Summer – that time of year where we tend to wear a bit less clothing and even break out swimsuits – officially starts on Monday, June 20th, and if you’ve been blowing your diet or workout routine lately, there’s only one thing you can do right about now:
Only kidding… But that feeling is pretty common. And we usually make it worse by following some extreme program in a futile effort to quickly right a wrong – even if that wrong has been months or years in the making.
Truth is, those extra pounds and that extra pudge didn’t come from having an occasional donut. It came from consistently eating donuts (or following some other less than optimal behavior patterns) over a long period of time.
So, how do we break that cycle and improve how we look and feel? Easy. Go back to the basics. Make things simple. Put your time, effort and energy into these four key components of good health – those simple things we often overlook and discard but that give us the most overall benefit.
Hydrate – About 60 percent of our total bodyweight is comprised of water, and if you’re dehydrated and not getting enough you will not feel or perform well, and neither will your body. Having your fluid balance off by just half a percent increases strain on the heart (since it decreases overall blood volume). Add in the blazing heat and humidity that comes with just living in south Texas, and you can see how easy it is to be behind the curve before you even get started. Active or not, get your fluid balance in check, and you’ll feel and perform better almost immediately.
Sleep – Want to age quickly? Make your hormone levels go crazy? Maintain belly fat, increase cravings for junk food and even perform worse on cognitive tasks? Great! All you have to do is be really bad at sleeping. But don’t just take my word for it, click here and here to read all about it. Of course, you could always just make an effort to improve sleep patterns, which will make you look, feel and perform better, along with decreasing your risks of several health maladies, but who the heck wants that?
Eat Food – Actual food, that is. And a good variety of it to shore up any nutrient deficiencies. You’re looking for mostly plant based items, lean proteins and healthy fats – namely things that exist in nature as is, as opposed to overly processed or packaged items, or things created in a lab of factory. Actual foods contain a host of nutrients vital to good health, and most are calorically light, meaning you can eat a fair volume of a given item without having to worry so much about the caloric load. If you can’t name five fruits or vegetables you’ve eaten today, then this is an area you can definitely improve on.
Walk – If you’ve been sedentary, or are looking to add more activity and movement into your routine, you don’t have to hit a spin class, Crossfit session, or even step foot in a gym. Keep it simple by going for a daily walk. Doing so will decrease your risk of cardiovascular disease, certain cancers, and diabetes. You’ll burn a few extra calories in the process, and acquire a new habit that you can actually maintain for a lifetime. Want about one hundred more reasons to add a daily walk to your schedule? Just go here and watch this.
By concentrating on these primary elements, you dramatically improve baseline health markers, incorporate positive behavior patterns, and lay a solid foundation for future body composition or fitness goals. It may not give you the beach body you want right now, but it will certainly provide a solid foundation for one in the future. And that’s not a bad way to start the summer!