Aside from New Year's Day, summer is the most popular time for people to commit to getting in shape. When the weather is cold, we can keep our extra weight and soft muscles hidden in layers of clothing. But when it comes to that beach vacation or family reunion, the shorts and tank tops are not going to do us justice.
The good news is, there's still plenty of time to slim down and feel healthy so you can enjoy your summer with friends and family. Instead of buying an expensive gym membership, and spending your mornings trapped inside on a treadmill, think of adding one or more of these eco-friendly tips to your daily routine. Each one is designed to help you lose weight, without having a negative impact on the planet.
Summer is the season of BBQ's so this one might be hard to swallow at first. Meat, especially red meat, can contain a lot of hidden fat. Not to mention that we tend to pair meat with unhealthy side dishes, like buttery mashed potatoes or creamed spinach. Studies have shown that people who eat vegetarian diets are typically up to 20 percent slimmer than meat eaters, not to mention that animal agriculture accounts for a major portion of all greenhouse gas emissions now clogging our atmosphere.
GROW YOUR OWN
If you're wondering how you're going to afford all these vegetables, think about growing your own. Vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, spinach, kale, and lettuce can all be grown easily in containers or normal garden beds, and each packs a huge nutritional punch. Not only do homegrown veggies taste better, they're also more convenient, and will get you doing some physical labor in the bright sunshine!
DITCH THE CAR
Speaking of physical activity... It's always been hard to understand why people will drive, often through traffic, to get to a gym, just so they can spend an hour walking or running in place. This summer, seize every possible opportunity to walk or ride your bike in favor of driving. Not only will you save a bundle in gas, and reduce emissions which can be especially toxic in the summer heat, but you're likely to notice an immediate effect on the scale.
All that walking and biking is bound to make you a little tired, especially when you first start, and that's ok! Going to bed an hour early, or sleeping in an extra hour (if you can) might be key to jumpstarting your weight loss. More than 24 studies link a healthy night's sleep with a healthy weight. In one recent study, dieters who slept for 8.5 hours a night lost 55 percent more body fat than their 5.5-hour-a-night counterparts.
No matter which one of the above tips you decide to try, this one is a must. Drinking water is an absolute requirement for staying healthy as well as losing weight. Instead of reaching for that iced tea or cold soda, grab your reuseable water bottle and fill up at the tap instead. Studies have shown that staying well hydrated, especially prior to meal times, can help you shed pounds and keep them off for good.
Beth Buczynski is an environmental writer and editor living in the Rocky Mountain West. Follow her on Twitter as @ecosphericblog