Songs have been written about the lazy days of summer and Pinterest is full of quotes and pictures about living in your flip-flops and soaking up the sun without a care in the world. I agree that summer is short in northern Michigan and we should seize each day from sunrise to sundown. However, lazy days can turn into unhealthy days if you let them pass without a plan.

Here are a few tips for staying on track with your health this summer and a local story of how summer can be even more fun when you are fit.

1. Don’t fool yourself.

Just being outside is not the same as staying or getting fit. People often say that they are active in the summer, but when you really look at what they are doing, it often involves sitting… at the park, at the beach or at the lake. Sitting outside does not improve your physical fitness. Although enjoying the sunshine and warm breeze is good for your mental health and peace of mind. So, do both. Get outside and move. Furthermore, puttering in the garage or pulling weeds in the garden might seem laborious, but you are likely not getting your heart rate up or improving your stamina. Your body wants and needs more.

2. Do make time for physical activity.

Schedule 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity as many days of the week as you can. Hike, walk, jog, do an exercise video, go to a group fitness class, go to a health club, get out and bike, go play tennis, basketball or swim. Consider water activities like Stand Up Paddle boarding or kayaking. There are lots of local options.

Put your fitness time in your calendar and protect the time. It is so easy to run an errand, do housework, or just sit… it’s harder to get yourself to exercise, but the results are worth it. You’ll have more energy to enjoy your days, you’ll have fewer aches and pains and you’ll live a more fulfilled life.

3. Don’t overindulge on summer sweats.

Ice cream, summer pies and hotdogs on the grill are in full swing. Be smart. Remember this great rule of thumb. Eat 100 percent healthy, 80 percent of the time. Enjoy your treats in moderation. For example, pick one night of the week for your family to get an ice cream cone and stick to it. Daily popsicles and ice cream treats add up quickly with sugar and excess calories. Your kids do not benefit from it and neither do you. Make it a special treat, not a daily habit.

Get more creative on the grill. Hot dogs and hamburgers with white enriched buns might seem like old stand byes, but other healthier options exist, like chicken, fish, veggies and whole grain buns.

4. Do find fit friends to keep you on track.

It isn’t easy to make healthy choices, but it is easier to schedule time for fitness and cook healthier meals when you have support from others. Tell your family and friends that you are working to have your healthiest summer yet and that each choice matters. Choosing water or iced tea over pop or alcohol, choosing fruits over chips, choosing a workout over computer time. Each choice adds up quickly and can get you closer to or farther away from your goal. Ask for support and give it back.

Want to know what a healthier summer can do for you?
Meet Lisa Nowakowski, an Alpena mom who is going to live summer active and happy outside with her son for the first time in a long time. Here is her story.

At 207 pounds, Lisa Nowakowsi was irritable, tired and stressed.

She was juggling life as a single mother, EMT and respiratory therapist. She was eating late at night, not getting enough sleep and never exercised.

Before the age of 40 she was on medication for high blood pressure and tachycardia. Lisa had gone from being the caretaker to the patient.

Her health was out of control, making life harder and more expensive than ever before.

Becoming a member at Bay Athletic Club changed Lisa’s life.

She fits in workouts on her lunch breaks. She runs, lift weights and pushes herself a little further each day. Instead of her mood and energy levels going downhill midday, Lisa now feels recharged for the rest of her day. She also started planning out her nutrition and fuels her body with protein and vegetables throughout the day instead of eating processed food late at night.

In one year, Lisa has lost 60 pounds and 10 dress sizes. She can see her muscles, has energy that lasts all day and an overall peace of mind.

Lisa transformed from a mother who barely got off the couch into a fit mom who loves riding bikes and being in the game instead of on the sidelines with her son. In fact, her 7-year-old son Kyle has told her how much he loves having his “real mom” back.

Lisa and Kyle are setting a great example for others. Fitness inspires happy families and makes the sunny days of summer even better.