Get ready for summer

The Doctors | 4/27/2013, 8 p.m.


Don't read while you eat.

No watching TV either, or playing on your iPad, or doing anything that diverts attention from your dish -- staying focused may help curb calories. Researchers at the University of Liverpool analyzed two dozen previous studies of normal-weight people and found those whose who ate while distracted not only consumed more of the food in front of them, but even more of a later meal. Attentive eating could play a role in weight loss and maintenance. Of course, what you eat takes center stage: Choose fruits, vegetables and lean proteins; opt for low-fat dairy and whole-grain products; up your fiber intake; limit sugar; and drink lots of water.

Use your body as weights.

No need for high-tech gym equipment to get into shorts-and-tank-top shape: Push-ups, planks, lunges and other exercises that use your body as resistance work just as well, and they're more popular than ever. This back-to-basics approach to muscle-strengthening emerged as a top fitness trend for 2013, according to a survey from the American College of Sports Medicine.

Body weight training doesn't cost a dime, requires little or no gear, and can be done anywhere. Do it two or three times a week to tone muscles and help your body burn calories better; combine it with a regular cardio routine to boost energy and shed extra pounds. Talk to your doctor before starting any new workout routine; it's also a good idea to try a class or see a personal trainer to learn new bodyweight training moves and make sure you're using proper form.

Apply sunscreen, then bug spray.

The first helps protect you from the harmful ultraviolet rays that cause most of the 3.5 million skin cancers diagnosed each year; the latter reduces exposure to mosquito bites that may carry viruses such as West Nile, which can cause serious illness. Use both, but be sure to put them on in the right order.

First, rub a generous amount of sunscreen into clean, dry skin before heading outdoors (choose one with broad-spectrum protection, an SPF of at least 30, and water-resistance). Give the sunscreen 15 minutes to fully absorb; then lightly mist your skin with insect repellant. DEET- and picaridin-based sprays typically provide the longest-lasting protection, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); if you prefer plant-based repellants, oil of lemon eucalyptus works longer than others.

The CDC does not recommend using all-in-one sunscreen and bug sprays, however, because the products are meant to be used differently: sunscreen, for example, needs to be reapplied about every two hours (or after swimming or sweating); repellant is typically re-sprayed only if you're being bitten. Plus, some research suggests using sunscreen and bug sprays at the same time leads to an increased absorption of the pesticide.

Stock up on watermelon.

It's a favorite hot-weather snack among nutrition experts, and for many good reasons: The refreshing fruit is 92% water (so it helps you stay hydrated) and it's packed with lycopene, an antioxidant that may help reduce risk of certain cancers.