Staying in Good Shape This Summer
by Martha Rogers
Summer is a time of family fun, vacations, parties and holidays. If we’re not careful, we can find ourselves going overboard with food and neglecting the things we need to stay healthy. We want our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual sides to be in complete harmony with one another to help us stay in shape and survive a summer of activity.
Following are tips and suggestions for maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying in shape this summer.
One important point to remember during the hot summer months is to stay hydrated. Being dehydrated leads to medical problems with our systems that can be very dangerous. Drink plenty of water, especially when outdoors. Take a bottle of water with you whenever you leave the house for shopping or errands. If you are outdoors a lot, then more than the recommended 64 ounces will be needed.
Summer is the time so many fresh fruits and vegetables come into the markets. Check out farmers’ markets in your area for the freshest produce. They give you so much more good nutrient value than those that have traveled very far. Remember, the darker the color, the healthier the produce.
Sometimes the pace of summer gets to the point that we eat meals on the run. Slow down and enjoy what you eat. Try to avoid watching TV or reading because this will lead to mindless eating of anything within reach. Put your fork down between bites and savor the goodness of the food.
Exercise is important all year round. Too many of us neglect exercise when the weather gets warmer. Try to vary your routine and combine some indoor activity with outdoor. Little things like parking away from the stores or mall and walking further. Also vary the amount and type of exercise to take care of all parts of the body.
Appetites sometimes have a tendency to increase in the summer months. Curb this by thinking before you eat. Ask if the food is worthy of the amount of calories in it. Will it lead to a binge of that particular food like ice cream or chocolate? Indulging occasionally is not going to ruin anyone, but continually doing so may lead to unwanted weight gain. Fruit is a good substitute for a rich dessert. Sherbet or frozen yogurt is a better choice than ice cream. Grilled or baked is a better choice than fried. All it takes is a little common sense to make healthier food choices that make for a healthier body.
Summer is a good time to vary the diet by trying new foods and new recipes. Switch foods you eat all the time with something new. Try new combinations, and use spices and herbs and other seasonings to give foods new flavor and zest.
Control your intake of sugar and other high carb foods. These may give you energy, but they may also rob you of the nutrients your body needs to stay healthy. Empty calories are just that. They do nothing for the body except add calories. Cancer patients are urged to limit sugar because cancer feeds on sugar. Naturally occurring sugars, such as in fresh fruits, are good for you because of the other nutrients you will get with them.
When you are tempted to go overboard with eating or if an activity tempts you to eat, think of other things you can do to occupy your time and get your mind off food. Working with crossword or jig-saw puzzles keeps the mind busy as do other word or number games. Exercising the brain is as important as exercising the body.
Summer is a time of vacation and parties at the pool or on the deck. Many of them are buffet-style foods, so you can go back as often as you like for something to eat. Before going to one of these, have a plan. Set a boundary or limit for how much you are going to eat and the kinds of food you will eat. Once you eat, stay away from the table. Talk with friends, sit and relax with something to drink in your hands to keep them busy.
Physical health is important, but so are our mental and emotional states. Spending quality time with family can go a long way to help us stay healthy and in tune with our bodies. Sometimes family situations are such that staying away from them may be best. You know what is best for you in that circumstance, so do what you need to do.
Another way to bolster our emotional health and our attitude is being kind toward others. Consider ways you can help others with situations in their lives. Paying it forward has become a popular way for people to perform random acts of kindness. Something as simple as paying for someone’s coffee or paying a toll for the next person in line can have a domino effect that will touch the lives of many people and give you a blessing as well.
Stay in contact with friends with whom you enjoy spending time. Shopping trips, lunch dates, a date at the gym, walking together or having an afternoon break together leads to a healthier outlook on life and many times will satisfy cravings for other things.
We are a four-sided person, and if we don’t take care of all four sides, we run into trouble that can lead to health problems. When we take care of the physical, spiritual and mental sides, we can’t forget the spiritual side. Remembering to Whom we belong and Who holds our future, we will make the right choices that will lead us to a healthier lifestyle and a better relationship with our Lord.
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