Summertime is not the time to be stressing constantly about the way you look, how much weight you're losing, or if you spent enough time on the elliptical. Instead, give yourself some space to relax - your body and mind will thank you for it. That doesn't mean you should completely go off the wagon in terms of your health and fitness, though. In order to keep from gaining weight and losing any ground you gained earlier in the year, make sure to incorporate these healthy habits every day.
1. Drink lots of water every day.
This is one of the simplest yet most often-overlooked ways to keep your appetite under control on a daily basis. When you make a habit of drinking plenty of water throughout the day, it will help your stomach feel fuller, and will many times curb those fleeting cravings that can derail your best laid healthy eating plans. Not only that, but water also plays a vital role in helping the body metabolize stored fat by aiding in kidney and liver function.
Most experts recommend drinking at least eight to ten 8-oz. glasses of water per day, which is entirely doable because water has no calories. If you were to try that with sodas, coffee, tea, or juice, you'd probably pack on an extra 500-1,000 calories per day just from beverages alone. If plain water sounds boring, add a twist of citrus, a few slices of cucumber, or some mint sprigs to create some refreshing flavors.
2. Use smaller plates/bowls for your meals.
Scores of studies suggest that when we use smaller-sized plates and bowls for our meals, we downsize our portions accordingly. It's somewhat of a psychological trick that tends to work very well, because when a smaller plate is full of food, the portions appear to be larger. The end result is that you'll be satisfied with a smaller amount of actual food. So instead of whipping out the large dinner plate for your next meal, opt for a salad plate instead.
3. Keep fresh food easily accessible.
We've all heard of the phrase "out of sight, out of mind," but the opposite holds true as well. If you keep a generous amount of fresh fruit and veggies on hand and put them in a conspicuous, highly accessible place, it'll be easier for you to just walk by and grab a piece when you're feeling hungry for a snack. Load up a large bowl with oranges, apples and bananas, or a plate of carrots and snap peas, and put it on the counter. You'll find that you'll do less hunting around in the pantry for those less-than-nutritious snack foods.
4. Don't eat anything else after dinner.
The nighttime snack, midnight snack or "fourth meal" is a prime time for packing in unneeded calories, so avoid eating any other foods after you've had dinner. If the cravings are really pulling at you, try drinking some water, chewing a piece of gum, or just going to bed. Another tactic that works quite well is brushing your teeth right after dinner, and if you really want to take it to the next level, finish off your brushing session with a strong mouthwash.
5. Eat breakfast every morning.
Nothing will throw your metabolism out of whack quicker than neglecting to eat breakfast every morning. There's a reason why the experts call it the "most important meal of the day"; your body needs this early morning fuel in order to wake up your metabolism again after a long night of rest. And speaking of rest...
6. Get enough sleep at night!
A sleep-deprived body will produce higher levels of cortisol, a stress-response hormone that (among other things) helps your body cope with the effects of getting inadequate rest. As you can imagine, it's more difficult for your body to maintain a high level of performance when you haven't had any sleep, so cortisol is released as a way to produce more energy to help you get through the day.
The only problem is that elevated levels of cortisol in your system can have adverse effects on your body, one of which is storing visceral fat (the fat underneath your muscles), and producing weight gain in general. Getting at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night will allow your body to repair and rejuvenate itself, so that it can operate at its best level of performance throughout the day without having to rely on that weight-gain-inducing cortisol.
Putting these habits into practice will help you keep your weight under control during the summer months. If you make them a part of your daily lifestyle, you'll be sure to keep the weight off year-round as well!