Summer is the perfect season to get back into shape and burn those unneeded and unwanted pounds that we have put on during the cold winter season. And the best part is that you can do it without having to spend hours on a Stairmaster or exhausting yourself with crunches and push-ups.
Here are 25 fun and easy ways that will help you to lose weight, get fit and look gorgeous in your new swimming suit:
1. Drink plenty of water
The heat outside makes it easy to drink those 8 glasses of water a day that health professionals suggest we should drink. Our body naturally craves fluid to prevent dehydration and maintain the healthy operations of almost all our internal organs. In fact, it has been shown that most of our hunger pangs are caused by dehydration of the body, not by the desire to eat something. So next time, you feel hungry, drink a glass of water and see if your hunger goes away.
2. Avoid diuretics
Most high-calorie beverages like soda, juices, sugared iced tea, coffee or alcohol instead of hydrating us and quenching our thirst during hot summer days, work as diuretics (which means that they increase the excretion of water from the body), dehydrating us even more. No matter what TV ads tell you, there is nothing better than a glass of water with lemon to quench thirst and detoxify your body.
3. Start your day with a nutritiously-delicious breakfast
If you are one of those people, who regularly rush out of the house without eating breakfast, you might want to reconsider. In fact, there are some very compelling reasons to make breakfast the most important meal of the day.
Research has shown that in the morning our levels of blood sugar are seriously low and skipping breakfast can backfire on us later in the day with lack of energy, poor concentration, headaches and dizziness. However, starting your day with doughnuts, chocolate bars, pancakes, Sausage McMuffin (or almost any other dish from a fast food menu) is not particularly healthy either. While all these items may increase your blood sugar, they contain plenty of fat and very little nutrients, which lead to weight gain, decrease in energy and a foul mood. Therefore, to feel great, incorporate fresh fruits, berries, nuts, yogurt, oatmeal and natural juices into your breakfast menu.
4. Get more sun to get fit
There is some scientific evidence that says serotonin plays an important role in regulating appetite and mood. It means that boosting your levels of serotonin can leave you feeling happier and noticeably lower your appetite, especially by reducing cravings for foods that are high in carbohydrates. The production of serotonin, in turn, is closely linked with the amount of natural sun that we receive. This is one of the reasons why we eat more during the cold winter months and less in summer.
There are also a number of foods that help to increase the serotonin levels in our blood. Some of the most popular ones are bananas, wheat germ, cottage cheese, turkey, flaxseed oil, and dark chocolate! So in order to lose those extra pounds, grab a banana and hit the beach.
5. Take a romantic walk on the beach
Research has shown that walking as little as 30-60 minutes a day can help you to lose weight, without having to change any other part of our daily routine.
6. Go Shopping!
The latest study conducted by the Golden Square Shopping Centre has estimated that the average female shopper walks 2.02 miles while choosing their purchases. As walking a mile burns around 100 calories, you can easily burn more than 200 calories per shopping trip (which adds up to 12,120 calories per year). So if you like shopping now you have a perfect excuse to spend Saturday afternoon at the mall – you actually do it to get fit!
7. Find a hobby!
Do you know how they say that you should never mix business and pleasure? A hobby is one of those rare exceptions, when you can combine both – you can do something that you enjoy doing, while toning up your muscles and getting slimmer. And this is not all! The latest research has proved that having a hobby can improve your immune system and decrease the production of the stress hormone – cortisol, which through a series of chemical processes increases the appetite. Maybe that is why when we are doing something very entertaining, we lose track of time and forget about food!
8. Ride a bike instead of driving a car on the weekends
Here is why you should leave your car in a parking lot on the weekend and ride a bike instead: 1) it allows you to save money on gas, 2) you get outdoors and enjoy the warm weather, 3) you get your exercise without even noticing it. It has been shown that an average person, riding at a leisurely pace (10-12mph) for an hour can easily burn 423 calories!
9. Play Frisbee
Frisbee is not only a fun low-cost sport and a great opportunity to meet new people; it is also wonderful exercise that allows you to burn around 360 calories in just 30 minutes!
10. Go swimming!
Swimming is known as one of the best aerobic exercises, because it tones your muscles and promotes flexibility, while being gentle on your body. If you have a bad back or knee pain, this is a perfect alternative for you to stay fit and burn those extra calories.
11. Check out Canoeing and kayaking
This is a fun and entertaining summer sport that you can do together with your friends and family members. And the best part is that you are getting a great upper body and back workout, without even noticing it!
12. Laugh those calories off.
Laughing full-heartedly might not fully replace your workout time, but it does help to improve your immune system, lower blood pressure and burn some calories. Therefore, laugh more and get slimmer and healthier!
