(CNN)With the brighter, longer and hotter days of summer upon us, it's really a perfect time to maintain your health and fitness. The season invites us to eat a little lighter and be more active outdoors.
Easy, fun and delicious ways to get healthy this summer
And if your desire to engage in healthful summertime habits is also a reaction to a few or more pounds gained over the past few difficult months, please be kind to yourself.
While we may have indulged in bigger portions or more snacks than usual due to the stresses associated with being quarantined or sick at home, it's important not to judge ourselves for the ways we chose to cope during such an uncertain time.
After all, being kind and compassionate to ourselves is important for our mental health, and it can affect our future behaviors, too. So forget what you did before today.
Instead, consider each day a new opportunity to indulge your health and wellness by making very simple adjustments to your daily routine.
Even better news: Summertime is an especially opportune time to take advantage of fresh produce, healthy meals and a variety of outdoor fitness activities.
Here are some of my strategies that help me live a healthy life. I hope they can help you, too.
Drinking water helps to keep us healthy, but staying hydrated is important, especially during summertime when we may lose more fluids through sweat.
Though individual needs vary, the Institute of Medicine recommends that women aim to consume 2.7 liters or 91 ounces of fluids daily, and men, 3.7 liters or 125 ounces a day.
To help you meet your fluid needs, aim to drink at least 12 ounces of water with each meal. This can also help you avoid overeating during a meal. If plain water is boring, jazz it up by making a pitcher of fruit-infused water with orange or lemon slices, or even herbs like mint and rosemary. A refreshing glass of seltzer can also help you meet your water needs, and may be more satisfying than plain water on hot days.
You can also water up in the form of a broth-based soup, like a cold gazpacho. Water-rich foods such as watermelon, oranges, apples, grapes, cucumbers, lettuce, celery and cabbage are other refreshing hydration hacks.
Regular physical activity can strengthen your bones and muscles, lower your risk of disease, and help you maintain a healthy weight.
Take advantage of summertime and longer days to be as physically active as possible. Walking, hiking, dancing, playing Frisbee, jogging, outdoor yoga, bike riding, swimming, playing tennis, golf, paddle boarding, kayaking and water skiing are all fun summer activities that will keep you fit and increase your daily energy expenditure. And mowing the lawn, gardening, yard work and washing your car allow you to move around while accomplishing necessary chores.
Moving after mealtime can be a fun summer ritual. Lately I've been taking walks after dinner as I listen to music and try to catch the sunset. It not only helps to prevent nighttime nibbling; it also feels good to move on a full stomach!
Replacing starchy carbs like white rice, regular pasta or potatoes with a lower-carb compromise can give your meals a nutritional upgrade by boosting fiber and nutrients while cutting calories.
Try using cauliflower for tater tots or in place of mashed potatoes; chickpea and lentil pastas instead of regular pasta, which are lower in carbs and higher in protein and fiber than their higher-carb cousins; chickpea rice in place of white rice, or spaghetti squash in place of spaghetti.