Guest post by Heather Rudalavage, RD
With July 4th behind us and August just around the corner, it is officially mid-summer! Just because you never followed through with your plans to be bikini ready by June doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel now.
Why not use the rest of the summer season to make yourself a priority? My prescription: get plenty of exercise followed by rest and relaxation – add SPF 50 and sunglasses and you’ll be a whole new person by Labor Day!
Since the days are longer, it is also the perfect time to try a new sport or outdoor activity. Fresh fruits and vegetables are more easily obtained, especially locally grown produce. And, all that sun and fresh air can really lift your spirits.
Here are 5 health makeover ideas to help you feel at your healthiest all summer long and into the fall!
1. Switch from grocery shopping at a large indoor store to visiting your local farmers or other outdoor market.
Who wants to shiver while they shop inside a large icebox packed with processed foods and chemicals under fluorescent lights? Use the rest of these beautiful summer days to try a local open-air market and give up the chain grocery stores. You’ll get super fresh produce that was likely grown within a 30 mile radius. By purchasing local, you will leave a smaller footprint (less fossil fuels used for transportation) and you will ensure your produce is packed with vitamins and minerals. The longer produce sits the higher chance you have of plant cells dying and taking some of the nutrition with them. You may even have a chance to build community by talking with the farmer who grew the produce. It’s a win -win!
2. Trade in your spinning or other indoor “gym” sport for a new outdoor activity that you haven’t tried but always wanted to.
Maybe it’s time you buy yourself a new bike and try cycling to work. Summer is the perfect time to learn to swim or surf, try out a new trail or start climbing rocks! By challenging your muscles in new ways, and using muscles you didn’t even know you had, you can increase your metabolism, break through a plateau and keep your mind sharp too. Learning a new sport is also a great way to meet new people, which is good for your soul! Try these 10 gym-free fitness ideas.
3. Stop trying to hide your body behind bulky clothing and begin to be proud of your body no matter what size you are.
Begin to act as if you have your dream body. Start by wearing summer tops and shorts instead of hiding in baggy shirts and sweatpants. In recent years, so much has been discovered about the way our brains work. I’ll bet you didn’t realize that when you replace your negative expectations (“I am so big, I’ll never be thin”), with positive expectations (“I love my healthy body”), and when you begin to believe that what you want is possible, your brain will actually take over the job of accomplishing that possibility for you. If you don’t believe me, consider this: in a study to prove the power of a placebo, a group of participants with sore, worn out knees were told they would undergo knee surgery. The doctors anesthetized the patients, made three incisions in the knee as if to insert their surgical instruments and then pretended to operate. Two years after the surgery, participants who had the pretend surgery reported the same amount of relief from pain and swelling as those who had actual knee surgeries. The bottom line here is you have to believe your dream body is possible. Mind over matter!
4. Instead of slaving over a hot stove, eat lighter and fresher using your BBQ or wok.
One of the best things for me in the summer is that I get to turn some of the cooking over to my significant other. There is just something about a man and fire, especially when a beer is involved. It’s easy to grill fresh corn on the cob or other summer vegetables right on the grill. All you need to add is a bit of salt and the natural flavors will burst. Wok cooking became popular in Asian countries because there just wasn’t a lot of fuel (wood) available. They had to create a quick hot flame. When using a wok, meat plays second fiddle to vegetables. Serve with a side of whole grain rice or quinoa and you have a complete easy dinner, that is low in calories and packed with nutrition and flavor without feeling like you ran a marathon because of the heat in the kitchen!
5. Try this easy “child’s pose” to help relax and chill at least once a day.
Kneel on the floor on your hands and knees. Make sure that your hands are under your shoulders and your knees under your hips, with toes touching. Begin to stretch your neck forward and lengthen your spine through the tailbone. Gently rock the weight of your body back toward your feet, letting your hips stretch farther back as you continue to lengthen and stretch your spine. Stretch your arms forward and walk your fingertips as far forward as they will go on the floor or rug, lengthening your arms fully. Extend your hips back until they come toward your heels, and widen your knees apart. If you’re very flexible, you may be able to rest your hips on your heels and your forehead on the floor, otherwise put your forehead on a pillow. Repeat after me, “Ommmm” Check in to make sure your jaw, shoulders, eyes and forehead are loose and not tensed. Doing this pose will help you feel calm, centered and cool even in the busiest of summer days. For the running fans, you can still hit the pavement and beat the heat with these tips.
There you have it, five easy ways to bring a little joy, relaxation and a positive attitude to your summer days. End your summer on a healthy note!
Read more from Intuitive Nutrition.
How do you get your glow on in the summer? What tips do you have to makeover the rest of summer season?