1) Take a walk. In the northeast we only get a few months of long days, warm nights and rain free weather, so take advantage of it. After dinner take a long leisurely stroll. Walk with a dog, friend or significant other because having someone else to talk to will make the time fly by and talking has been shown to increase endorphins and make us feel happier. By walking you will burn excess calories and be distracted from after dinner snacking.
2) Switch soda for water with lemon or iced tea. I am a huge iced tea fan (unsweetened) and actually drink this all year long, but I know some people associate iced tea with being a summer beverage. Unsweetened tea doesn't have any calories and has a bit more flavor than water with lemon, both pluses in my book. Cutting out the sugar and caffeine from soda will help you drop weight and feel energized.
3) Eat fresh, local fruits and veggies. I love summer because of the excess of fresh local veggies and fruits. I try to eat organic fruits/veggies when possible (they can be expensive), and enjoy weekend trips to the local Schenectady farmer's market. I was also considering joining a local CSA (community sustained agriculture), where you pick up a set amount of fresh produce every week! If you have any favorite recipes make sure to send them my way and I'll be sure to post them.
4) Try a new sport, or play an old favorite. Again take advantage of the great weather and go outside and play. Just like with your after dinner walk, being outdoors and enjoying a pickup game of football, throwing the Frisbee around, or playing catch will burn calories and keep you from being glued to the TV inside. Look up local adult sports clubs and consider joining one. I personally look forward to horseback riding more this summer.
5) Lastly, remember to relax! Being stressed, along with many other negative impacts on your health, causes us to produce cortisol which makes it harder to lose weight. If you’re always on the run, try to schedule 15-20 minutes to just relax, with no TV, cell phone, kids, or distractions. Concentrate on your breathing and zone everything else out. You will be amazed at how this small bit of time can make a huge impact on your mood. Also consider joining a yoga or meditation class, both are fun and will encourage you to set aside time for yourself.
Being active, consuming less sugar, caffeine, and processed foods will all help to make us feel and function better. Remember that if you are going to consider any of my suggestions above, make sure to do it for the right reasons and to start small. Don't go for a 5 mile walk if you’re not used to exercising or start a diet of raw veggies and water if you usually eat lots of carbs. Start small, try a 1/2 mile walk or add in a few new fruits/veggies before you start to take out foods from your diet. Starting small gives your body time to adapt to change and will increase your chances of making good life style changes. Now stop reading this blog and go outside!