How to Stay Healthy This Summer
It’s no coincidence that before summer comes, people pack into the gym to try and get a head start on their summer beach body. However, once they get into that bathing suit, many people drop their attempt to be healthy, and instead indulge in all the sweet treats and salty snacks they can get their hands on.
There’s something about summer that makes a dripping popsicle, or bowl of chips and dip an absolute requirement. If you’re still trying to stay healthy, we’ve collected a few tips that will help you enjoy your summer while still treating your body right.
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Curb Your Indulgence of Ice Cream
Ice cream is one of the most decadent treats of summer. It helps cool you down, and most people would be lying if they say they’ve never eaten it instead of dinner. The important thing to remember when it comes to sweet treats like ice cream is moderation.
If you want to go out with friends for ice cream, don’t abstain completely, but limit yourself to a small or child’s size scoop. Most ice cream shops will allow you to choose two flavors in a small scoop, so you still get to taste multiple flavors.
Make Your Own Popsicles Instead of Buying Sugary Freezies
Keeping popsicles or freezies in your freezer each summer is a great way to help fight the heat. They help cool you down and can prevent dehydration at the same time. However, regular freezies and popsicles are completely chock full of artificial preservatives and coloring, as well as excess sugar.
Don’t give up your popsicles completely, but make sure they’re a bit healthier by making them yourself. A plastic mold only costs a few dollars, and you can add in healthy additions like coconut milk, fresh fruit, and herbs.
Get Creative with Grilling
A backyard barbecue is one of the most quintessential gatherings of summer. If you’re trying to eat healthy, there’s no need to abstain from these completely, but when the menu is entirely meat-based, it’s hard to stick to a healthy eating regime.
The next time you’re planning – or invited to – a barbecue, suggest a meal where meat is the star, but not a solo act. Grilled kebabs, or souvlaki sticks make great use of the grill, but also feature plenty of grilled veggies and salads to go alongside. This way, you’ll get a balanced meal.
Take Advantage of the Beautiful Weather to Run Outside
While the gym does hold an allure for many people, once the warm weather comes it can be hard to pull yourself into an over-air-conditioned gym. Or maybe you’re on a family vacation and there isn’t a gym available.
Before giving up completely, ensure that you maintain your exercise routine by looking up some activities you can do with minimal equipment. Look up a good running route around your hotel, or download some yoga videos to do each morning. Advance preparation makes it easier to just get up and go, rather than struggling to think up a good plan when you’re tired or lacking motivation.
Be Mindful of Calories from Alcohol
The start of summer also means the start of patio season, which heralds long, hot, sticky evenings gathered with friends over pints of beer or pitchers of sangria. These gatherings are a fun way to blow off some steam and enjoy the company of your nearest and dearest, but make sure you’re watching how many empty calories your drinks contain.
The average pint of beer contains 180 calories, and a glass of red wine has up to 228 calories. Next time you’re enjoying drinks with friends, drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage. It will cut down on your alcohol intake, and help you avoid dehydration.
Take Advantage of Farmer’s Markets to Try Fresh Produce
It seems so much harder to eat healthy in the winter than it does in the summer. In the summer, fresh produce explodes out of the grocery store and farmer’s markets. From the basics – like lettuce and peas – to things you may not have heard of before – like different varieties of sprouts and heirloom tomatoes.
This summer, explore some new-to-you veggies. If you’re really ambitious, prep, blanche, and freeze a stock of veggies so that you have plenty stored up when winter hits.
Be Mindful of Your Sun Exposure
The sun is a huge mood enhancer, and can make you feel amazing. Well until you come inside and realize that you’ve burned yourself lobster red. The sun is incredibly damaging to your skin over time, so it’s important to remember to put on sunscreen every morning (and reapply throughout the day!), even if you don’t intend to be in the sun for long.
Use long, light layers to shield your body from the sun, and invest in a large, broad-brimmed hat to protect your face. If you’re really sensitive, plan your activities around when the sun is lower in the sky. You’ll want to be indoors or in the shade when the sun hits its peak in the late morning to early afternoon.
Get Out in Nature
There are real, tangible benefits to spending time in nature. In the 1990s, researchers in Japan spent years studying the effects that shinrin-yoku (forest bathing, or simply, spending time outside) had on patients with diabetes. They found that patients who regularly spent time outside had lower stress levels and were generally happier.
Use your free time in summer to explore all the green spaces around your neighborhood. Whether you live downtown or in the country, there’ll be at least a little bit of space where nature flourishes – get outside and enjoy it!
Ground Yourself in Soil
If you’re ready to get more involved in the natural world around you, spend the summer cultivating a garden. It doesn’t have to be much. If you live somewhere without green space, it can be as simple as a few tabletop plants facing a window. Gardening strengthens your muscles. The digging, hoeing, and weed-pulling takes a surprising amount of effort.
Plus, studies have shown that gardening helps patients who are suffering from a mental illness, improving their general outlook and regulating their sleep patterns. In addition to these health benefits, you also literally reap the rewards of fresh fruit, veggies, or flowers for your kitchen.
Take a Vacation
For many professions, summer is the slowest season, and workers often take advantage of this to go on vacation. Even though our fast-paced lifestyle seems to encourage hard work and sacrifice above all else, taking a vacation is still a necessity. Even our political leaders take a summer recess!
Chronic stress can impact your overall health and ability to fight illness. It changes your sleep patterns, alters your mood, and your memory. This summer, take some well-deserved time away from work and stress. If you’re able, head somewhere with no cell service. Even if you take a staycation, turn your phone on silent and put it away during the day. Your body will thank you.
Give Your Hair a Break
Extended exposure to sun, heat, and chemicals from pools can all take their toll on your hair. This summer, give your hair a break by putting away the blow dryer or curling iron, and embracing your natural hair style. Who wants to spend a hot summer morning under a blow dryer anyway?
Some key products to have on hand this summer are an anti-chlorine shampoo, anti-frizz spray (you’ll need it if you tend to have a humid summer), mousse, and some oil to make your hair shine. That’s all you’ll need to give yourself amazing, beach-ready waves.
Prepare for Seasonal Allergies
There’s nothing worse than heading out for a hike or a day at the beach, and finding yourself completely taken over by seasonal allergies. If you’re allergic to pollen, grass, or mold, you’re probably used to this happening. Take charge of your health in advance by stocking up on antihistamines and decongestants.
If you know you’re going somewhere with lots of pollen, take an antihistamine in advance. Plan outings after a rainfall, which will help dampen the pollen and keep it from flying everywhere. If you find that you already have a runny nose, rinse it out with a saline solution to minimize the annoyance.