Summer. The official season of "real" excuses to eat junk food and lay around. The heat, the camping, the family and friends visiting, the kids home from school. You have a summertime excuse, I've heard it. I've, in most cases, used the same excuses.
The late part of June and the first half of July were well, gluttonous, to say the least. I drank whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I ate the same way. Workouts were done with half an effort, if done at all. By the middle of July I felt terrible, had very little energy and didn't want my photo taken because, well, my confidence and self-love had plummeted.
It was time for me to get back on the bandwagon. It was time for me to start fuelling my body the way it deserves, move my body the way it wants to move and hydrate (that means with water, not Palm Bays) the way it needs to be hydrated.
It's your turn. It's time for you to remember the purpose of physical activity and eating nutritiously. The purpose isn't to lose weight, lose inches or look good in a bikini (you look amazing by the way, no matter what size you are). The purpose of exercise and healthy eating is for your health, to give you energy, to respect your body and to build self-confidence.
Think of how awful you could feel if you keep on this path for four more weeks.
If you're feeling lethargic, if you're self-deprecating every time you put shorts on, if you just feel "gross," it's time to re-focus and get back on track. Don't wait until September (notoriously known as the month of "getting back into routine") if you feel terrible today. Think of how awful you could feel if you keep on this path for four more weeks.
There are things you can start doing today to help you feel better in five days. Honest. In five days, if you do even some of the suggestions below, you'll have more energy, you'll sleep better and in a month you'll be so grateful that you started now and didn't wait.
1. Up your water game
Treat yourself to a new water bottle and focus on water intake. Make a jug of ginger, mint lemon water every evening, pop it in the fridge and make sure it's gone by the end of the next day. Typically, when you go off the fitness and nutrition rails, you send yourself into chronic dehydration. Summertime heat will also wreak havoc on your hydration levels, so it's time to fill up on water. Not only will it hydrate you, but it's going to help fill you up, because baby, it's time to stop the snack attacks.
2. Stop eating whatever you want!
This may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to stop giving yourself permission to put food in your mouth. Stop telling yourself that it's summertime and ice cream every day is fine. Stop telling yourself that five s'mores is OK because you're camping. It's not OK. So knock it off. Stop giving yourself permission to poison your body. Your goal now is to have periods of two hours where you're not putting anything in your mouth except water. Every two hours you're going to have a healthy meal or snack. But there MUST be two hours where no food passes your lips.
3. Say no to alcohol
I know, I know, it's summertime and it's hot and there's nothing better than a cool drink after work or around the campfire. I get it. But, it's not good for you. Limit alcohol intake to two days per week. Each drink you have adds anywhere from 150 to 600 calories (that 10oz margarita you've been having has over 550 calories) to your daily caloric intake. Again, stop giving yourself permission to drink. Choose two days per week that you'll have your favourite summertime beverage and stick to those days. The other days, you drink water. Oh, and limit intake to two drinks.
4. Commit to moving your body
Sit down and decide how many time per week you're going to commit to exercise. I realize summer is busy and schedules are a little nutty, but you need to carve out time for exercise. You can find super quick (I'm talking less than 30 minutes) workouts that are effective and fun. I recommend you shoot for at least three workouts per week, but I encourage you to do five. The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology recommends 60 minutes of physical activity per day seven days a week. Yes, seven. But, I don't want to overwhelm you. So for August, shoot for three to five days of being physically active. We'll get to seven in September.
5. Find a fitness challenge
Sometimes all you need is a challenge to reset your focus. There are numerous fitness challenges out there to choose from. I find that if you commit to a fitness challenge, the daily reminder to get your butt moving and doing something active each day helps focus the mind on staying healthy and active. Hot Mama's 28-Day Challenge is a good place to start; it includes a lower-body exercise, an upper body exercise and a little cardio. Remember, for most challenges the goal is to complete a set number of reps, so you don't need to do all the reps at once. Break up the challenge throughout your day and modify the exercise so you're doing them correctly to prevent injury.
Living a healthy lifestyle just feels better. Food is meant to nourish and energize, but it can only do that if you're eating in a healthy way. Your body is meant to move, so move it! Stop giving yourself permission to be a glutton and focus on the benefits of physical activity and a balanced diet. If you commit to the above five recommendations, you'll absolutely feel better in as little as five days.
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