9 Hacks to Make Your Summer Fitness Goals Your Reality

Whether you’re headed to a block party with neighbors, a beach day with family, or a picnic in the park with that special someone, there’s no doubt that food and fun are on your summer schedule. Some outings may include food you may be trying to avoid, and those sunny beach days may inspire you to be more leisurely than active. A few treats and a few leisurely days are surely well deserved though, right?

When it comes to staying on track with your food and fitness goals and enjoying your summer, it’s all about balance.

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Be food prepared.

If you’re headed to a summer party where you know you’ll be tempted or where there won’t be food that accommodates your diet, pack a grab-n-go. Protein bars from brands like NuGo Nutrition and Larabar are usually $1-$2 per bar, packed with plant-based nutrients, and accessible at stores nationwide and on Amazon. Sliced fresh fruit, granola bars, and nuts are other quick, easily portable options.

Pick up your pace.

Of course you’re ready to get your chair and towel positioned just right and relax on the sand. But take a lap by the water before you get settled to squeeze in a few more steps and burn a few more calories.

Make meals simple, quick, and fun.

You’ve got your neighbor’s BBQ at 3 and friends coming over to your place at 6, so you need something shareable and convenient, but impressive. Baste colorful kabobs of tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms, zucchini, and squash with olive oil and spices before roasting them in your oven (or whip out your grill!) for 10-12 minutes. Cut whole sweet potatoes in down the middle, place them in aluminum foil, and bake them for 40 minutes. When they’re done, add peanut butter and cinnamon to them, cut them into smaller pieces, and serve them with toothpicks. Or when time is super short, snag some hummus or salsa from your local farmers’ market or grocery store, serve it on a fun platter and call it a day!

Carry a reusable water bottle.

It can be tempting to pop open a fizzing can of Coke or hit the Starbucks drive-thru for your favorite frappuccino while riding around with the convertible down this summer, but don’t let the heat talk you into making to a decision packed with sugar and calories that you may regret later.

Find fun ways to use resistance bands.

You can do quick and simple exercises with them during long days in the office and during your activity packed weekends. If you’re traveling this summer, be sure to bring them along. They take up minimal space and can inspire you to keep moving even on vacation.

Bring the chill to your meals.

A hot kitchen can often be the least fun place on these scorching summer days. Give yourself a brrr-eak from cooking with meals that require little to no cooking and that are chockfull of nutrients and yumminess. You may find some of the meals here to be colorful and shareable enough to carry with you to summer parties. Bonus points: with cool meals, you won’t have to worry about reheating food you travel with.

Make time to disconnect.

It’s easy to get caught up in all things planned even during the summer. From work commitments to our pressing social calendar to our ever-present technology, it can be challenging to stop and unwind. Schedule time to do just that this summer – no matter how challenging that may seem. Write down an hour of mediation or reading in your calendar, turn your phone off for an afternoon, forward your calls to voicemail for a day, or turn your out of office reply on and go take a walk. Long-term health and fitness successes include consistently disconnecting and clearing your schedule so you can clear your mind

Get your family and friends moving with you.

Beating the heat in a nice cool movie theater may be a fun afternoon activity for you and your loved ones, but so may taking a hike in your local park or challenging neighbors or coworkers to a game of kickball. Find activities that your loved ones enjoy and that keep them active, and then keep them engaged consistently. Having fun and enjoying quality time together can help them see that being active can be fun and help you stay motivated to meet your health and fitness goals.

Enjoy early morning activities.

You may not be able to talk your night owl loved ones into games or hikes in the AM, but you can beat the heat and tell them about your fitness fun later. Grab your bike (or rent a bike if you’re in a metropolitan area) and hit the pavement for a few miles. Hit your local park and watch the animals wake up with the sun as you hike by. Find a local outdoor recreation center and try out some new moves like these.

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handheld fitness equipment and water bottle

Break Out of the Office Space with Fit Play

When temperatures begin rising and the trees begin to bring the colors of spring to life, it can be difficult to stay inside during the workday, especially if you work in a sedentary job. The Centers for Disease Control recommend adults partake in1:

  • At least 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity; or
  • 75 minutes a week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity; or
  • An equivalence combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity.

Also recommendedis that we focus our daily nutrition and fitness routines on what Dr. Michael Greger calls The Daily Dozen, including foods such as beans, berries, cruciferous vegetables, and whole grains and exercise such as 90 minutes of moderate activity or 40 minutes of vigorous activity. (You can download The Daily Dozen app free for the iPhone and Androids.)

While you stare out your office window and daydream about how to make time to improve your activity levels and nutrition, here are some tips to get you started:

Get outside with coworkers

A walk in a nearby park can easily relax and refresh us, allowing us to be more productive and maintain greater focus. Start a walking club with coworkers, and plan to get your spring strides in for at least 20 minutes. Hold your next department meeting outside as well and enjoy the cardio and fresh air as a team. Ask management to host a walk or a meeting of their own outside so they can have a chance to see how fitness and wellness help your team become more productive.

