When we think of summer, we imagine relaxing by the pool, drinks with tiny umbrellas, the smell of sunscreen, and a beach-ready body. We rarely think or discuss post-summer syndrome: a common condition where our skin is sunburned, our hair is either chlorine- or sun-damaged, and a few extra pounds of fat have magically appeared on our bodies.
It can be difficult to pass up opportunities to indulge in ice cream on a hot summer day or skip going to the gym to drive to the beach with your friends. But maintaining healthy habits will help our bodies function properly, resulting in weight loss, more energy, better mental clarity, and less illness.
As tempting as it can be to take a vacation from your health, it’s important to try and stay healthy. Here are some tips to help you do that while still enjoying your summer “vacay!”
Tip #1: Plan, plan, plan. I’ve heard my mentors say hundreds of times, “proper planning prevents piss-poor performance,” and never do I find this truer than when it comes to my health! This summer, take the time to map out your health plan. Determine your workouts and meals, and shop for all necessary sun gear ahead of time. When traveling, consider pre-packing as much food as possible, and make a list of any perishables you plan to buy once you arrive.
Whether on vacation or at home, prepping your meals for the week reduces stress and adds to the time you get to spend enjoying the beautiful weather!
Tip #2: Pack healthy snacks. Whether you’re taking a short car ride to the park or hopping on a three-hour flight, having healthy, non-perishable snacks on hand can help you avoid ingesting too many sugars, bad fats, and harmful chemicals. Most hotels offer continental breakfasts with highly-processed foods such as pastries and cereals. Having better options on hand will save you time in the mornings and keep you from feeling miserable.
Here are some of the snacks I enjoy:
- Fresh fruit & nut butters
- Seed crackers
- Celery & carrot sticks
- Trail mix
- Homemade energy bars
Tip #3: Commit to three miles or thirty minutes of daily exercise. Just because it’s summer, that doesn’t mean you should stop your workouts! Pick your favorite outdoor activity, such as tennis or swimming, and put it on your calendar. Commit to setting aside thirty minutes each day to get your heart rate up, and you will feel better about yourself and your body!
Tip #4: Skip the sugar. While we may never completely escape the evils of sugar, we can take away its power over our health! Sugar causes weight gain, hormone disruption, increased inflammation, increased pain, and headaches. While I’m an advocate of total sugar elimination, I realize that may not be realistic for everyone. Still, if you’re going to bend or break the rules, you can do so wisely.
Swap out processed desserts for fresh-fruit smoothies. When you’re on vacation, allow yourself just one “cheat meal.” In general, stick to the 80/20 rule, and you should be okay: “80% of the time, make good health decisions, and you can bend the rules during the other 20%.”
Tip #5: Find an accountability partner. We always work better in teams! Find a friend, co-worker or family member to hold you accountable. Schedule times to work out and plan meals together. Surround yourself with positive, health-minded, motivated people, and you are bound to succeed. If you can’t find someone, join us in the office!
Tip #6: Check your summer products. Unfortunately, a lot of commercial-grade products have harmful additives and toxins that can adversely affect your health. My golden rule when it comes to skin products is: if you wouldn’t put it in your mouth, don’t put it on your skin! Here’s what’s in my skin arsenal for summer vacations and outdoor activities:
- Lavender Oil (for bug bites, stings, rashes, etc.)
- Hydrogen peroxide or rubbing alcohol (soak a cotton ball and place in ears to prevent swimmer’s ear and ear infections)
- Fractionated coconut oil and apple cider vinegar (mix with a few drops of lavender oil and rub on sunburn to help soothe and heal)
- Coconut oil or zinc oxide (these are much healthier and safer than traditional over-the-counter sunscreens)
Tip #7: Drink water! Water is the answer for a lot of things, but we always seem to forget! It’s easy to be so consumed by outdoor activities that we dehydrate quickly. Water improves your skin’s appearance, your energy levels, your focus and your bodily functions. You should drink at least half of your body weight in ounces of water each day, and for extra absorption and electrolytes, add a pinch of sea salt.
Most importantly, keep stress levels to a minimum. Summer is a time to relax and rejuvenate. Don’t make yourself crazy by counting every calorie, and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day of exercise. Just try to make the best choices you can, and above all enjoy the time you’ll spend with family and friends.