Summer Vacation means different things to different people. But for most of us, Summer certainly means a shift in our regular schedules and routines. This can be a welcome change at first, but after a while it may lead to us abandoning some of our healthy self-care practices. Traveling can be an exhilarating adventure but it can also derail even the best of intentions when it comes to nutrition and exercise. The following are 10 easy tips to help beat the heat, stay on track, and make the most of your Summer.
Hydration. When the mercury rises it is important to get enough clean, pure water. Most adults need 3-4 liters per day to stay hydrated. During the summer, I love infusing my water with fresh organic lemons and mint. Not only does it taste wonderful and refreshing, but it also provides an alkaline boost of phytochemicals. Naturally caffeine-free teas such as Organic Rooibos also make delicious and cooling iced teas. I like to brew a big batch double-strength before I go to bed and in the morning the tea is ready to be poured over ice with lemon and stevia (if you like) and be sipped throughout the day.
Eat Seasonally. The change of season certainly calls for a shift in our what we eat. Swap out heavy winter meals for lighter fare, favoring raw vegetables, salads, and chilled soups. When it comes to protein, avoid heavy acid-forming meats and cheeses and opt for wild fish and pastured eggs that are rich in omega-3s and nourishing essential fatty acids. Summer is a great time to try new recipes and explore your creativity in the kitchen. Visit your local farmer’s markets and get inspired by the variety of seasonal produce.
Sleep In! Try to bank some extra z’s during the summer. Your immune system, hormones, and waistline will thank you! A chronic sleep deficit can wreak havoc on your health, mainly by hijacking your hormones, specifically ghrelin, leptin, cortisol and insulin. Ghrelin and leptin control your hunger and satiety cues, so on top of being tired and cranky, you may also feel “hangry” and have a tendency to overeat and binge when you are sleep deprived. Cortisol, our bodies main stress hormone, also increases when you skimp on sleep, increasing appetite and causing you to store fat, especially around the waist. Finally, lack of sleep increases insulin resistance, which leaves excess glucose in the bloodstream causing it to be stored as fat instead of being burned for energy. In a nutshell, committing to 7-8 hours per night can do wonders for your health and help you look better in your bikini!
Avoid Summer’s Dirtiest Duo: chemical sunscreen and bug spray. Conventional Sunscreen and Insect Repellant contain some of the scariest, carcinogenic, neurotoxic chemicals on the market. Most popular bugsprays such as “OFF!” contain DEET, which has been shown to cause neurological damage to humans, especially in children. There are many natural alternatives that utilize a blend of essential oils, such as Purification by Young Living Essential Oils, or their newly released Insect Repellant. While its important to protect your skin from overexposure to the sun, most sunscreens contain chemicals such as avobenzone, homosalate, octyl salicylate, and oxybenzone (BP-3), which are known endocrine disruptors. There are some great “clean” brands on the market now or you can even make your own with simple ingredients like coconut oil, shea butter, beeswax, zinc oxide and raspberry oil and get the same effect without the downsides. Check out this link for an easy recipe and other suggestions.
Shift your fitness routine. Don't let the fact that the kids are home from school or the rising temperatures be an excuse to cancel your workout. For example, if you are a runner and find yourself skipping your regular runs, try early morning or evening runs to beat the heat. Even better, try something new. Explore new dance or yoga classes at your local gym or on Classpass and get out of your comfort zone.
Travel Smart. Traveling exposes us to new ideas, cultures and yes foods! By all means indulge in the local cuisine, but do so mindfully. Try to keep a balance between foods that you know work for you body and new, exotic flavors. Focus on fresh vegetables and clean, local proteins. Depending on where you are traveling, especially outside of the United States, you will find that most traditional foods are actually healthy and contain real, whole food, ingredients.
Take a vacation from social media. Even if your summer plans don't include an exotic getaway or an overseas adventures, you can still give yourself a stress-relieving gift by taking a vacation from the ever-present world of Social Media. In this day and age, doing a Digital Detox is just as important and necessary for your mental and emotional wellbeing as doing a Cleanse is for your physical health. How does one go about this? A good place to start is to turn off all notifications on your phone. Even better, I dare you to temporarily delete all the apps from your smartphone, and use your phone…as a phone, to call people. Remember what that was like? Make your bedroom an electronic-free zone. Bedrooms are for sleeping and love-making only! If you're out doing something and feel the urge to post a picture, simply close your eyes and sink in to the moment. Take a mental snapshot for yourself, not your followers. Set a cut-off time for checking email and don't look at a screen for at least the first hour upon waking. At the very least, cut your personal internet usage in half and replace that with fun quality time spent with people you love. Doing some or all of these digital detox protocols for a week or more will absolutely rewire your brain and nervous system. You will feel more relaxed, happy and grateful…just like a vacation does…no passport required.
Summer Clean. If you missed the opportunity in the Spring, Summer is a great time to clean house. Clearing clutter is a fantastic antidote to the dog days of summer. Focus on the high-traffic areas of your home where things tend to pile up…entryways, kitchen, garage. Take time to put winter clothes into storage to free up room in your closet. Take inventory of your pantry items and toss anything that has expired or donate items that are unused. Give the outdoor spaces in your home some extra love so you can enjoy them more during the warmer months.
Set a goal. Summer is a nice chunk of time for you to set and achieve a goal. Perhaps you have a big goal in mind that you haven't been able to attack because it seems unattainable. Chunk it down into smaller pieces and create a timeline for yourself. Then create smaller action steps that you can take to get closer to this goal. For example if you have always wanted to become a fabulous home cook, set yourself a goal for month one of trying one new recipe per week. Buy a cookbook or browse recipes online. Explore farmers market for fresh ingredients and start experimenting in the kitchen. By month two, you will have gained confidence and will start to feel more comfortable. By month three, you will be cooking for yourself on a daily basis and have mastery over many different recipes and you might consider inviting friends over to try your cooking!
Have fun. Remember how much you looked forward to Summer when you were a kid? Think about what made summer so fun for you and try to recapture that joy in some way. Most importantly, don't over schedule your summer. Make sure you have enough time to do NOTHING. Just be in the moment, soak up gratitude and CHILL OUT.