Summer! A season for health.

by Lindsay Maurer

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When most of us think about summer, we think about outdoor fun, vacations, and a chance to kick back. We think barbecues, endless sunny days, and adventure!  Most of us don’t think fitness and clean eating – but we need to!

So what can you do to have the most fun-filled, relaxing, fit summer ever? Make sure to plan all kinds of active adventures.  Camping, fishing, gardening, hiking, taking a walk or going on a bike ride all count as active things to do. Part of summer fun and fulfillment is enjoying the outdoors in addition to enjoying our family and friends. Here are a few tips to avoid sabotaging yourself this summer:

Set a goal. It’s almost the middle of the year and now is a great time to spend a moment reassessing your January resolutions.  How have you done so far in achieving the goals you set for yourself? Do you need to set new ones?  You might have succeeded in some areas and not in others. When setting new goals, I like to use a 30:60:90-day tracker.  Ask yourself, “What do I want to achieve in the next 30, 60 and 90 days and how will I go about doing that?” What will the goals for the next half of the year look like for you? It might be trying a new sport, learning to swim or visiting a national park.

Stick to a schedule and stay busy. Make sure your summer days have some structure, including getting up at the same time each day and eating meals at set times. Changes in routine and having kids at home can easily derail your goals. Plan activities for specific times — exercising before breakfast, for example.  Plan activities every day that get you moving and away from boredom. It’s easy to fall into the trap of being bored during the summer. Being bored goes hand-in-hand with low energy. Filling your days with stuff to do and maintaining a schedule will foster a sense of accomplishment.

For many of us, summer still means going to work each day, but with longer daylight hours, you don’t have to miss out. Take advantage of the cooler evening hours to take a walk, ride a bike, visit a park, or play outside with your kids.  Rig up a bubble machine in the shade and join your kids in the fun of chasing them.  Whatever you do, make sure you’re up and moving at least once an hour.

Whether you work or stay home, make plans with friends to take a short walk, get together for a healthy lunch or to grab a cool drink.  Plan dinners out.  Challenge your neighbors to a water balloon fight!  Make sure that you maintain your schedule throughout the year, that way you won’t lose your healthy habits during the summer months.

Enjoy the bounty our Valley has to offer. Summer is a great time to meal plan and takes full advantage of the beautiful produce that we have in the Valley this time of year.  Take some time to notice what is in season and try a new recipe.  Go online and look up great ideas for healthy and cool treats.  Join a Co-Op and support our local farmers.  Check out the farm stands in Palisade, or even better, take a bike ride through Palisade! Limit the amount of “treat foods” that you see at summer barbecues by filling your plate with grilled meats and fresh fruits and vegetables.  Drink plenty of water and other non-sugary drinks to stay hydrated.

Manage the heat. Although warmer weather is appreciated, hot days can seem unbearable. During these times, move your activities inside. Go to the gym or try stand-up paddle boarding.  When you find yourself outdoors during extreme temperatures, remember to take precautions. Wear sunscreen and/or a long-sleeve breathable shirt to protect your skin from harmful sun rays. Don’t forget the sunglasses and hat, too. Clothing that wicks away moisture from your skin keeps you cooler as you perspire. If you have kiddos in a stroller, make them some cooling gel packs to put behind their back. It’s squishy, so it is not uncomfortable to lean against and because it is frozen it will keep baby nice and cool without being too cold.

You can make your own gel packs by combining a few simple ingredients that most of us have around the house. Here is what you need:

  • 1 quart or 1-gallon plastic freezer bags (depending on how large you want the cold pack)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup rubbing alcohol

Instructions:

  1. Fill the plastic freezer bag with 1 cup of rubbing alcohol and 2 cups of water.
  2. Try to get as much air out of the freezer bag before sealing it shut.
  3. Place the bag and its contents inside a second freezer bag to contain any leakage. Leave the bag in the freezer for at least an hour.
  4. IMPORTANT!! When it’s ready, place a towel between the gel pack and bare skin to avoid burning the skin.

An alternative filler is simply to use dish soap, which has a gel-like consistency and will also freeze/retain the cold.

Make the most of every day, and this summer will be your best ever!

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