Do you wait for a new year to begin to set health goals? What if we told you that you could make resolutions on January 1 or June 1 with the same success? That’s because resolutions aren’t just for the new year. Summer is the perfect time to take another step in the right direction with your health.
Whether you want to eat better, move more or simply stay well this season, Teladoc staff Registered Dietitians Michelle Buelow and Amy Margulies share their go-to guide to help you reach your summer goals.
Drill deeper into your thoughts and feelings about your health before getting into the nitty-gritty details of how you will get there. Take time to journal, think or discuss your thoughts on the following prompts:
What concerns you most about your health?
How would improving your health change your life?
What would a healthier you look and feel like?
By the end of the summer, what would you want to be different regarding your day-to-day health?
It’s essential to think about why you want to make a change. Who or what are you doing it for? Finding your motivation for change can help you stick to your goals when the going gets tough.
“For example, if you want to garden more, you might think, ‘I want to garden to enjoy the beauty of the outdoors and add nutritious vegetables and diverse flavors to my meals,’” said Michelle.
Once you figure out your motivators, remind yourself of your reasons often. Create a vision board or hang photos or motivational quotes in highly visible places.
It can feel overwhelming if you set too many goals at once, making it harder to stick to them. A good rule of thumb is to focus on no more than two or three goals at a time.
Use the SMART framework to help you. Make sure your goals are:
“Continuing with the gardening example, a SMART goal could look like this: Once my vegetables are ready to harvest, I will add one vegetable to my dinner for at least three dinners each week,” said Michelle.
If you want to eat better this season, here are three simple ways to get started.
Whether on vacation, at a cookout or just in your kitchen, you can follow an easy formula to create a healthy plate. A nine-inch plate (which is smaller than the standard 11-12 inch dinner plate) can help you stick to healthy portion sizes.
Fill 50% of your plate with non-starchy vegetables, like a colorful salad, grilled veggies or tomato and onion slices
Make 25% of your plate whole grains, fruits and starchy vegetables, like corn on the cob, a small baked potato or pasta salad
Round out the last 25% of your plate with lean protein, like a turkey burger, grilled fish or tofu kebabs
Add healthy fats like avocado, nuts and olive oil to your meal if you have the opportunity. Typical portion sizes for healthy fats include:
Oils: 1 teaspoon
Nuts: 1 ounce
Seeds: 2 tablespoons
Nut butters: 2 tablespoons
Avocado: ¼ of an avocado
Warmer weather means you need more fluids to stay hydrated, especially if you’re exercising or sweating more.
Amy’s tips to help you sip throughout the day include:
Keep a filled glass with you so you have a visual reminder to drink.
Pour yourself a glass of water with breakfast, lunch and dinner. Use mealtime as your cue to sip.
Set a timer on your phone as a reminder to take a sip. The ringing will make it hard to forget!
Mix it up with sparkling water or add fresh produce to your water for more flavor. Some ideas include lemon, orange or lime slices, cucumber, fresh or frozen berries or even a sprig of mint or rosemary.
Make sure you have a clean, durable water bottle to toss into your bag if you’re on the go. Always fill your bottle and keep it next to your keys so you can quickly grab it on the way out the door. You’ll be guaranteed fresh water when you’re out and about.
Keep the phrase “progress, not perfection” in mind as you focus on staying hydrated.
Enjoy the flavors and nutrients of in-season produce when you shop at your local farmers market, tend to your food garden or hit the grocery store. “Choosing seasonal produce provides optimal flavor, quality and nutrient content. It is cost-effective and environmentally friendly too,” said Amy.
In-season summer produce includes peaches, melons, cherries, zucchini and yellow (summer) squash, tomatoes, corn, green beans, cucumbers, blueberries, eggplant and bell peppers.
To find seasonal produce, Michelle recommends:
Joining a local CSA (community-supported agriculture)
Looking for stickers or signs at the grocery store that tell you where the food was grown
Shopping at a nearby farmers market
Visiting roadside fruit and vegetable stands
Planting your own fruits and vegetables in a garden or containers
Talk to a dietitian
Warmer weather and longer days make it easier to get outdoors and exercise. Take advantage of the season while exercising safely with these tips.
Get outside to enjoy the warmer temps, the mood boost and the dozens of new ways you can get moving.
“Summer provides several new opportunities for exercising, such as golfing, boating, camping, outdoor yoga, rollerblading or fishing, and can also include tasks around the house such as landscaping or gardening,” said Michelle.
N.E.A.T. stands for non-exercise activity thermogenesis. More simply put, it’s the energy you expend on activities you do each day outside of a workout. “Increasing your N.E.A.T. can help support your metabolism and feel more health benefits from upping your activity,” said Amy.
Ways you can make the most of your non-exercising hours:
Walk to go to lunch or dinner instead of driving
Take the stairs instead of the elevator
Host a walking meeting at work
Park farther away from the store
Bike to work
Do strength exercises while you’re watching TV
Get off the train or bus one stop earlier
Walk around during phone calls instead of sitting
“10 a.m. to 3 p.m. is known for being the hottest time of the day in the summer. Try to get your workout in before or after,” said Amy.
Carry a water bottle with you when you’re exercising outdoors. And don’t hesitate to exercise inside if it’s too hot. For this reason, it’s best to check the weather before heading out in case there’s an excessive heat warning, when it’s safest to stay indoors.
As you work to up your exercise routine, listening to your body and increasing your intensity over time is important.
Whether you’re exercising or just out in the heat, take a break if you begin to feel dizzy, nauseated or tired. “Assess if you need water or food or just a few minutes of rest, but be sure to avoid overdoing it,” said Amy.
A Teladoc dietitian can help you take the next step for your health. Our network of 150-plus expert registered dietitians will customize a nutrition plan and help you meet your summer health goals.
Choose your dietitian, make your wwusa account and start improving your health today.