It’s official! Summer is finally here, and that means pool parties, barbecues, and weekends at the pool or lake with your friends and family are probably all on your schedule this summer.
As fun as each of those activities sounds, it’s imperative to make sure that you’re not allowing them to wreak havoc on your health and physique. Over-indulging in less-than-healthful food, drinking way too much alcohol, and frying yourself in the sun can all cause major health issues.
That said, there’s definitely ways to make sure that all of these summer activities are helping you reach your goals instead of keeping you from reaching them.
Check it out below!
• Get outside and move!
We all know that in the dead of a dreary winter, the last thing you want to do is go to the gym or be active. It’s usually dark when you go to work, and dark when you head home. All you want to do is hole up on your couch with a cup of hot cocoa and watch movies every night.
But summer? Summer evenings are gorgeous, and it’s usually light until 9 pm. Make good use of this weather by taking long walks, or going on leisurely hikes or bike rides. This can be done 3-4 times a week, and is great for your body and your mind.
If you are already pretty active and really want to step it up a notch, find a giant hill and do hill sprints for 20-40 yards! Hill sprints are exactly what they sound like. You sprint up the hill as fast as you can, you walk back down, and you repeat for 6-12 total sprints. Keep in mind that these can be very hard on the body and are not for beginners. Start a bit more slowly and with less total sprints as you can always ramp it up if you need to. Limit hill sprints to 1-2 days a week to allow your body to recover.
And if you find yourself by the water, spice things up a bit and try your hand at a new watersport like waterskiing, wakeboarding, or beach volleyball.
• Take advantage of the vegetation!
Summertime usually means lots of fresh and amazing fruits and vegetables that are locally grown and absolutely delicious. You can find these at most local health food stores, your neighborhood Farmer’s Market, or even a road-side fruit and vegetable stand.
Pair these fresh veggies with local sources of protein and fat like free-range eggs, grass-fed beef, pasture-raised chicken, avocado, and grass-fed butter at most meals.
Not only will this local fare be delicious, but it will be chock-full of good nutrition as the fruits and veggies will be much fresher, and therefore more nutrient-dense.
• Soak up the sun!
OK, maybe don’t soak up too much sun, but definitely get a little sun exposure. Sun exposure has gotten a bad rap over the years because most people don’t know how to get sun responsibly.
Most people fall into 3 categories:
• Chronic under-exposers:
People who tend to be very fair-skinned and never go out in the sun. If they accidentally get sun, they typically burn very badly because they are not adapted to the sun at all.
• Chronic over-exposers:
People who always over-do the sun and constantly have a very brown, leathery appearance to their skin. They always get too much sun, and actually get upset if they don’t burn at least a little bit.
• Erratic over-exposers:
People who try to avoid the sun, but end up “giving in” and sunbathing occasionally, usually for vacations, weddings, and reunions. They often burn because they are not adapted to the sun, but they get impatient and try to get a tan very quickly for a specific event.
You see, in the appropriate dose, the sun is very nourishing to the skin and the body. There is a reason that a dose of sunshine lifts your mood instantly. It’s good for you! It boosts “feel-good” hormones like serotonin, and it helps the body produce vitamin D which is critical to overall health. But like anything else, in an extreme doses, it can cause long-term damage.
For most people, 10-20 minutes of unprotected sunshine over a large area of their body, 2-3 days a week is a good start. If you have darker skin, you may need more, if you have lighter skin, you may need less. You are better off starting with less sun exposure and gradually working your way up, than getting a sunburn.
As you can see, the summer can be the perfect season to get in the best shape of your life! You just have to take advantage of all it has to offer in a responsible manner, and you’re sure to look and feel amazing in no time!
Molly Galbraith C.S.C.S.
Molly Galbraith is a certified strength and conditioning specialist from Lexington, Kentucky and co-founder of the wildly popular Girls Gone Strong group, a movement dedicated to changing the way women train.
She is also co-founder of J&M Strength and Conditioning, one of the most highly regarded private studio gyms in the country for training women.
Her mission is to, ”Help women discover what their best body looks and feels like, with minimal time and effort, and once they discover that, help them give themselves grace and compassion about it.”
She has been an expert contributor to magazines like Oxygen and Experience Life, and she’s no stranger to the gym herself. She he has competed in both figure and powerlifting and her best lifts include a 275-lb. squat, a 165-lb. bench press, and a 341-lb. deadlift.
You can find out more about Molly by visiting her website, and you can keep up with her latest adventures on Facebook and Twitter.