We know, we know: A consistently healthy diet and a dedicated fitness routine are the keys to the wellness kingdom (sigh), but there are times when we’re all a little less diligent than we should be. Namely, during summer weekends. Seriously, who can be bothered hitting the gym and eating clean when there’s barbecues to attend and rosé to drink?
It’s just not realistic to count calories during lazy summer weekends—and that’s fine—but once Monday rolls around, understanding how to get back in shape is key. After all, too much indulging won’t only mess with our waistlines, but it can also do a number on our overall health.
Here, an hour-by-hour guide that’ll kick your body into gear until it’s time to let loose again next weekend.
Drink a glass of lukewarm water with lemon (and cayenne pepper, if you dare) first thing in the morning. This drink gets your organs going, and fresh lemon juice and cayenne pepper both have major anti-fungal, immune boosting, and detoxification properties. Plus, lemon juice is nature’s best tool for aiding in digestion and regularity, destroying bacteria and cleansing the system. Basically, this is the zero-sugar version of the spicy lemon drinks you can buy from various cleanse brands.
If you’re a breakfast person, eat it within 30 minutes of waking up. Studies show this can do wonders to boost metabolism. If you’re really trying to get back on track, skip the carbs and dairy today (which can cause inflammation in women) and opt for a something with protein like a hard-boiled egg or fresh green juice.
If you’re not feeling the gym (we totally feel you) add wrist weights to your arms before you start blow drying your hair, or using other hot tools. Depending on your hair length and thickness, it could take over 20 minutes to completely dry. By adding weight on your arms, you’ll be challenging your muscles as you style with your (probably heavy) dryer and a hairbrush.
If you have to have coffee, skip the sugar and the milk and drink it black, or add a splash of almond milk. Again, regular milk isn’t great for us—a Swedish study found that women who downed at least three glasses of milk a day were nearly twice as likely to die over the next 20 years compared with their peers who drank less than a glass daily. And we all know sugar’s basically the devil.
Get off the train or bus one stop early and walk to your office. Drive to work? Park in the farthest spot you can.
Fill up the biggest water bottle you have, and down it all before lunch.
Aim to make lunch the healthiest it can be today, with plenty of fiber-rich green veggies and low-sodium lean protein, like a kale salad with salmon and a drizzle of olive oil, or grilled chicken over greens. Again, skip the dairy, and make sure you refill your water bottle. Here are 13 realistic healthy lunch ideas to get you started.
Deskcersize! Sitting all day can be a detriment to your health, so it pays to sneak in some exercise at work. Here’s how to strengthen your abs and relieve tired leg muscles without getting up from your desk: Start with feet flat on floor, sit tall at your desk, and hold ab muscles tight. From there, extend one leg until it is level with your hip. Hold for 10 seconds lower leg slowly, and repeat 15 times before changing legs.
Get up to refill that water bottle.
Instead of hitting the vending machine to squash that late-afternoon craving, snack on a handful of almonds. A study of overweight and obese adults found that, combined with a calorie-restricted diet, consuming a quarter-cup of these guys can decrease weight more effectively than snacking on carbohydrates after just two weeks. Another option: Chow down on one cup of watermelon, which has a high concentration of water (and around 45 calories) so it’ll keep you satisfied and hydrated.
Skip eating out and make dinner tonight. That way, you’ll know exactly what’s going into your meal. Again, skip carbs and go for vegetables and 3 ounces of lean protein. And keep drinking water.
8: 30 p.m.
According to Reader’s Digest, a large-scale study of over 9,000 people found that those who watched more than two hours of TV a day ate more, while downing more sugary sodas and high-fat, high-cal, processed snack foods than those who watched less. Tonight, try limiting TV to two hours, max. Extra points if you stick in some sit-ups, push-ups, lunges, or jumping jacks while you watch.
Start winding down for the night by reading, straightening up your bedroom (trust us: a neater bedroom will help you sleep better), and taking some extra time to treat your skin with an exfoliant, a hydrating or detox mask, and plenty of moisturizer.
Shut your phone off
According to the Daily Mail, staring at your mobile’s screen at bedtime causes people to take longer to reach the deeper stages of sleep and to spend less time in them. Bad news, as deep sleep is essential for your body to rejuvenate cells and repair damage suffered during the weekend. Seriously, Instagram can wait until morning.
Crank up the AC! Sleeping in a cool bedroom may increase your percentages of brown fat — a type that acts more like muscle, helping to burn bad fat and increase your metabolism — according to a 2014 study conducted by the National Institute of Health. Read all about it here!