The prep for summer is underway—and there’s no need to panic. Turn off the Jaws music. Stop planning a juice cleanse to lose 10 pounds. Here’s the reality: Cleanses, pills and fasting won’t help you lose weight safely and keep it off long term. Sure, they may help you drop three, four or even five pounds quickly, but you’ll likely gain it right back.
The South Beach Diet, on the other hand, is a safe, effective way to lose weight and prep for summer, and the meal plan program is designed to help you eat and be healthy long term. In addition to eating a diet rich in Lean Proteins, Healthy Fats, Fruits, Vegetables and Whole Grains—and adding exercise to your daily routine—there are some simple things you can do to help you get ready for summer and all of its fun. (Remember: There’s a lot more to summer than a bathing suit.)
Check out 10 ways to prep for summer the South Beach way:
1. Schedule a Vacation in the Great Outdoors.
Yes, the beach counts as the perfect spot to prep for summer. But give water skiing or surfing a try. Or, schedule your visit around a 5K or 10K so you can fit in the recommended 30 (during weight loss) or 60 minutes of exercise a day (in weight maintenance). Everyone wants to have a relaxing vacation. And you should relax. Vacations are energizing and terrific mood boosters. In a February 2014 Harvard Business Review article, researchers asked 414 travelers to evaluate their mood post-vacation: 94 percent had as much as or more energy than when they left; 55 percent had more energy than before. One interesting takeaway: Take time to plan your trip. If you’re arranging transportation at the last minute or stuck somewhere feeling unsafe, you’ll return from vacation less happy and more stressed. Of those surveyed, 28 percent of people who had bad vacations also left planning to the last minute.
2. Is the County Fair Coming?
Is a new ice cream shop opening? Schedule vacation. Summertime brings some terrific food festivals but if you’re just beginning your South Beach meal plan, you should avoid indulging in guilty pleasures. To avoid these temptations, it might be fun to see new places and schedule vacation around healthier food festivals like the Atkins, Arkansas Picklefest (May), the Georgia Peach Festival in Fort Valley (June), the Boston Seafood Festival (August), or the Spinach Festival in Lenexa, Kansas (September).
3. Have Time Off?
If you’re a teacher, you likely will be home for the summer. Or, if you don’t have time off, your kiddos probably do. A change of schedule can mean a lapse in your exercise plan or healthy eating regimen. Try and prepare for those disruptions by anticipating them. Stock up on South Beach snacks and shakes. Seek out summer camps or gyms with childcare so you can be sure to fit in an hour of exercise. Don’t begin a new workout program a week before school ends. Alternately, if you’ll have more time on your hands than ever, find and schedule sessions with a personal trainer or figure out a way to challenge your body in a new way.
4. Adjust Your Workout Time.
Whether or not your work schedule will change this summer, it’s wise to change the time you exercise based on the heat. Practice working out first thing in the morning to see how you feel or later in the day when the sun finally relents, usually after 3:00 p.m. The last thing you want to do is give yourself heat stroke or extreme dehydration because it’s just too hot to exercise. Water is the best hydrator although, according to Penn Medicine, sugar-free sports drinks are helpful for prolonged workouts as sodium is a key ingredient for a hot day. Wear light-colored clothing to reflect the sun and plan on a cool shower post workout to bring your body temperature down.
5. Change Up Your Menu.
You may not want Texas Chili when it’s 98-degrees outside, but a Chocolate Caramel Entrée Shake would be filling and refreshing and is the perfect pick to prep for summer. Or maybe you prefer something hot but lighter like Edamame Chicken or a Grilled Chicken Sandwich. And don’t forget to order some extra snacks for your purse or car for vacation. Smoky BBQ Multigrain Chips, Sea Salt-Kissed Nuts, Parmesan Cheese Crisps or Meat Sticks won’t melt.
6. Stock Up on Frozen Fruit.
Ice cream is everywhere in the summertime. After Phase 1, let fruit smoothies be your treat. It’s super easy to mix one cup of Greek yogurt (full-fat) with some frozen strawberries or blueberries. Or better yet, find out when the strawberries (or peaches or cherries or raspberries) are ripe. Go picking and then freeze your bounty. The easiest way to freeze fruit is to spread it out in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. After it’s frozen solid, transfer the fruit to containers or air-tight plastic bags. Vegetables, too, will be available in droves at farmers markets or from your very own garden. (If you don’t have a garden, now’s a good time to build one!) Eat. Freeze. Can. Pickle (pickled foods are loaded with probiotics.) You’ll thank yourself mid-January when you’re still enjoying produce at its peak of freshness.
7. Have a Salon Day.
Did you make it to your goal weight? Are you making great strides? Instead of treating yourself to a big bowl of ice cream, make a salon appointment. Hair. Toes. Massage. The Works. While its tempting to try something like cool sculpting or a slimming body wrap as you prep for summer, understand that they’re a lot like the fad diets we mentioned earlier—only a lot more expensive, according to Women’s Health. They may give you quick results but the weight often comes right back on.
8. Practice Good Posture.
We work too much. We stare at our phones. We sit all da, and not only does a poor posture make you look frumpy, it promotes poor balance, headaches, breathing difficulties, incontinence, heartburn and slowed digestion, says Harvard Health. How does a physical therapist define perfect posture? “Put your shoulders down and back, pull your head back, and engage your core muscles. Bring your belly button in toward your spine, as if you’re zipping up a snug pair of jeans. That engages the transverse abdominis muscles, which acts like a corset around the spine,” says Meghan Markowski, a therapist at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital.
9. Plan to Spend Time in the Sun.
Wait. What? We absolutely recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen (one that protects against UVA and UVB rays) and a sun hat if you’re spending more than 30 minutes in the sun. However, sunlight is a recommended treatment for diseases like depression, skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema, and hypertension. And, exposure to UVB rays cause a person to create Vitamin D which plays a huge role in bone health. The World Health Organization advises getting five to 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands and face two to three times a week to obtain adequate Vitamin D. Note that the sun has to penetrate the skin so sunscreen and clothes can’t cover the areas.
10. Go Shopping.
We know that bathing suit is still on your mind. So what’s to be done about it? Go shopping. Today. There’s nothing more motivating. On a good day, you find a suit that fits; the rest of the time you’ll see every cookie and French fry you ever ate. But remember: Once you start the South Beach Diet, you’re changing your life and body for the better! So go find a suit that’s cute AND will keep you motivated. As the days and weeks go by, keep trying it on so you can see how much your body is changing.