Summertime in Australia is an iconic cultural establishment! So much of our summer revolves around enjoying the great outdoors – from having a barbie (that’s BBQs for anyone else) with family and friends, Christmas somewhere like Noosa main beach or New Years Eve fireworks in Sydney Harbour!
I got together with some of our team here at Living Valley Springs Health Retreat and asked them to share a few tips to help you get the most out of your summer…
Treat your body to rest and relaxation
Sleep is the ultimate form of relaxation. Your body has worked hard all year and it deserves a break. Summer is the perfect time of year to really enjoy those early morning starts, but it may mean getting to bed well before midnight. The sleep hormone, Melatonin, is a powerful antioxidant produced during sleep, in darkness, and peaks during the hours before midnight. To slow down the ageing process and to promote the repair and maintenance of your body ensure you are making the most out of your summer sleeping habits.
Increase water intake
Water is the most essential nutrient in the human body as it plays a central role in balancing the fluids of the body, hydrating tissue, removing toxic waste, carrying nutrients into cells and in energising muscles. During the warmer summer months, the need for water becomes even more vital as our level of activity increases. Adequate hydration is even more necessary during the times of extra alcohol and caffeine consumption. These diuretics increase the output of water through the kidneys, leaving the body’s tissues, organs and skin dehydrated. Drink plenty of water on rising and then be sure to drink more at regular intervals throughout the day.
Make exercise fun!
Make the most of the long summer days by getting out early and exercising before the day starts to really warm up. Summer is the perfect time to be shedding any extra weight that has accumulated through the colder months. Instead of adding on a few kilos’ during the Christmas period, start the New Year looking and feeling great. Be an instigator and organise a group of friends for a bush walk, mountain climb or even games on the beach after the sun goes down. Games of cricket, Frisbee and other simple ball games encourages good fun, quality time and increases oxygen levels. Make the most out of water sports by taking your kids to the local pool or beach and maybe even learn how to surf or join a rowing team.
Get out in the sunshine
In one of Australia’s largest Vitamin D studies it was found that at least 58% of Australians are vitamin D deficient due to minimal sun exposure and low dietary fat intake. With the excessive marketing of ‘Slip, Slop, Slap’ and more time spent in doors or under shade, we as a nation are no longer getting the necessary dose of 20 minutes of sunshine daily. As Australians we pride ourselves on our abundance of long, hot summer days. So take time this holiday season to focus on boosting your health with the simple, and economical, benefits that sunshine offers. Vitamin D is essential for kick-starting your immunity, building healthy bones, regulating hormones, balancing the nervous system and facilitating weight loss.
The summer period which surrounds Christmas and New Years in Australia can be a time of great excesses, in both spending and in alcohol and food consumption. To get the most out of your summer, make the principle of moderation a serious consideration before embarking on a shopping spree, eating binge or a series of late nights partying. Enjoying yourself does not necessary have to hurt your savings or your health. Have a breakfast out with friends instead of a dinner. The cost of a breakfast tends to be less expensive than dinner and less likely to include alcohol consumption. You also avoid a late night and going to sleep on a full stomach, both of which promote weight gain. It’s ok to spurge sometimes, but make it an exception and not the rule. For those of you who do take your health very seriously, approaching the festive seasons can be a little tricky. When out and about, simply select the healthiest option available and don’t stress, as this can often be more harmful to your health in the long term.
Clean out the clutter
Start the New Year with a fresh start! Summer is a great time for getting rid of built up clutter in your home and yard and also in your social calendar. Make a decision about what is essential and what you can let go of. By clearing away the accumulation of the years clutter you can make room for fresh ideas, healthier habits and space to grow. Consider your emotional health and the successes and trials you have experienced throughout the past year. Focus on what you have learnt and use those new skills to plan out another year. Leave behind any negative thoughts or behaviours that will hold you back in this next phase of your journey.
Keep healthy snacks accessible during the flurry of the holidays, as it can be very easy to get caught up eating fast foods that are high in bad fats and sugar. Set aside a small amount of prep time to chop up some veggie sticks and make hummus or beetroot dips. You could even make a large batch of mini meatballs and have soft cheeses accessible for a quick, nutrient dense, filling snacks. Take them with you when you know you will not have access to balanced meals so you don’t have to stress about what you are going to eat when hunger kicks in. This will also help you to avoid skipping meals and missing out on much needed nutrition to keep your metabolism burning. It is also a good idea to invest in a glass or BPA free plastic water bottle to take with you when you leave the house. This will help reduce the craving for snacking when all you need is hydration and will prevent the risk of purchasing drinks that are high in sugar.
Make summer a time of exploration and adventure. Get outside of your comfort zone and expand your horizons. And the beauty is that you may not have to go far. Be a tourist in your own town and explore the places you rarely ever go such as the local national parks, museums and heritage walks. Take the time for discovery, which often involves slowing down your pace and actually noticing what is around you. Be appreciative of what you already have and build upon it by getting to know more about your surroundings and the people you come into contact with everyday. Summer is a great time to make new friends and to cultivate the friendships you already have. Consider joining in simple community projects and enjoy the satisfaction that comes from serving others.
Making the most out of your summer could not be achieved without spending quality time with friends and family. Socialising, however, can come at a cost to your health – but it doesn’t have to. Make the holiday season special by creating delicious, wholesome, home-style meals. Entertain your friends and family in our own homes where portion size and menu content can be controlled. Create your own healthy platter to bring to social occasion. That way you are sure to have something nutritious to eat from. Focus on slowing down your eating when engaging in social meals. Even if you need to put your fork down in-between each bite, this will help you be aware earlier of when you are actually satisfied.
Set goals and make a NEWSTART!
Why wait until January? Start your resolutions now to allow you more time to begin implementation! Setting goals is essential for achieving long-term success. When it comes to getting results, good intentions are not enough. We never intend on putting on a few extra kilos or expect to find ourselves with too much on our plate to handle, but without good guidelines and goals it can easily happen. Take the time out to plan your year and think about what you would like to achieve. Set realistic goals and create an environment that promotes success. For example if weight loss or healthy eating is your goal, remove all temptations from your home and workplace and stock the shelves with good wholesome foods. Subscribe to free online health newsletters, blogs and Facebook pages that are going to encourage and motivate you throughout the year – some of our favourites to get you started: Sarah Wilson, Christine Cronau, the LVS blog and Facebook page.
Special thanks to April Patane and Jessica Gaunt for contributing to this post!