Your post-COVID summer health tips was first published in My Swiss Story on June 24, 2020.
Summer is almost here! The time when we typically relax and look forward to our well planned holidays. Unfortunately with travel still up in the air, many are wondering what this first COVID summer is going to look like.
It is easy to fall back into bad eating habits brought on by anxiety or even dare I say it – boredom. But just because summer may be a little more subdued this year, it doesn’t mean healthy habits go out the window. How can you stay active and healthy during this season without falling back into old COVID habits?
Cut yourself some slack
We all went through something monumentally crazy these last few months. Some of us sought comfort in not so healthy ways (Costco sized cookies or 12:30 glass of Chardonnay – don’t worry no judgment here). I assure you you weren’t alone. And if that is what you needed to do, whatever works right? For others, it manifested in lack of sleep or binge-watching Netflix (damn Ozark). You could be feeling a bit guilty given your shorts are fitting a bit snugger, and you fear the dreaded pool season. Whatever you are feeling guilty about from these last few months — Like Elsa from Frozen “Let it go!”
So how do we move forward and embrace this uncharted summer season given our dirty secrets from the past few months? First and foremost Take a deep breath and forgive yourself. You have a clean slate starting today. Second, focus on what you have control over – good nutrition, exercise and rest.
Make your Kitchen an “anger-free’ zone
Many of us spent more time then we cared to in our kitchens these past few months. Some days you felt like Julia Child, whipping up something amazing the whole family enjoyed, and other days you couldn’t be bothered to open a can of instant soup.
As nerdy as it sounds it is important to make sure your kitchen is a safe and loving space. You’ve heard the saying don’t drive angry – the same goes for cooking “Don’t cook angry”. Studies have shown that when you are mad or stressed while cooking, your meals don’t taste as well. Crazy right?
Make sure you are mixing in a healthy dose of gratitude and love into your meals. Light a small candle in your kitchen if it helps you focus on the task at hand.
I know for many busy moms, this is easier said than done. Trying to get a meal on the table while your kids are fighting over the Nintendo or having little ones attached to you in the kitchen, makes it hard to get all woo woo about preparing a meal.
I hear from so many clients that by far the toughest part of their day is getting food on the table, let alone a healthy meal everyone can enjoy. Meal planning can take the guesswork out of what to cook and can go a long way in making dinner more mindful and memorable. Check out this resource for some healthy family meals.
In Season for a Reason
I’ve come to embrace the change in seasons head-on in my new home country. I also think it’s a great way to look at your health in small bite-sized pieces. What small steps can you take this season to get you back on track toward your health goals? For me, I take full advantage of the colorful array of fresh fruits and vegetables that summer brings. They are full of antioxidants and vitamins that help heal your body, improve your skin, and satisfy that sweet tooth.
Try incorporating healthy smoothies and fresh salads into your diet this time of year. Make sure you are getting plenty of healthy protein and fats to help you feel full and absorb these vital nutrients. You can try adding a bit of coconut oil to your smoothies or cooked garbanzo beans to your salad for starters.
During the summer months, it’s also a good idea to eat lighter, smaller and more frequent meals. Heavy meals with large amounts of carbohydrates and fats can cause us to feel sluggish and agitated. Focus on fresh fruits and vegetables that have high water content.
Pimp up Your Water
As summer approaches, your body requires more water due to the excessive heat and sweat. Dehydration can cause unwanted health outcomes, so don’t wait until you feel thirsty to drink. Try to drink at least 2 to 3 liters of water every day. It is easy to make plain water more appealing. Try adding seasonal fruit or herbs such as mint or basil to your water. Minimize the amount of alcohol and caffeinated drinks, as they can quickly dehydrate you.
When I was going through my health coaching training, I sugar shamed my husband into cutting back on his daily multivitamin juice habit. You thought fruit juice was healthy right? I mean it comes from fruit?! Both soda and 100% fruit juice pack around 110 calories and 20–26 grams of sugar per cup. At the time my husband drank fruit juice like water. When he stopped drinking it, he lost 5lbs and felt better than ever within a few weeks.
Bottomline: stick with water as much as possible, pimp it up if need be. Carry your own water bottle to help save on unnecessary plastic and fill up where you can.
Ask for Help
You wouldn’t ask your dentist to fix your car would you? So why do we look to celebrities (Kardashians hello?), or your-latest-fad-sister-in-law for health advice? If you are struggling with losing weight or tired of feeling exhausted all the time – reach out to a trusted health professional. The American Society of Training and Development (ASTD) study found that you have a 65% increase of accomplishing a goal if you have someone you are accountable to. This increases if you commit to meeting with that partner regularly.
Getting “healthy” is hard to do on your own. This isn’t your fault, it is because habits are a learned behavior, and are challenging to change. Start with small changes that your brain can quickly learn and repeat; like drinking more water or walking 20 minutes a day. When your goals are broken down into daily actions, consistently repeated, they become learned behaviors that add up to long term success.
That is where a Certified Health Coach comes in. A Certified Health Coach will help you break down your goals into manageable bite-sized pieces that are achievable, while at the same time holding you accountable to your goals. I love helping ex-pat moms navigate the challenges associated with their health shift, so they manage daily tasks with ease, shed unwanted pounds, and end the cycle of exhaustion. Feel free to reach out to me if you are ready to commit to your health goals.
In summary, your perfect summer wellness routine is about progress, not perfection. It’s about making small steps that add up to a lifetime of wellness. Do something every day that is good for your mental and physical health. It is by far the key to long term success. You are in control of your health every day. Make this summer the healthiest yet!