Yay! Quarantine is over! Masks are coming off! The weather is improving and we can be outdoors, take trips, send our kids to summer camp. The last thing most of us want to do is add restrictions and start a “diet” over the summer, even if we may have lost some of our wellness foundations over the past year or two. In fact, our brains do not respond well to change when we are under stress. It’s no surprise then, when we are asked to throw everything out of our kitchen cabinets, go dairy and sugar free, workout 2x a day, and avoid alcohol, that our systems would go into “fight or flight” and resist this change at every cost.
With these feelings, it’s natural to worry about your wellness journey coming to a full-stop. After all, we are all in a celebratory mood, and it’s tempting to just throw it all out the window and worry about this stuff in September. However, the feelings of guilt and shame that follow several months of avoiding self-care and healthy habits trump the freedom of summer almost every time.
The good news is that there are a host of ways to stay on the dial without restricting, sacrificing and stressing all season long.
Focus On Your BAMS
BAMs or Bare Ass MInimums are practices you can do almost every day with little to no effort. Some examples are:
- Drink enough water
- Some form of movement
- A minimum serving of vegetables
- A minimum serving of protein
- Five minutes of meditation
Create your own list for summer-- one that you feel you can do every day, regardless of circumstance. It can be insanely easy and small because the idea is just to keep you on the wellness continuum and allow you to have a PLAN B, when you want to indulge or life just gets in the way of your routine.
While summer may not be the time for BIG action, it can be a time to collect data and get to know yourself better. While I don’t recommend tracking your macros, there are other data points you can use to discover some patterns that you may want to address when you’re ready for change.
The ATE app is a tool that allows you to take pictures of your meals and focus not on WHAT you are eating but HOW you are eating. This can be an invaluable look into emotional eating, eating too quickly or mindlessly, and not eating enough so that you are ravenous at other times of the day
Any fitness tracking can also be helpful to examine your non-exercise movement (or NEAT). Many of us have become much more sedentary during the pandemic. Getting a good look at your daily movement can provide some opportunities for growth and change.
Vessel Health is a company that analyzes your urine for certain health markers such as vitamins, minerals, hydration and stress levels. It’s super easy to use and can provide some insight into where your diet and activity may be lacking.
Focus On Whole Foods
I never ask my clients to restrict their diets. Instead, we focus on ADDING healthier foods into the mix. If you DO want to focus on a food goal for the summer, try upping your servings of protein and non-starchy veggies with each meal.
Listen To Yourself
Meditation - even 5 minutes of just sitting in a chair - can be a wonderful way to calm the body and cease emotional eating. So many of our daily behaviors come from the inability to sit with discomfort. We push it away rather than acknowledge it. Learning to sit still and observe your thoughts is the first step to accepting our uncomfortable emotions. You can also work on being kinder to yourself over the summer. Attempt to speak to yourself like you would to your child or best friend. Offer yourself some self-compassion as we all re-enter the world.
Nourish Your Body and Soul
We are all starved for human interaction and community after being shut in for such a long time. Finding a new boutique exercise studio, working out with friends, or simply taking a walk with someone in nature is just what we need right now. Learning a new sport with others can provide a sense of community and create new neural pathways that strengthen the mind and spirit. (I’m taking a women’s mountain biking clinic as well as golf lessons with others this summer.) Joining a small studio where you receive personal attention and meet new people can also nurture your soul. This can be a perfect alternative to a big box gym that may feel intimidating.
Not one of these suggestions have anything to do with restriction. You can enjoy your summer to the fullest while still cultivating wellness and creating a solid foundation to step up your journey when you’re ready.
Enjoy the sunshine!