Did you know that over 70% of adults in the United States are overweight or obese? While having a small amount of extra weight isn’t necessarily unhealthy, if you’re not eating healthy and maintaining an exercise routine, you may want to make some adjustments.
Why not start this summer? Summer is the perfect time to start eating a fresh and healthy diet and have some fitness fun in the sun. It’s time to set a summer challenge for yourself.
We’re here with a few ideas for how you can lose weight this summer (or just get healthier). Read on to learn more.
First: Diet Challenges
Conventional fitness wisdom says that abs are made in the kitchen, and it’s true. While you need to build muscle and endurance during workouts, losing weight is largely about your diet.
This isn’t to say that you should go on a fad diet or restrict yourself. There are plenty of ways that you can adjust your diet to make it healthier and better for your waistline while still eating all of the foods you love (in moderation).
Here are a few ways that you can challenge yourself to make “dieting” fun and tasty at the same time.
Eat Twenty Unique Plants Per Week
This is a tough one, but it’s worthwhile. Try to eat twenty unique plants every week. It requires you to be more mindful when you’re shopping, and you’ll be forced to eat more fruits and vegetables.
Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and (usually) low in calories. Even if they’re high-calorie foods (like avocados, for example), they’re also full of healthy nutrients.
Look at your current diet and figure out where you can add plants or swap out current foods for plants. Also, remember that a lot of your foods come from plants (such as rice and nuts).
Aim for whole plants when possible. Remember that frozen fruits and vegetables are just as good, so if they fit your budget better, that’s fine!
Swapping out some of your current foods for plants will make a big impact on the number of calories you consume, but you won’t feel deprived. Swap half of your noodles with zucchini noodles, or add spinach to your burrito bowl to replace half of the rice. There are so many options!
Do Meatless Mondays
If you’re not already plant-based, make it a summer diet goal to do meatless Mondays all season long. Note: vegetarian diets aren’t necessarily weight-loss diets, but committing to a large dietary change will force you to be more mindful about the food that you’re eating.
If you’re already a vegetarian, try vegan Mondays. If you’re vegan, try raw vegan Mondays. Your goal is to challenge yourself with something different.
Commit to a Water Challenge
Did you know that drinking more water can help you lose weight? Sometimes, when you feel hungry, you’re really just dehydrated (especially when you know that you’re eating enough calories to fuel your body).
Water will also improve your digestion and give you more energy.
We recommend getting a large water bottle and marking it for periods of the day. For example, you may commit to drinking half of the bottle in four hours and refilling it by the time half of your day is over.
If you struggle to drink enough water, you can add water flavoring drops or frozen fruit to make it easier.
DIY Your Favorite Fast Foods
This is one of our favorite challenges to modify our diet without giving up our favorite foods. Every week, DIY one of your favorite fast foods.
When you make your own version of fast-food favorites, you’re almost always going to make it healthier because you’re using fresh whole foods, and you know what’s going into your meal. You can also modify it to make it even better.
Either figure out how to dupe your fast food on your own, or use a recipe site to help set you on the right track.
Summer Workout Challenges
So your summer diet challenge is well underway, but what about exercise? Yes, exercise is secondary to diet when it comes to weight loss, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. Exercise will help you build muscle, improve your heart and lung health, and more.
While you can always involve yourself in a professional weight loss program, why not add some more fitness activities to help push your progress forward even more?
If you’re not already an avid gym-goer, exercise challenges might seem like a drag. Here are a few fun challenges that might make exercising a bit less stressful.
Swap Driving for Walking or Biking
This isn’t possible in every town or city, but if it’s possible for you, pick one destination (or more) that you can walk or bike to every week instead of driving.
This could be work, school, the gym, the local grocery store, or anywhere else that you need to go at least once per week (if not more). Even making this small change will make a huge difference in your overall activity levels every week.
You may even find that this is something that you want to stick with (especially with gas prices as high as they are).
Do Yoga Every Morning
If you’re always feeling too tired to work out after you get home from a busy day, we challenge you to wake up just a few minutes earlier and commit to a morning yoga practice.
During the summer, bringing your yoga mat outside to start the day is refreshing, and you’ll get valuable vitamin D (which can increase your energy levels).
You can commit to a full hour-long session of yoga, but even a brief 15-minute session counts on busy days. If you’re not a morning person, it will feel like a drag at first, but stick with it, and you’ll start looking forward to your morning movement.
Now, yoga isn’t usually considered a “weight-loss activity,” but even if you’re doing slow-paced yoga, it will improve your balance and flexibility. If you want an extra calorie burn, do a fast-paced vinyasa session to get your blood flowing.
Commit to a New Unique Fitness Class
Do you struggle to work out without structure? Does running a mile on a treadmill or lifting weights seem like the worst possible thing to waste time on? No problem; find a unique fitness class instead.
So what qualifies as unique? Well, the best type of exercise is the one that you can commit to doing as often as possible. What sounds fun to you?
What about a dance class or an aerial arts class (like aerial yoga, pole, or silks)? You could try rock climbing, martial arts, and so much more.
There are so many activities that don’t feel like exercise when you’re doing them because they’re so much fun.
Aim for 150 Minutes of Exercise Per Week
Did you know that the CDC recommends that you get at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week? You can reduce your exercise time if you’re doing high-intensity exercises, but for the average workout session, it’s best to stick to the 150 minutes.
This doesn’t mean that you have to spend 150 minutes in classes or at the gym. A long power walk, an intense yoga session, or even jumping rope in your yard will count toward this number.
When you break it down, 150 minutes is only 30 minutes for 5 days out of your week. If you take an hour-long fitness class, that’s 60 minutes already taken care of in one day.
Space out your exercise in whatever way makes you feel the most comfortable and capable. Don’t overdo it.
Set a Fitness Goal
This might seem obvious: your fitness goal is losing weight, right? Well, losing weight isn’t the same as losing fat. You may find that the number on the scale doesn’t move that much, but you’ll still be healthier and look “better” by the end of the summer.
Instead of relying on the numbers on the scale, try setting a non-weight-related fitness goal instead, even if it’s aesthetic (though it doesn’t have to be).
If you want an aesthetic goal, aim for a smaller pants size instead. This is a better measure of fat loss than the number on the scale.
If you also want some non-aesthetic goals, what about strength or endurance goals? Maybe you want to be able to do 10 pull-ups by the end of the summer, or you want to be able to run a set number of miles without having to stop.
Having a specific goal to work toward will make exercise more fun.
Try a Summer Challenge for Your Health
Why not try a summer challenge to keep the season productive? Summer weight loss doesn’t have to be a drag. Try one or several of these mini-challenges to get (or stay) fit!
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