13. Add cinnamon to meals
Research shows that adding cinnamon to your food helps you feel fuller over longer periods of time. Adding as much as 2 teaspoons of cinnamon to your rice pudding, muesli, or oatmeal can lower your blood-sugar levels and delay the sense of hunger.
14. Is it hunger or a habit?
We are creatures of habit and many foods and drinks are part of our rituals and habitual situations. We feel like munching when we watch a movie not because we are hungry, but because munching has become a habit. The first step to changing such habits is to become aware of them. Next time you are about to grab a chocolate bar or a bag of chips, ask yourself “Am I really hungry?” If not your desire to snack on something can be triggered by “emotional hunger”, habit, boredom, stress, depression, or, as I mentioned earlier, simple thirst.
15. Burn calories by eating at regular times during the day
This is more important than most of us think. Eating at regular times allows your body to prepare for the meal in advance, which increases your metabolism and decreases your possibilities of overeating.
Note: Our metabolism is at its highest from 12 to 2 p.m. This is when we should eat our most substantial meal.
16. Tame your hunger by serving your meals on smaller plates
According to statistics the amount of food that we put on our plates, both in restaurants and at home has grown by 30%! The main reason – bigger plates. Therefore, if you are cooking at home, serve your meal on smaller plates and if you are eating out, ask for to-go box right away and box 1/3 of your meal right away.
17. Do not be afraid to leave food on your plate
I know that my mom would strongly disagree with me on this one. She, just like most of us, was brought up with a belief that no food should be left on a plate or thrown away. And while it is a great belief that goes back to the times when food was scarce, many studies show that eating past being “full” – just cleaning your plate, can lead to some serious health issues (weight gain being one of them). Your stomach knows when stop. Listen to it! By finishing those few last bites that you really did not want to eat, you are not saving any money or helping starving children in Africa. All you are doing is deliberately forcing yourself to overeat and gain weight.
18. Do not drink cold water with your meals
A glass of ice-cold water on a hot summer’s day can seem very appealing. However, the problem with drinking cold water with or immediately after your meal is that it solidifies other liquid products in our stomach like butter, cheese, fats from meat, making it much harder for our stomach to digest them. This often leads to discomfort, indigestion and weight gain. The best way to keep your body hydrated is to have a glass of tepid water 15-20 minutes before eating and follow your meal with a cup of hot herbal tea or a decaf coffee.
19. Switch off your TV for a few hours
Watching TV at home on a great summer’s day is the worst use of your time, and, as a matter of fact, the worst health choice that you can make. According to new research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, overweight adults who cut TV watching by half over three weeks, burnt off an extra 119 calories a day! Which means that by turning off your TV for a few hours a day you can lose around 12 pounds in a year without having to change anything else in your daily routine.
20. If you have to watch TV, do it smartly!
Instead of half-lying on the sofa while watching your favorite TV shows, sit on a stability ball (also known as a Swiss ball). It will help you to work your core muscles, strengthen your abs and lower back. And all you have to do is to sit on the ball with your feet hip-width apart while keeping your spine and lower back aligned.
21. Go dancing!
Dancing is another great way to trim those extra pounds and tighten major muscle groups. Even a 30 minute session of sustained dancing can burn as many calories as swimming or bike riding. And all you have to do is lose yourself in the music and have fun!
22. Rediscover gardening!
Put in a flower bed, plant tomatoes and place mulch around trees, and besides being a serious workout, you will actually have something to show at the end of the day for your efforts.
23. Walk your dog
Taking your dog for a walk, or better yet a run, can be beneficial for both of you. According to the RSPCA, obesity and weight gain is not just our problem. It is affecting our pets too. Statistic shows that over than 40% of dogs are overweight or obese, so they, too, can benefit from running and playing outside.
24. Play computer games
If you have a Nintendo Wii Fit and Balance Board, use it more often, because it can be a great way to lose weight and get some exercise, without having to leave your house. It has been proven that by playing “active” video games, where you have to move around just 30 minutes a day, you and your children can burn three times more calories than by playing regular video games. Now Wii also offers the latest fitness accessories like calorie counter, balance games, yoga, and strength training games that are designed to help you get in shape easier.
25. Hang out with people, who lead a healthy lifestyle
A study in the New England Journal of Medicine discovered your chances of becoming obese increase by 57% if your friend is becoming obese. This could mean that if you spend more time with people, who make healthy food choices, and exercise regularly, their enthusiasm, positive beliefs and healthy lifestyle will be projected on you as well and soon you will find yourself eating healthier and getting slimmer every single day.