Finally, summer. Enough said.
Further remarks may be completely unnecessary, however I’m never one to let brevity stand in the way of additional commentary.
There’s no better time of year to establish inroads to better health. Fresh, local produce and warm evening walks are exactly what the doctor ordered.
After enjoying a few balmy evenings take some time to set the stage for new healthy behaviors.
Long weekends — With good planning and the occasional well-placed stat holiday, summer vacation can stretch into weeks. All good, right? Sure, if you can keep one foot grounded in reality.
Enjoy picnics and pool parties but remember, ice cream and beer shouldn’t become daily staples. A treat is only a treat when it has a special time and place. Beyond that it’s a habit. (By the way, ‘evening’ doesn’t qualify as a special time and place.)
Tip: Pick your cheat day, enjoy it and stick to it. Beyond that, if you’re attending a party with limited healthy options, eat before you go so that you aren’t cornered into eating junk.
Vegan road trips — With veganism on the rise, plant-based options are fast becoming normalized. And don’t think big business hasn’t noticed. As veggie options become tastier and more available, highly processed vegan fast food and frozen treats will eventually compete on par with animal-based junk food.
A vegan classification doesn’t automatically translate to healthy or weight loss. After all, chips, fries and some pretty darn good deserts are vegan. (You can bet food manufacturers are working diligently to make kale taste like hot dogs.)
Tip: Don’t switch one obsession for another. Highly processed food, both vegan and animal, are on every health practitioner’s naughty list. A recent study showed that more than four daily servings of highly processed food increased mortality risk by 62 per cent (that’s a bowl of breakfast cereal, a muffin, a soda and luncheon meat).
If your lunch doesn’t come from the ground or off of trees it’s probably packed with stuff you can’t pronounce or process. Indulge sparingly.
Monday mornings — Wild weekends result in poor performance on Monday — yes, even with a day of sobriety as a buffer. Chances are you are still undernourished (but overfed), dehydrated and lacking in quality sleep.
I could suggest abstinence but that advice is usually diluted by the first round of beer and nachos. A few rounds later you are a little chubbier with a few less brain cells. (Note to foodies: beyond the price tag, fine wine paired with artisan cheese is no different than suds and chips.)
Tip: When coming off a weekend bender (or transitioning from a fashionable wine-tasting soirée), spend the next day downing water, napping, choosing nutrient-dense foods (I hear they have kale that tastes like hot dogs) and getting in a little physical activity. You may still be less than 100 per cent by Monday but you will shorten your recovery time.
Conscientious exercise abstainers — Hate the whole workout scene? When asked to rate his mood at the beginning of a workout a client recently stated, “general malaise.” When asked again at the end he stated, “malaise.” While exercise is the answer to many problems, not everyone is a fan.
For those abstainers in the crowd there’s good news. According to Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, moving even for a few minutes a day will improve your health.
Tip: Think of it this way, formal exercise (lifting weights, etc.) improves performance and aesthetics, among many other things. General health comes from getting out of your chair and doing something (climb the stairs, walk to the store). If you’re lucky, one will lead to the other.
Doing it all — The problem with many trainers is they don’t understand or respect learner readiness. Beginners require sequential primary learning experiences. Tackling advanced exercise too early causes soreness, frustration and failure. Mastery is a gradual process that demands time and patience.
Tip: When starting out, take it slow. Enjoy summer activities such as walking, bike riding and gardening so that you are ready to head indoors this fall and hit the weights. Also, select your trainer carefully. Lower volumes allow private practitioners time to understand and guide clients. Beginners can easily become lost in large gyms.
As you prepare for summer fun don’t forget to schedule physical activity. Good health makes everything better.