From long hikes and dips in the pool to fresh berries and lingering daylight, there are so many reasons to love summer. Here's one more: It's the best time of year to lose weight, says Pamela Peeke, MD, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and author of Body for Life for Women. "Nature is working with you," she explains. "If you take advantage in the right ways, the pounds will practically fall off your body." We reached out to a panel of pros for their advice on how to get in peak shape this summer without a lot of extra effort.
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"Vacation presents an amazing opportunity to refresh our routines because it takes us out of our regular environment. Without the triggers for our current habits all around us, it's easier to break existing patterns and form new oneslike, say, amping up your fitness routine or taking time for relaxation." Judith S. Beck, PhD, president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy and author of The Diet Trap Solution
"Forget the 153-calorie margarita. I like to add Wakaya Perfection ginger powder to good-quality vodka. A 1-ounce pour with club soda comes to only 60 calories. Plus, a 2012 study published in the journal Metabolism showed that ginger helps crank up the body's fat-burning machine." Lauren Slayton, RD, author of The Little Book of Thin
"Smoothies are very appealing in summerbut chances are, by lunchtime you're hungry enough to eat your desk. Your blend should have the nutrients that give a meal staying power: protein, fiber and good fat. I love a coco-mango smoothie with a large ripe mango, 1 1/2 cup coconut manna (ground-up coconut meat), 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1 teaspoon ground turmeric, fresh lime juice and a cup of ice. It's sweet and has more than 20 vitamins and minerals, including some thought to protect skin from UVB damage." Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, author of Eating in Color
"Summer brings a generous supply of produce packed with water, which helps make us feel full with fewer calories. A study at Penn State showed this effect. Women served a broth-based soup before lunch ate about 100 fewer calories than women who started with a casseroleand they weren't any hungrier later. At the farmers market, load up on watermelon, strawberries, peaches, zucchini and cucumbers." David Katz, MD, director of the Prevention Research Center at the Yale School of Medicine
"Wearing less clothing in warmer weather is incredibly motivating. For example, I'm thinking about what I'm going to eat for dinner because I'm headed to the beach tomorrow." David Kirsch, New York City celebrity trainer
"If you eat outside, you will almost certainly eat healthier. We did a study that showed that restaurant-goers who sat by a window were more than 80 percent more likely to order a salad than diners seated elsewhere. Seeing nature and others being active primes you to think less indulgently." Brian Wansink, PhD, director of the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab
"Cooking outside means fishbass is especially good on the grilland lean meats that don't need a lot of oil, butter or heavy sauces. You can finish them more simply with chili peppers, a squeeze of lemon and chopped fresh herbs. Mint and basil are two of my favorites because they taste so fresh." Dan Kluger, a James Beard-nominated chef specializing in seasonal cooking
"Coffee is so winter. Try iced green tea instead; add a touch of natural sweetener if you don't like it plain. Green tea contains EGCG, an antioxidant that helps speed up metabolism. In a Penn State study published in 2014, mice that were fed a high-fat diet and a decaffeinated green tea extract lost about 27 percent of their body massand around 36 percent of their belly fat!" Lauren Slayton, RD
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Prep no-cook sides
"When it's 90 degrees, nobody wants to slave over a hot stove. And not cooking your food may actually give you a weight-loss edge. A Harvard University study performed on mice in 2011 found that the body absorbs fewer calories from raw food than it does from cooked food. So think about raw sides for your meals, like spiralized veggie 'spaghetti' or crisp greens with julienned beets, carrots and jicama." Joel Fuhrman, MD, research director of the Nutritional Research Foundation and author of The End of Dieting
"If you exercise in hot weather, there's more metabolic stress on your body. It has to work harder to keep its internal environment stableto regulate your heart rate and manage respiratory stress, for examplewhich can lead to more calories torched. Just make sure that you stay hydrated." Jacque Crockford, exercise physiologist and education specialist with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego
"Bright evenings are made for strolls around the neighborhood, and going for a brisk 30-minute walk every day could help you shed about 10 pounds in a year. A 2010 study showed that women who walked in the p.m. burned more body fat than women who walked in the a.m. They also spontaneously started eating more of their daily calories in the morning, which gave them more opportunity to burn them off during the day." Kelly Springer, RD, a nutritional coach in upstate New York
Who wants to be stuck inside at a health club on a sunny day? No worries: Celebrity trainer David Kirsch shares moves that require nothin' but a bench.
Lunge Stand in front of the bench. Place the top of your right sneaker on the seat (A). Bend left knee to almost 90 degrees; knee should not go past toes (B). Straighten leg. Do 15 reps, then switch legs.
Press Place hands on the back of the bench, shoulder-width apart. Step back until body is in a straight line from head to toe (A). Bend arms and lower chest, keeping elbows as close to torso as possible (B). Do 10 reps, then move hands closer together and repeat.
Crunch Sit on the edge of the bench. Place hands on the seat on either side of you and engage abs to lift feet slightly off the ground, knees and ankles forming 90-degree angles (A). While exhaling, pull knees toward chest until lower legs are parallel to the ground (B). Lower down. Do 15 reps.