Spring break peaking around the corner and the countdown to summer has begun! The freedom, sun, being tan, and joy of hanging out with friends. For some their focus is on getting their summer body ready for the beach, the pool, or just being outdoors. People have their own ways of preparing themselves for summer; some more practical and healthier than other. What most do not realize is that there are easy ways to “jump-start” a healthy routine that will make being healthy and fit easier. You don’t need to spend hours at the gym…Although it is recommended to get some cardiovascular work in everyday (because it helps boost your metabolism), however concentrating on what you eat goes a long way. With that…Here are the 15 TOP diet tips to help you get ready for summer:
- Drink plenty of water or other calorie-free beverages. The calories we consume while drinking (non-alcoholic) is often overlooked. If you are looking to diet, it is best to either drink water or if you do not like water you can always add in a drink mixture (try brew infused teas such as mango or peach).
- Think about what you can add to your diet, not take away. A starting place to check your diet is your servings of fruits and vegetables. Focus on getting the recommended 5-9 servings. It seems like a lot, but a flat stomach isn’t completely made in the gym but in the kitchen too.
- Consider whether you’re really hungry. Whenever you are hungry look for the physical signs of hunger. Hunger is your body’s way of telling you that you need fuel, when you get a craving that isn’t from hunger eating won’t satisfy it. Keep your portions reasonable, only eat what you need and you should not feel stuffed, bloated, or tired following a meal or snack.
- Be choosy about nighttime snacks. After dinner always seems to bring about mindless eating. Often we sit down in front of the TV or computer and nonchalantly grab a snack even though we are not hungry, this is often called eating amnesia. Try closing down the kitchen after a certain hour and if you do feel the desire to snack, look for something that is low in calories.
- Enjoy your favorite foods. Cutting out your favorite food, in the long run, won’t help. Once you “treat” yourself to it, you will end up overeating. Instead, enjoy your favorite food in moderation.
- Enjoy your treats away from home. Rather than keeping treats in the house, plan a day out and get that treat you desire. This eliminates the temptation of eating that same treat when it is in the house. Plus…going out will help increase your activity and encourage weight loss.
- Eat several mini-meals during the day. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. If you find yourself constantly hungry however, eating fewer calories can be challenging. Try dividing your daily calories into smaller meals or snacks, eat more in the beginning of your day and let supper be your last meal.
- Add protein to every meal. Protein is more satisfying than fats or carbohydrates. Getting enough protein helps preserve muscle mass and encourages fat burning while keeping you full. Good sources of protein are yogurt, cheese, beans, or nuts.
- Spice it up. Add spices or Chile peppers to your food for a flavor boost to help you feel more satisfied. Foods with a lot of flavor stimulate your taste buds and are more satisfying so you won’t eat as much.
- Stock your kitchen with healthy convenient foods. Ready-to-eat snacks and meals-in-minutes sets you up for success. Having food ready will help curb your desire to hit a drive-thru and grab a quick, unhealthy snack. Try loading your kitchen with frozen vegetables, prewashed greens, canned beans, whole-grain wraps, precooked grilled chicken breasts, and other items that can be simply thrown together.
- Order from the children’s or senior’s menu. When eating out, ordering a child or senior sized portions are an easy way to cut calories. Restaurant plates are proportional to portion sizes and this can cause us to overeat. Another trick is to use smaller plates; this makes the portion size look smaller and tricks your mind into being satisfied sooner.
- Eat foods that are in season. Seasonal fruits are more flavorful and satisfying. You may not like a particular fruit or vegetable but try it when it is in season and you may just change your mind.
- Swap a cup of pasta for a cup of vegetables. By eating less pasta or breads and substituting more vegetables, you could potentially lose a dress or pant size in a year. You can save roughly 100-200 calories if you decrease the amount of starch on your plate and increase the amount of vegetables.
- Use non-food alternatives to cope with stress. Instead of turning to food for comfort, try another alternative that works for you; reading a few chapters in a book, going for a walk or run, listen to music, write in a journal, or just practice deep breathing techniques.
- Be physically active. Being physically active boosts your metabolism, makes you feel good, helps you sleep better at night, and gives you more energy throughout the day. Whether you’re trying to lose weight or not, physical activity is beneficial. However, do not use exercise as an excuse to eat more or as a punishment for eating. Eating healthy and working out go hand-in-hand and help you manage your weight! A little exercise goes a long way! So get on out there and put your body to work…You will feel much better afterwards.
These are just a few helpful hints to help kick-start a healthier, better you! There are tons of websites out there that offer tips for eating, working out, and being healthy. Try womenshealthmag.com and menshealth.com. Both provide coverage on fitness, health, nutrition, weight loss, and much more! Once you get a better understanding of the steps you can take to be healthy and fit, it will be easier for you to succeed at achieving that body or lifestyle you have always wanted!
“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.” ~ Jim Rohn