5 ways summer is good for weight loss

beachThe weather is getting warmer.  Summer is coming.  If you dread the thought of putting on a bathing suit or pair of running shorts, you may be making plans for a desperate crash diet.  While crash diets are never a good idea, the long days and warm summery weather may actually make it easier to lose weight.  Here are 5 ways summer can make it easier to diet:

1. Get outside in the early morning sunshine

There’s increasing evidence that getting exposure to morning sunlight is linked to lower body weight.  A recent study suggests that people with more morning light exposure are thinner, independent of calorie intake.   Why would light affect weight? One possibility is that it affects appetite and calorie intake, or types of foods chosen.   In another study, obese women exposed to bright morning light had decreased appetite and lowered body fat.  Researchers also speculate that bright morning light affects the body’s circadian rhythm, which in turn affects metabolism.  Could it be an effect of increased vitamin D?  In another study, obese women were supplemented with vitamin D and put on a lower calorie diet.  The women whose vitamin D blood levels increased (above 32 ng/ml) lost more weight and had improvements in body composition compared to women whose vitamin D did not increase above that level.  Sun exposure stimulates vitamin D production right in your skin.

Whatever the reason for the sunlight/weight loss effect, take advantage!  Summer is the ideal time to get out in early morning sunshine for a walk, jog or bike ride.   Or just sit outside in the sun with your coffee.

2. It’s easier to eat less

Hot weather can cut your appetite.  You also may be drinking lots more fluids when it’s hot out (like plain water, unsweetened drinks).  Filling up on liquid also cuts appetite.  So take advantage of your lower appetite to lose weight in summer.  It’s easy to ditch the calories in summer if you grill more foods.  Grilled vegetables need, at most, a touch of oil (applied with a pastry brush) for grilling.  Many meats don’t even need that.

3. More exercise opportunities

The weather is warm, and days are longer, making outdoor exercise more pleasant. In addition to that early morning sunlight walk, add an evening after-dinner walk or bike ride.  On weekends, get the whole family out to bike, hike, participate in sports or swim.  Investigate ways to use your own muscle power to commute to work, whether on a bicycle or some combination of walking, biking and public transportation.  Added benefit of exercise: while you’re out walking, biking or swimming, you aren’t eating.

4. Eat healthier, lower calorie/higher fiber foods

Fresh vegetables and fruits are in season.  They taste better and are more available.  Take advantage of farmers’ markets to buy local.  Or grow your own.  Added benefit of growing your own: gardening burns calories and you aren’t typically eating while you’re gardening.  And if you do gardening in the morning, you’ll be getting exposed to that early morning sunlight.

5. Skimpier clothes and bathing suits may be inspirational

Summer clothing can be revealing.  If you have to squeeze into last year’s shorts, some calorie control plans may be in order.  Fitting into a bridal gown, or new clothes for a summer vacation, or a bathing suit can also boost your resolve.  Whatever it takes, or whatever works for you is great, as long as you don’t beat yourself up about minor slip ups or failure to meet a weight loss goal that was too ambitious.  The time to think about that bathing suit is now, not the day you go swimming.     The trick will be to maintain that resolve after the special event or trip, or when the weather is too cold for bathing suits.

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