The heat and subsequent clotheslessness of summer are just around the corner. Now is the time to do some spring cleaning and prepare to showcase your best self, but now is also the time to learn to love who you are and your place in your personal journey too. This could easily turn into an article about bikinis, tanned skin, sculpted abs, and the perfect beach body that will make the opposite sex drool. That’s not where I want to take it though.
Improvement is a good thing. We should all be striving to be healthier, happier, stronger, smarter, and better each day. I read about something new every day. I research constantly. I pick up new hobbies and talents all the time. I’ve also recently begun running three times a week in preparation for summer 5ks, hikes, pool parties, and lakeside camping trips. I believe strongly in progress. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to look a little better for the brightest and warmest time of year as long as we are smart about it and don’t let it consume us.
Can you guess how many pounds I’ve dropped in the last month where I’ve been running 3 miles 3 times a week? Zilch, zero, nada! I’m okay with that. I’m positive I’ve lost a few inches. I also feel stronger, more energetic, and more focused. That is progress, even if it isn’t as visible as I would like. So I’m taking this article in two directions. Work hard to get yourself in better shape for summer and love yourself where you are. They may seem to contradict, but I don’t think they do.
Exercise – Exercise is so much more than a means to a sexier body. Exercise improves mood, releases stress, improves circulation, improves oxygen efficiency, nourishes cells, cleans out toxins, and so much more. Too often we hit exercise too hard when summer starts sneaking up on us, get burnt out, and give up. Start with what you can. If that’s walking for ten minutes, so be it. That is still progress, just build on it with every week until you are doing so much more.
Strengthen – Cardio is great and one of the best ways to lose weight and improve heart health, but strength training exercises are important too. They build muscle, which burns through more calories than other tissues even if it does weigh more. You’ll see yourself slimming even if the scale says you haven’t lost a pound.
Eat Well – Don’t wait for the summer farmers’ markets before you begin eating your fruits and vegetables. Start today. There is a lightness that comes with the healthier summer foods. Those essential vitamins and minerals won’t hurt either.
Lean Protein – You’ll want some quality protein sources when you finish working out. Lean, plant-based protein is a good option and easily added to a post workout smoothie.
Prepare – A goal without a plan surrounding it is never going to succeed. You need to outline the steps you need to follow in order to transform yourself for the better. Write it down and work toward the smaller steps one at a time.
Hydrate – Water is a vital part of every function of the body. Drinking plenty of fresh, clean, filtered water will clear skin, help weight loss, improve digestion, and clear away toxins. Add a slice of lemon if you don’t like plain water. This citrusy, alkalizing addition will do much more than flavor your water anyway. Fresh juices and teas are also beneficial. Ginger and dandelion teas are excellent ways to detox, lose the bloat, eat less, and feel amazing.
Avoid the Process – Processed and refined foods are the enemy of health. They are full of simple sugars and fats without the benefits of fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, and other phytonutrients. Avoid white breads, chips, pastas, sodas, candies, and simple, refined starches and sugars in general.
Laugh Often – A positive attitude can transform the way you look and feel, making you more attractive, likable, and approachable. Even if you don’t reach your perfect goals, your attitude will make up for a large amount. Smile and laugh. Let go of stress and worry so you can enjoy your summer. It also releases endorphins which can aid healthy weight loss.
Get Some Sun – We need a good ten to twenty minutes of sun exposure every day. You don’t have to fry yourself for hours. A perfect golden tan isn’t necessary either to feel good, glow, and flourish this summer. Start now on the nicer days to get what you need instead. Those twenty minutes create plenty of vitamin D, which has been linked to weight loss and mood. Don’t overdo it though. Burning yourself quickly diminishes the returns of vitamin D.
Plan Fun – We often focus on the stress of looking good for summer, when spring and summer should be a time for fun. This fun can make you healthier and thinner for sure, but if you are focused on the work aspect it becomes tedious fast. Hiking, biking, trail running, walking in nature, canoeing, kayaking, dancing, or surfing are good ideas that make exercise fun. Pick up that old soccer ball you’ve left gathering dust in the garage. Go play with the kids. Enjoy yourself and you’ll be surprised at the results.
Love Yourself – Love who you are right now and love who you could become. This is key to healthy weight loss and healthy living. Negative self-image leads to destructive behaviors, including overeating and abusing addictive foods. If you truly want to look your best, you must learn to love yourself at every stage of your journey. You can want to improve yourself and love yourself at the same time.
Forgive Yourself – You will mess up. You will miss a step in your outlined goals. You will eat something you shouldn’t. You will skip an exercise. That’s okay. As long as you don’t let that become the norm, you are still on the right track. There’s no need to beat yourself up over every little mistake. That is a recipe for negativity, which in turn breeds binging on comfort foods. Forgive yourself and move on.
Push Yourself Hard – Sounds like I’m recommending the opposite of the last one, but I’m not. If you want to reach a goal, no matter if you want a perfect bikini body or you want to learn how to paint, you are going to have to work for it. Push yourself each day to be stronger, better, and healthier. Push those exercises past your comfort levels and don’t settle for the usual meals.
Sleep – Get enough rest. Sleep is the time your body cleans out debris and does its repairs. Don’t skimp when it comes to sleeping. Too little sleep also encourages cravings and overeating.
Get a Friend – It is always easier to meet goals, exercise, eat well, and lose weight with a friend who wants the same thing. You can hold each other accountable, encourage and push each other. Admire and celebrate each other’s victories, no matter how large or how small they may appear.