5 Healthy Habits for Summer Days and Nights

The anticipation is over. Summer is finally here! Long overdue vacations with friends and family have finally arrived. Long, warm, sunny days replace the short dreary days of winter. But even as hot beach days and cool ocean swims put a smile on our faces, we can't help but worry at the thought of showing more skin. As barbecues, art fairs and outdoor events boast delicious seasonal food, we still feel the pressure to lose weight.

Quite the contradiction, right?

There is an easy way to boost your confidence while continuing to take care of your body during the summer. The key is to make sure to engage in activities that create happiness in your life, while also being conscious of the things your body needs. By keeping these small tips in mind and knowing that you have the capability to be the best version of yourself, a memorable summer awaits.

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

Water is a crucial component to the summer experience in more ways than you might think. Water accounts for about 60 percent of the human body, making it an essential fluid. Water drives physiological processes such as digestion and controls our body's internal temperature through perspiration. Warmer summer temperatures cause our bodies to work harder to stay cool, resulting in an increased loss of hydration. To prevent excessive fluid loss, drink a minimum of 64 ounces per day. Increase this number by 8 ounces with each added hour of physical activity.

Try Cooler Workouts

Hot temperatures affect performance, putting additional stress on the body. Try to wear light, loose clothing that allows you to stay dry and cool. If not, the increased temperatures and decreased hydration could result in fatigue and muscle cramping.

Eat Like It's Summer

Lots of great fresh produce is now in season! Add tomatoes, watermelon and strawberries to dishes to increase flavor and variety for your barbecue spread. Substitute a tempting ice cream cone for a cool cup of berry-topped frozen yogurt. Or, whip up a festive salsa with delicious mango and black beans.

The "Summer Diet"

At any summer gathering, be mindful of portion sizes and incorporate healthy and fibrous foods such as kale salad or summer squash before diving into a hot dog. Filling up with low-calorie options before a calorie-dense food will cause you to eat less of the not-so-healthy item. Be inspired to take on new healthy habits and surround yourself with people that support and share your health goals. It's easier to stay on track when you have friends who also create healthful picnic foods and are eager to follow up a meal with a volleyball game!

Remember to Rest

The action-packed days of summer can sometimes make sleep feel unnecessary. You may find yourself staying up later as the days are longer or taking mid-afternoon naps to gear up for an evening dinner party. But this sporadic sleep schedule can lead to exhaustion if it interrupts your normal sleep routine. Continue to aim for 8 to 9 hours of sleep per night. According to Meir Kryger, MD, from the National Sleep Foundation, this prolonged season is the prime opportunity to rejuvenate and develop a healthy sleep schedule.

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Ashley Lytwyn, MS, RDN
Ashley Lytwyn, MS, RDN, is a Southern California-based dietitian, speaker and writer. Read her blog, Nutrition Unveiled, and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.