• Dr Sally Norton

THREE HABITS YOU ABSOLUTELY NEED FOR SUMMER


It’s easier to be out of shape in winter, with all those layers to hide under. But once the warmer weather is here, being in less-than-peak form gets harder to ignore – particularly if we’re carrying a few (or more) extra pounds. And that can lead to the familiar dread of being overweight over summer.

But the brighter light and longer days can boost our mood making now the perfect time to let go of those bad habits that are sabotaging your health and waistline – and replace them with healthy new ones to take you through to the holiday season and beyond.


The more bad habits you swap for good ones, the closer you’ll come to the healthier, more energetic and ideal weight person you want to be. And in a way that gives lasting change – not just for a few weeks of summer. Because we all want weight-loss that actually lasts.


What’s more, start now and you can ignore all those summer promotions for fad diets and unrealistic workout regimes that bombard us, and set us up for failure, every year. “Your best summer body in just 7 days.” Really?!


Here are three new habits you can take on board right away that will get you on your way to your goals.


1. Time for a fridge makeover

It’s tempting to rely on convenience foods or ready meals especially when we’re busy. But while few of us have the time or inclination to spend our lives slaving over a hot stove, remember there is such a thing as ‘real, fast food’. Just google 'quick and healthy recipes' and you'll see what I mean!


And it's a perfect time for a fridge makeover when the shelves are bursting with all that lovely fresh spring and summer produce. So if you want to take control of your health and your weight – and avoid those hidden nasties such as sugar, taste-enhancers and unhealthy fats which sneak their way into a whole range of processed foods and ready meals – ditch the junk and fill your fridge with goodness. I promise you will never look back once you’ve developed a taste for real, fast food.

What’s more, eating food that is packed full of nutrients can help your body to get slimmer and healthier without the addictive cravings that conventional dieting can produce.

And by taking advantage of those seasonal offers – and developing a liking for misshapen veg (check out those supermarket bargain bags!) – it doesn't have to be expensive.

2. Take the quick route to body confidence


OK, so you probably know all about the health and weight benefits of exercise. You may also know that exercise boosts mood by releasing your ‘happy hormones’ (endorphins). But did you know that exercise can improve your body image even before the physical benefits have kicked in?


A review of evidence by US researchers at the University of Florida showed that even after just one exercise session, men and women felt better about themselves even though their bodies hadn’t changed at all. And the more they exercised, the more body confident they became, regardless of how hard or long the workout.


And if you consider you’re more likely to make healthy choices when you’re feeling good about yourself, it’s even more reason to start exercising today. So take advantage of the warmer weather to get outside and walk, run or cycle your way to a better place in terms of your mental strength.

3. Discover the joys of H2O


It’s easy to forget about liquid calories. But our love of fizzy sugary drinks is a major contributor to soaring levels of obesity, and all the health problems that go with it. Not to mention the trend for specialist coffees found in most high street coffee bars, and laden with calories, sugar and fat.


Ditch these calorie-rich, nutrient-poor drinks and you’ll not only feel the benefit, your waistline should too. Switch, instead to H2O – not fruit juices or smoothies, which although natural are still high on sugar.

Water has zero calories (compared with 150 in a standard can of coke, 340 in a large café latte and a whopping 500 in some other specialist coffees). It is also a natural pick-me-up and one of the best health and beauty products around. So make H2O your number one beverage of choice and you’ll be amazed at the calories you save. What’s more, the body easily mistakes thirst for hunger – so having a bottle of water to hand can mean you eat less too.

For a burst of flavour without the calories, try infusing your water with berries, herbs or a citrus slice.

The perfect time to start

Studies suggest it can take anywhere between 2 to 8 months of practising a healthier behaviour to make it a habit. And changing habits can lead to long term change. So when it comes to getting summer-ready, don’t leave it until the last minute. Start now, and you’ll not only be fitter, healthier and slimmer when the summer arrives – you’ll still see the results long after your sun tan has faded.

And, if you need more help, why not sign up for my next 12 week online Weight Loss for Life programme where I can support you all the way? Click HERE for more info.

References

Campbell A, Hausenblas HA. Effects of exercise interventions on body image: a meta-analysis. J Health Psychology. Sept 2009.

Phillippa Lally et al. How are habits formed: modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology. October 2010.

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