Make small strides (they add up!)

Proclaim every Friday to be email-free; instead of emailing your colleagues, walk over to have a chat with them. Take the stairs to get there and to get back to your desk. Walk while you’re on that conference call; instead of taking it from your office phone, dial in from your cell phone so you can stretch and move while still working. Don’t snag that highly prized front parking place each morning when you arrive; instead, park at the far end of the parking lot or even a few complexes away if possible. If you take public transportation, get off a couple of stops before your place of work and walk the rest of the way.

Hold a fit feast

Work with your company’s event and/or wellness teams to host a lunch highlighting healthy foods. (If your office doesn’t have one or both of those committees, start one or both yourself!) Ask employees to bring in their favorite plant-based dishes and/or healthy seasonal fare or coordinate several choices from a local restaurant. Work with management to award fun fitness and health related gifts for the coworkers who bring in the most brightly colored dish, the tastiest dish, the most creative dish, etc.

Nix nibbling

You likely have your desk organized in a way that allows you to work efficiently and quickly. You may also have it arranged in a way that is conducive to snacking. Avoid storing high calorie junk foods in your desk that may tempt you throughout the day, especially if your workdays are stressful. Also, avoid using your desk as your lunch space; instead, get away from your desk to enjoy your lunch. Move around a bit before and after as well.

Organize a day of activity

Work with your events and/or wellness teams to organize a field day with friendly competitive events such as kickball, relay races, soccer, and an obstacle course. You could also include activities such as yoga and a walking challenge for your coworkers who would rather relax than compete. Not only will such a day help morale but it will also3 help you and your coworkers by boosting your alertness and productivity and alleviating stress.

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1: “Current Physical Activity Guidelines.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/cancer/dcpc/prevention/policies_practices/physical_activity/guidelines.htm

2: “Dr. Greger’s Daily Dozen Checklist.” Michael Greger, M.D. NutritionFacts.orghttps://nutritionfacts.org/video/dr-gregers-daily-dozen-checklist/

3: “How Does Exercise Improve Work Productivity?” Julie Boehlke. https://www.livestrong.com/article/422836-how-does-exercise-improve-work-productivity/

runner jogging down paved road

Spring Training Tips: It’s Time to Reclaim Your Fitness

Spring is in the air – or certainly will be soon for those who live in colder locales. With the flip of the seasonal switch often comes the interest to get outside, get moving, and get in shape. If you’re ready to come out of your fitness hibernation or if you’re looking for ways to spring clean your fitness routine, check out the following ideas for inspiration to get in the spring swing of things!

1. Nourish your body with plant-based whole foods.

Add more plant-based, unprocessed food to your diet to give your body the wholesome fuel it needs to help you meet your fitness and wellness goals. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tempeh, lentils, and beans are all examples of simple, clean foods that give you the protein, vitamins, and minerals needed to treat your body well. Learn more about spring cleaning your diet here and here.

2. Make fitness fun.

Ask a buddy to talk walks with you around your office building each day. Check out that new park in town and mix up your workout with some sightseeing. Join a step challenge on FitBit (you can download the app for free and use it to track steps or join challenges and communities without buying the fitness tracker). Get creative in the kitchen by trying new veggies or new combinations of food. If you make your fitness journey enjoyable, you’re more likely to stick with it.

3. Get active every day.

It’s easy to say “I don’t have time to work out today,” but it can also be easy to find a physical activity you love and focus on it for just a few moments each day. Like to take a break and get outside during the workday? Take a quick stroll around the building. Want to try some exercises with weights without joining a gym? Try an at-home workout with water jugs. The idea is to get your body moving on a consistent basis and learn to get into the routine of making fitness a priority.

4. Set achievable goals.

Whether you’re getting back into fitness after this winter or you’re new to fitness, it’s important to pace yourself. If you like to walk/jog/run, start off this spring with a 20 minute walk every other day. Increase it each week by 5-10 minutes and/or gradually increase your speed. If you like to include weights in your training, start off with low weights/high reps and gradually increase the weight each week. If you want to join a gym but aren’t sure you’re ready to commit to it, establish a workout routine at home and add new exercises each week.

5. Learn to say no.

Your coworker may come in with donuts for the team while you’re working hard to establish new, healthier habits. Your significant other may suggest going out to that one restaurant with that one menu item you love the most when you’ve already prepped your meals. Your best friend may text you to see if you’d like for her to pick you up your favorite latte topped with chocolate and whipped cream. While it’s certainly acceptable to treat yourself now and then, your fitness goals may involve you saying no to frequent indulgences. Discipline and willpower will go a long way in helping you realize your goals both with food and with fitness level.

6. Stretch.

This activity of lengthening your muscles gives your body time to warm up and decreases your risk of soreness as well as injury. It also promotes flexibility, which is important to your overall fitness performance. Start by holding stretches for 15 seconds and gradually increase to at least 30 seconds per move. Breathe freely with each stretch, and be sure to incorporate stretching in the beginning and in the end of your workouts.

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