in and near Davis include:
- The Putah Creek Reserve
- The Arboretum
- Kayaking at Lake Solano
- Disc golf in Davis or Vacaville
- Davis Bike Loop
- Numerous pools and parks
If you still have trips to plan for the season, consider planning “active vacations”. Besides feeling great from moving around and exploring new areas, active vacations tire everyone out so you will sleep well despite not being in your own bed. Remember that your idea of an “active vacation” is unique based on your fitness level, ages involved and interests. While some people may enjoy an all-day hike, you might prefer a morning walking tour instead. Regardless, both options allow for a day of exploring on your feet that helps you maintain your physical activity levels on vacation. Just do what works best for you and your family when you plan an active vacation.
Tip #4: Drink water with or in alcoholic beverages
Ice cold beers, chilled wine and cocktails, might sound like the best way to quench your thirst on hot summer days, but keep in mind that they are also dehydrating. It’s best to enjoy a glass of water in between alcoholic beverages. These delicious beverages will also affect the way you feel tomorrow, which may or may not influence the likelihood of you sticking to your workout routine. This is where it helps to set a game plan ahead of time. Give yourself a limit before going into a social situation with alcohol, so you’ll still feel good the following day.
Another trick to enjoying alcoholic drinks over summer while still sticking to your goals is choosing lighter beverages. For example, vodka or gin mixed with sparkling water and fresh citrus and/or herbs is a great way to keep the drink light and low in sugar. Wine spritzers also create a lighter beverage and make the wine last longer- it’s a win win! You can use frozen fruit to help keep your beverage cold too. Finally, if you don’t want to drink alcohol (you’ll feel better than everyone else the next day), make yourself a fun mocktail with kombucha and sparkling water!
Tip #5: Party food...is it worth it?
Just because there is food at a party, doesn’t mean you have to eat. If you are hungry and it looks appetizing, please fill up your plate and enjoy! However, I recently noticed that I often feel obligated to eat something at food gatherings, just because the food is there. A question I’ve been asking myself recently is, “Is it worth it?” For example, let’s consider a cookie purchased from the grocery store vs. homemade cookies. Usually, homemade cookies are always worth it. On the flip side, I know how typical store bought cookies usually taste and it’s not something that really satisfies me. But, I will typically grab one just because they are there then I get half way through it and ask myself, “Why am I eating this?”. This seems to happen a lot with chips and salsa too. Are they delicious chips and fresh salsa or is just the regular old stuff you’ve always had? Thinking of food this way, especially when there is way too much to choose from at a party, helps me prioritize what I really want and thoroughly enjoy it.
Tip #6: Go easy on yourself and soak up every minute of summer
Yes, all of these tips above will help you stay on track this summer and feel healthier. However, I believe the most important tip is to simply go easy on yourself and soak up every minute of summer with friends and family. Be in the moment. Engage with the people around you and don’t dwell on something if everything doesn’t go as planned. Some days, you might have to miss the gym and that’s ok. Some days you may have had every intention to make a nourishing dinner, but you end up getting takeout instead and that’s ok. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Just move on and remember that it’s the decisions you make over a long period of time that add up to influence your health. So, in this season, do what you can to stay on track and give yourself the leeway for life to happen then roll with it.