Summer is often a time we think of vacations, being off from school, and taking a break, but summer can also be a time to think about self improvement, progress, and a time to strengthen your feelings of well-being.
While having the kids home for the summer can change your daily routine, with adequate planning you can use this time to set new routines. While you are no longer running around getting the kids ready for school, running for the bus, helping with homework, or chauffeuring the kids to and from sporting events, you can use this extra time to concentrate on setting up new routines that focus more on helping you become healthier and more organized. You may even find you have more time to yourself as the kids are at day camp, sleep away camp, or enjoying time at a friend’s house. As you ingrain these new routines into your lifestyle during the summer, they should be easier to maintain when you return to the grind of the school year. Even if you do not have school age children, summer can be good time to begin healthier routines.
We have compiled a list of 5 healthy habits to start or strengthen during the summer:
- Exercise: If you don’t already have an exercise routine, now is the time to start one. During the summer, the bright mornings and later sunsets make it easier for us to exercise outside. It could be as simple as walking, or you may find swimming, tennis, or bike riding enjoyable. Start slowly and set up a regular schedule and stick to it. For example, you may find it’s easiest to walk in the morning before you’ve showered (the kids may even still be sleeping). You could challenge your kids to a game of tennis or basketball a few evenings a week. Mark your exercise schedule on the calendar and treat it as an appointment.
- Plan meals ahead of time: While there is a little less going on at home, use some extra time for meal planning. Try to plan at least a few days’ menus ahead of time, make a list of everything you need from the grocery store, and plan to use your leftovers to turn them into new meals. Quite often in the summer we like to take a break from the heat of the stove or oven. When you are cooking, plan to cook more at a time and use the leftovers creatively. For example, if you roast chicken one night, cook extra and use the leftover chicken for chicken/cheese/vegetable quesadillas the next night. Or, if your problem is buying take out for lunch while you run errands, plan your leftovers for lunchtime. Your roasted chicken dinner leftovers can quickly transform into a quick but filling chicken caesar salad for lunch.
- Incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet: Farmers markets and grocery stores are full of great summer produce. Try to add another fruit and vegetable serving into your diet to replace a more unhealthy choice. For example, instead of reaching for ice cream or other frozen treat for dessert, try replacing that with a mango or kiwi fruit. Both choices are sweet, but the fruit will give you vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber without the added fat and extra calories. Another suggestion is to try wrapping your slider in a crunchy lettuce wrap instead of a starchy bun. A fresh cucumber tomato salad could be crunchy and satisfying with your lunchtime sandwich instead of chips.
- Take some time for you: Set aside a slice of time to concentrate on yourself. It may be a few minutes each day when you have a cup of tea, or during yoga, while you are walking, or when you have a pedicure. When you have a few uninterrupted minutes, use this time to think about your short term and long term goals, assess where you are, reflect on what has worked or how to fix what hasn’t worked, and what you need to do to achieve your goals. Use it as a time for progress and forward momentum to keep you on track for self improvement.
- Slim down your wardrobe: Now that the warm weather is here, you may feel a little less attached to your cold weather clothes. Use this time to go through your closet and drawers and pull out anything you didn’t wear over the fall and winter months. If you didn’t wear the item over the last 6 months, chances are good you won’t wear it again once the weather gets cools down again. While this isn’t a foolproof method (you may not have worn your snow pants if you didn’t see snow), it can be a good rule of thumb. By decluttering your closet and reorganizing your remaining clothes, you may feel lighter or less burdened by your surroundings and have a sense accomplishment. Also, by donating your unwanted clothes to a good charity, you will get the added benefit of helping others.
By exercising, planning, eating better, focusing on your goals, and decluttering during the summer months, you can set yourself up for great achievements during the second half of the year. You may find yourself on a trajectory for self improvement that is motivating to not only you, but people around you.
The above list of healthy summer habits is offered by Dr. Shillingford, M.D., P.A., a board certified general surgeon who specializes in laparoscopic and obesity surgery. Dr. Shillingford’s practice is located in Boca Raton, Florida. His sleeve gastrectomy, gastric bypass, and adjustable lap band patients often come from all over Florida including Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Miami Beach, Wellington, Tampa, West Palm Beach, and Orlando. In addition to offering bariatric surgery and follow up appointments, Dr. Shillingford encourages his patients to make positive changes in their lives to help them achieve their goals.