BBQs and Bikes: 11 Tips for Your Healthiest Summer Yet

I am going to let you in on a secret: I used to hate summer. The facts: I was born in February, would anxiously watch for the lightest trace of snow, obsessed over boots, and gave up coffee for hot chocolate. Yup. True winter baby.

Until summer 2013 when I: discovered Flywheel, completed my first half-marathon, and was already down 19 pounds from my starting weight. I was feeling myself and I was feeling everything about summer: the sunny weather, the beach trips, the crop tops, the family cook outs… So why in the world did I ever hate– wait… despise— summer?

Because I hated shorts.

Or well actually I hated my legs in shorts and I hated being that awkward girl in Union Square Park wearing a hoodie in 95 degree weather because boys wouldn’t like my “arm flab.” And I hated summer BBQs because wanting a hamburger made me feel guilty, especially when I remembered how often my parents would tell me I needed to watch my weight so I could continue to fit through the door. *Ouch*

These days, I still love snow and cute boots and hot chocolate but none of it beats being in the sun. Summer can actually be one of the best times to start your fitness journey: your whole town becomes a playground (whether you’re in a city or in the suburbs), you can encourage friends and family to enjoy the nice weather with you, and the Vitamin D from the sun can help you feel energized enough to tackle your heart’s wildest dreams!

So, how can you too become a fan of summer and enjoy a healthy lifestyle while doing it? Here are 11 tips for summer fit:

  1. Enjoy the Celebrations

    What do you think about when you think about summer? Do you think about cool breezes blowing through your bangs and mojitos on your favorite rooftop bar? Or maybe you get excited for those major surf waves and lying under palm trees. All those happy thoughts? That’s what summer is all about! When you look back on your summers, you’ll remember the wonderful memories you made instead of that slice of apple pie you had one too many slices of. Use your energy for positive thinking and to instill new habits!

  2. Wrangle The Family

    Post hot dogs and potato salad is the perfect time to catch up with your favorite cousin or take the family pup for a long walk. Inviting your family and friends to move with you could be as simple (and fun!) as putting on that new Marc Anthony track and salsa-ing the whole night away.

  3. Clear Some Space

    Having a healthy summer goes beyond just bathing suits and your grandmother’s yummy brisket. A healthy summer is also about clearing your head, and making space for a more positive (and productive) end of the year! Carving out time to participate in your favorite hobbies and past times or picking up new ones can be  a great way to re-focus your energy. Be selfish if you have to and don’t be afraid to take time out for yourself. Sometimes saying no to your best friend’s happy hour, or spending a few less hours with your S.O. to hit the gym is exactly what you need. Other times, you need the exact opposite!

  4. Listen To Your Inner Voice

    You know the one. It nudges you to stop when you’re eating something mid-guilt trip or when you’ve neglected your needs. The voice asking you to listen — as in “we’ve already hit the gym every day for the past 6 months, I promise you we won’t gain 30 pounds if we miss one day.” You’ll be better at making positive choices by learning to listen to your body’s cues. You’ll learn to zero in on your favorite food choices (making it easier to say no to the cheesecake you really dislike) and zero in on how to find your way back to center.

  5. Revel In The Current Fashion Trends

    Not the ones on the runway, the ones in the gym! One of the best ways to truly enjoy a fit and healthy summer is to update your Fitness wardrobe. I love buying new Fitness apparel, because I am always so motivated to start using it– plus, what better way to bench than in a sick new racerback? Am I right?

  6. Make It Yourself!

    A craving for Japanese food a few weeks back resulted in a delicious plate of rice, edamame and “katsu” pork– made right at home. Instead of delivery, try your hand at a new recipe. Not only will you add new dishes to your arsenal, but you’ll also have more control over the nutritional profile of your meals. Burgers and fries coming right up!

  7. Share It

    If you’re in the mood for just a little bit of a treat, why not split it? There are some days when I crave a milkshake but don’t want to drink an entire one by myself. I want a small taste of the treat. Sharing with a friend can help you quiet cravings while also helping you be more conscious of your desired portions!

  8. Don’t Turn The Words of Others Onto Yourself

    “Oh no.” I heard a female co-worker say, “I can’t eat that. Otherwise I’ll never fit in my bikini this summer.” Sad face. Whereas in past years I might have turned her words onto myself I was much more aware this time around about being gentle with myself. I don’t want to miss out on a really good slice of Red Velvet cake because I am worrying about where on my hips it will go. Be conscious of your goals but don’t let them turn into negativity or self-deprecation.

  9. Make It An Experience (Wherever You Are)

    This summer why not shake things up by signing up for your organization’s Miles Challenge, trying a new distance or asking a friend to join their gym sessions? When a best friend asked to join my runs I welcomed the change. Those runs have been some of the best runs I have had in quite some time! One of them even ended with quality time over a huge cone of yummy Smorgasburg fries— turning a regular running date into a fun hangout session!

  10. Do What Works For You

    This is where #4 becomes really important. I learned very quickly I enjoy cooking, but also want to enjoy fast food with family and friends. So rather than torture myself with a “no junk ever again” approach, like I used to, I instead aim to eat intuitively. Or for example, I no longer make it a requirement that I have to go to the gym six times a week to be “healthy” and “fit.” I know maintaining a 4-5 day workout schedule can be just as effective.

  11. Forgive Yourself

    Out of all 11 tips, this is the most important one. It’s probably also the hardest. Listen, I know the need to make this summer “the summer you eat perfectly and not gain a pound” or “the summer you work out every day and make a commitment to your health” but reality is: setbacks happen. And you will make mistakes. But that’s ok! That’s life! Instead of being hung up on what you didn’t do you can actually focus on improving. Why wallow when you can become unstoppable instead?

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