The weather is getting warmer, the days are getting longer and summer planning is in full effect. For most of us, this means an increase in beach days, barbecues, backyard parties, weddings and drinks on the patio.
All of this fun can make it really hard to maintain healthy habits. So here are five simple tricks that will help you keep a healthier lifestyle in check this summer while still soaking up all the awesomeness that this season has to offer.
#1. Meal Plan and Eat Outside
Set aside some time at the start of every week to look at your calendar and plan out your meals. When you leave this simple task undone, it leaves you unprepared and much more likely to be reaching for junk food.
Select meals that use seasonal produce and can be made up in batches so you can eat it throughout the week, like this chickpea, avocado and feta salad. Take your meals outdoors whenever possible. Nature is scientifically proven to do our mental health a ton of good!
#2. Grill Up Some Local Produce!
Nothing makes me happier than fresh, local summer produce. Peaches, nectarines, tomatoes, corn on the cob, oh my! Every week something new is coming into season, so get out there and support your local farmers.
Grilling up vegetables like zucchini, bell peppers, tomato, red onion and mushrooms give them a delicious, smoky flavour and will help to fill up your plate with nutritional goodness. You can throw them directly onto the grill or use a grilling basket. Try tossing them in a bit of olive oil, balsamic vinegar and crumbled goat or feta cheese after grilling for some extra deliciousness.
#3. Infuse Your Water With Seasonal Fruit and Herbs
Be smart about the way you quench your thirst this summer and steer clear of empty calories from things like sugary iced tea and lemonade. Sure that stuff might taste good, but it will only leave you feeling tired and craving more in the end. Instead, stick to water or sparkling water infused with things like grapefruit and thyme, strawberry and lemon, or blueberry and lime.
#4. Contribute Something Nourishing
Summer parties and potlucks are inevitable, and health-consciousness will vary among guests. So make an effort to contribute something to the food table that will help everyone feel amazing mind, body and soul. My go-to is this vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free mac 'n' "cheese." It is always a hit at any party.
#5. Get Your Workout Done First Thing in the Morning
Scheduling time to work out in the summer can be super tricky. But the later in the day you leave your workout, the less likely it is to happen. So set your alarm a bit earlier and get that workout done first thing in the morning. Even a 20-minute jog will help rev up your metabolism for the rest of the day and get those feel-good endorphins flowing. No excuses. Just get up and get it done! You won't regret it.
That Clean Life is a meal planning platform that makes eating healthy simple and fun. Sign up to grab our 21-Day Tune Up Program, three weeks worth of meal plans, grocery lists and prep guides to help get you feeling awesome for summer!
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Of course, you can take a vacation any time of the year. But with school out and the beach calling, many of us opt for a little time off over the summer months. Doing so may be one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Vacations ease stress and improve mood -- even after returning to "real" life. They also seem to protect us from heart disease and heart attacks. And for many people, a little time away brings some added perspective to life and boosts motivation to get back to their goals, US News reported.
Speaking of heart problems: In 2012, researchers noted a significant difference in heart attack survival rates during the winter and the summer. "People are 26 to 36 percent more likely to die in winter from a heart attack, a stroke, heart failure or some other circulatory disease," the study's lead author told NBC News. That doesn't mean you can take a break from regular exercise or your nutritious diet. It's more likely that you've gone full steam ahead on your healthiest habits in the summer, giving your heart added protection, NBC News reported.
Let's face it: Summer is hot. Sometimes, it's even too hot. But when conditions are safe enough for outdoor exercise without risking heat-related illness, one thing's certain: You're most definitely going to sweat. That might sound more unpleasant than anything, but truth is a good sweat can be good for you. While it doesn't exactly detox you, sweating really can help fight infections, since sweat seems to help keep skin clear of bacteria and fungi, according to MSN. Sweating also gives circulation a boost and opens up the pores, which could help your face stay acne-free.
Summer wouldn't be complete without heaping helpings of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, cherries, watermelon -- the list of in-season fruit goes on and on. The best news is these summer picks are as nutritious as they are delicious. All are loaded with antioxidants and vitamins (and flavor!), for very few calories. Blueberries have been linked to lower cholesterol and diabetes risk, raspberries and blackberries are excellent sources of fiber, cherries seem to speed recovery after exercise and curb pain and strawberries may slow cognitive decline with aging. Not to mention fruit is chock-full of water, helping you to stay hydrated on those hot, sweaty days. Fruit salad, anyone?
There aren't too many opportunities to take an outdoor swim during the other three seasons, and we plan to take full advantage. Swimming uses all the muscle groups with minimal impact and improves strength, since the water provides natural resistance, WebMD reported. People with joint pain or arthritis can often participate in water-based exercise more easily -- and without worsening symptoms, according to the CDC. Swimming has also been shown to improve mood and alleviate depression. According to a study published in the International Journal of Aquatic Research and Education, swimmers even have a lower risk of death than runners and walkers. Plus, is it just us, or is there something about swimming that just seems more fun than exercising on land?
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