The summer months bring warmer temps and longer days, in addition to changes in schedules and routines. For many, it’s an opportunity to get outdoors and enjoy warm weather activities such as swimming, boating, hiking, and gardening. For others, blistering heat makes it necessary to hibernate during the majority of the day. Kiddos are out of school. Nighttime and weekend activities may include softball tournaments. For families, summer includes vacations and cookouts. These changes can make it challenging to stay focused on health and wellness goals.
My husband and I recently came back from my sister in-law’s wedding in Maryland. We spent a fabulous week celebrating with family and friends. There was much eating, drinking, and merriment. Fortunately, the weather was conducive to long walks. After a fun filled week, it was time to get back to reality and a 5 pound weight gain. Do I regret overindulging in food and cocktails? Not a bit. Am I delighted with my weight gain? Absolutely not! However, I have a plan for quickly getting back on track.
Whether you’re returning from vacation or acclimating to a summer schedule, the following tips will help you stay focused and get back on track after a set-back…
1) Routine, routine, routine – The secret to success is routine. If your exercise routine has been to take a walk after work, the higher temps may make this unrealistic. An alternative would be to get up earlier in the morning, before sunrise, to take your walk. If you’re not a morning person, finding another activity that you enjoy, indoors or in the water, may be the answer. Set a realistic goal. How many days/week will you be active? What day’s work best with your schedule? What time will you exercise and for how long? What will you do? Who will you do it with (it’s okay if it’s just you)? Put your exercise clothes in a gym bag in your car, or place them by your bed, so they’re easy to access. Once you’ve set a realistic goal, schedule it! Set a reminder on your phone or smartwatch. With repetition, your new routine will become a habit.
2) Establish a sleep schedule – If it’s necessary to get up earlier in the morning, in order to be active, adjust your bedtime routine accordingly. What time do you need to be in bed by, in order to get 7-9 hours of rest? It may mean that you’re beginning your nighttime ritual 30-45 minutes earlier. Set an alarm on your phone or smartwatch, to remind you of the new time. Since the days are longer in the summer, it may be dusk when you get to bed. If your bedroom is not dark enough, consider wearing a comfortable eye mask.
3) Meal planning – Determine a day/time that you’ll plan your meals for the week, make a grocery list, and go shopping. The last day of our vacation, my husband placed a grocery order for delivery, the day we returned. We were able to focus on laundry and work, instead of going to the grocery store. It saved time, and we had a well stocked fridge of healthy food by mid morning. Having the right foods available makes it easier to make better choices.
4) Drink your water – Warmer temperatures can cause dehydration. If you spend a lot of time outdoors and are active, increase your water intake. When you travel, especially by airplane, it’s easy to become dehydrated. Reduce the amount of alcoholic beverages and caffeine on travel days. Drink at least 64 ounces of water. Your urine should be clear or very light yellow. Not only is water the best way to hydrate, but it flushes toxins from your body.
5) Be Kind to Yourself – If you’ve had a setback, due to a change in schedule or an indulgent vacation, give yourself some grace. Beating yourself up won’t make you feel any better. If you’re having difficulty getting back on track, reach out to a supportive friend or family member. It’s never too late to reset. Start with your next meal. You’ve got this!