The Summer of Wellness

Summer always brings a sense of freedom. I love the long days, the warm air, and the endless opportunities to get outside and play. School’s out, traffic is lighter, the smell of barbecue is prevalent, pools are open for the season…it just gives me that really great feeling of nostalgia (school’s out for summer, and yes, I sang that) as well as an appreciation for nature and time with family and friends. Summer is also a time for traveling, connecting, sun kissed skin, the smell of sunscreen and coconut oil…can you tell I absolutely LOVE summer? Well, I do.

Summer is also the time I like to let my guard down when it comes to my wellness goals. I’d been in hiding and in the gym all winter/spring long getting ready for this exact season. I mean…we all want the beach bikini body, right? Ever heard the phrase “summer bodies are made in the winter?” Well, for many, that’s very true. Weddings, class reunions, family, vacations. They all ring warm weather and hot bodies. Who wants to spend time in the gym or on a diet with all that going on, right? Stay ready so you don’t have to get ready, right?

Guess what? I hate that phrase about summer bodies. It just sends the wrong message. What I hear is…diet and workout all winter so you can LOOK sexy for the summer. Where in that is there a message for building a lifestyle that’s sustainable? 

Want to know how I know all about it? I’ve been guilty of it….over and over. 

I know how to lose weight. That’s easy. Calories in vs. calories out. Lift weights. Eat clean. Drink your water. But what’s the ultimate end game? Is it just the summer body? I can tell you, summer is where things start to change for me year after year. I’ve lost the weight, I look “good” in my swimsuit, I indulge with my friends, still in the gym but with a different attitude. Then the weight just creeps back up. It’s not on purpose…it just happens.

The big issue I have with the weight loss industry is it always tries to promote quick fixes and diets that are seemingly one size fits all. We see what works for someone else and we try it, it works but then fails us later. I’m here to tell you that has to stop here and now.

This year, instead of operating on a diet, I took on the mindset of Intuitive Eating. Intuitive Eating is an approach where you learn your body and eat when you’re hungry. It also teaches how to learn your cravings and how to satiate them. You have permission to indulge when needed, while learning how not to overindulge. I coupled that with Mindful Eating. Mindful Eating is being present with your body as you eat. This takes a little more time and is a bit more challenging. When eating….eat. That’s it. Don’t watch TV (I do from time to time still, but not as much), don’t send emails or scroll through social media, chew your food and really enjoy the flavors. It prevents you from tapping out of the body. Stop every few minutes, put your fork down and do a tummy check. You may realize you’re full and that’s ok…stop eating. I promise, with practice, it works.

While I haven’t lost the insane amount of weight I have in the past when getting ready for summer, I have connected to my body in a way that feels good and makes sense. I don’t feel the need to overdo it this summer because I haven’t deprived myself. Also, my weight is regulating itself. My body is settling in and it feels really good. I don’t feel bloated. I don’t feel hungry. I don’t feel stressed. I’m just enjoying all the seasons as I should. YOU SHOULD TOO! 

Here are a few tips to get you started on this journey:

  1. Eat whole foods based meals. Centering your meals and snacks around real foods makes all the difference. Make sure that you are incorporating greens, proteins, healthy fats, and carbs (some are going to occur in veggies, fruits, beans, nuts, etc.) It’s all about colorful, flavorful, real food. 
  2. Eat in season. This only enhances the flavor of the food you’re consuming. I have gotten a better grasp of what’s in season since starting, but if you need help, Pinterest is a great resource. Veggies and fruit have seasons of bloom and eating what’s freshest always tastes so much better than just eating based off a routine.
  3. Find a farmer’s market or CSA. If you have a hard time knowing how to shop, the farmer’s markets are amazing for that. Better yet, a CSA will sometimes deliver to your door and always has fresh, seasonal foods for you to indulge. 
  4. Eat at local restaurants. Don’t love to cook? That’s ok. The best places to go when eating out are locally owned places. They have a higher tendency to use local ingredients and have the freshest sources. Keep in mind eating whole foods as a base. Don’t take your phone in the restaurant. Be present. Enjoy your time with the food and the atmosphere. Share plates with friends if you want to try different things. Eating alone? Order complete meals and enjoy until you’re satiated. To go boxes are your friend.
  5. Indulge. Yep…indulge. If you want a burger and fries, have it. If you want nachos, have them. When using mindful eating, you won’t over consume and it’s okay to treat yourself. The point is to get out of following rules set by others and learning your own body’s rules. You’ll know when it’s time to eat those tasty treats. You’ll also know when it’s not worth it.
  6. Exercise matters. It does. You have to have some form of movement in any journey. The point is to find a program that works for you. Find something you can do 2x/week, then grow from there. Sometimes people jump into a fierce routine and make themselves susceptible to injury…don’t do that. If you’re a novice, you may want a small environment where more attention can be paid to the movement. The point is learning how to move your body efficiently and effectively.
  7. Monitor how you feel. If you’re new to this, food journaling can be beneficial. This is different from calorie counting. Food journaling is more about what you ate and how you feel, not how much or the calories. If you notice patterns, make note of them. We all have small intolerances. Knowing what works for you…is an inside job. No advice column can tell you how certain foods will react with your unique body.

As we approach the official first day of summer, I hope you have a balanced approach to your wellness goals. Always remember, it’s a lifestyle, not a look. YOU are beautiful and have all the tools to WERK Your Curves.

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