Written by Ricki, one of the awesome Personal Training team at Rangiora Fitness Centre.

With summer fast upon us, it’s time to enjoy all the good things that come with the sun – beaches, BBQs, drinks and good food – and relax and enjoy quality time with family and friends.

It’s also the time of year when all of our hard work to improve our health and fitness over the last twelve months can take a backwards step. However, with a bit of awareness and a few smart choices, you can make sure you keep up your good work while still enjoying the summer season.

Here are my top 10 tips for staying fit over the summer:

1. Set a plan and be realistic

Not every day will be perfect and neither should it be. Plan in advance the days you won’t be able to exercise and make sure to put the work in around those days. That way, you can relax and enjoy the time off without having the guilt of not keeping up with your exercise regime.

2. Be mindful of how much you eat and drink

One day of unhealthy eating and drinking will not ruin your progress; consistent unhealthy eating and drinking will.

With all the beer, wine and tasty leftovers in the fridge, it’s easy to get carried away on the portion sizes throughout the Christmas period, so choose your portion sizes wisely. Eat until you are satisfied and not until you are full (there is a big difference!).

Prioritise proteins and vegetables before anything else, and only have a small portion of Grandma’s Christmas Trifle – not the entire bowl!

3. Eat strategically

We all want to give in to temptation and try all the nice food on offer during this period. However, if possible, be strategic and eat the majority of your carbohydrate-dense foods around mid-morning or lunchtime. This sets you up for having the best possible chance of burning off those extra calories through the rest of the day ahead.

Staying hydrated will also aid in digestion and help you consume fewer calories throughout the day, so have a glass of water with every meal.

4. Aim to ‘move’ every day

On the days you aren’t heading to the gym or exercising, avoid being seated for long periods and still make it a priority to do something active. This can be as simple as a stroll on the beach or playing with the kids. You will not only notice a difference in mental clarity, but it should also boost your metabolism to help avoid any unnecessary weight gain.

5. Count your steps

Use a pedometer to count your daily steps (most phones will have them built in or downloadable apps and some watches will have them too). Set a goal to achieve an amount you usually would on a normal working day, such as 10,000 steps. Checking this throughout the day will remind you to keep moving and get those steps up.

6. Workout in the morning

Get your exercise done first thing in the morning to save procrastinating throughout the day. Once it’s done you won’t need to feel guilty about skipping a workout.

7. Prioritise sleep

This may seem obvious, but lack of sleep or poor sleep in general can have a huge impact on our body composition and fitness levels. Getting enough sleep can keep hormone levels in check and reduce stress levels to keep our bodies functioning optimally. Avoid too many late nights or sleep-ins on a consecutive basis to feel better throughout the holidays.

8. Ditch the long workouts

The last thing we want to do is spend hour sin the gym slaving away over a few machines in the summer heat. Aim for full body workouts in a high intensity interval fashion that can be done in 20-30 minutes. Doing this will actually speed up your metabolism and help you burn more calories during and after your workout.

9. Get your goals in check now

Don’t wait until 2019 to start your new year’s resolution. Write down what you want to achieve and have your goal/s visible everywhere you will see them constantly, such as on your phone, by your bed and on the fridge. That way, when you’re feeling unmotivated, you will see a reminder of why you are doing this (and it might stop you from eating that extra biscuit or two!).

10. Relax and have fun

Results don’t happen overnight; they come from dedication and consistency. Whatever you have planned over the summer holidays, make sure you do something every day that will either get you closer to your goal or at least not further away from it, which will help you stay on track and keep your fitness goals in sight.

And remember that a small break from exercise or drop in intensity can be great for us physically and mentally – as long as the break doesn’t last the whole summer!