In just a few days, on the 21st, it’s going to be summer! Most, if not all, students are out of school by now, and families are preparing for vacations and general relaxation. One thing to be mindful of, however, is your health! Life may slow down a bit, but your health is a year round thing. Just like Christmas and New Year, it can be easy to be a bit lax in your routines, like with diet and exercise. Here are some tips to keep yourself going through the summer, while still enjoying the vacation.
Start with a healthy diet!
A healthy diet doesn’t necessarily mean not enjoying dessert or a good barbeque, but there are little ways that you can still enjoy summer parties while still feeding your body the right foods. Here are a few suggestions:
- Watch portion sizes. It’s easy at a party or on a cruise ship to try all the different appetizers available (“grazing” is the term I use for this), but be mindful of how much you’re actually eating! Put a serving on your plate, then walk away.
- Eat complex carbohydrates. Chips and dip is my personal weakness, but it’s just empty carbs and fat. A better option is the summer berries like blueberries, raspberries, and blackberries. They’re higher in fiber, so you feel full, and it takes longer for your body to break down so you get more nutrients. Melons, apples, and bananas are good choices too, but be careful as they’re also higher in sugars. An easy meal is a salad with tangerines, almond slivers, and chopped chicken – then add a small serving of chips on the side.
- Pack lunches. Not only is it cheaper when you go to theme parks, but packing lunches is a good way to stay a bit healthier when your alternative is park food. Disneyland is great, but you can get into a lot of trouble with those bakeries!
- Stay hydrated. It sounds easy, and everyone says it, but this is really an important part of your health. Check back on Thursday for some more tips and information on this one!
Michelle made some watermelon agua fresca a while back; check it out on her blog! You can use different fruits as an alternative to sodas.
Add some exercise to your week!
Ah, that dreaded word. Exercise is a hard habit to start, but if you can maintain a routine, it has numerous benefits for both your mind and your body. Don’t know where to start? Try one of these options:
- Alternate cardio and weight training. Pick three days a week, working out each day for about 45 minutes to 1 hour. Start on a cardio machine of your choice (I’m partial to the treadmill), and get your heart rate up a little higher than normal. Some machines have an intelligent sensor that will tell you where your heart rate should fall for your weight and age. For example, I have a high resting heart rate, so my range is about 130-160 if I want a solid cardio exercise. Cardio burns fat, so you’ll want to alternate it with strength exercises to build muscle.
- Swim instead. Right here in Murrieta, it’s already getting to the high 90s – running can be a bit daunting in that heat. Swimming is a great alternative for cardio, while still keeping yourself cooled off.
- What about kids? They need to stay active too! Water gun fights, water balloons, and slip ‘n slides are all fun that will keep them running around and occupied in the back yard instead of staying inside with computer or video games.
And of course, keep up with your adjustments!
Back and neck pain don’t take breaks just because it’s summer; make sure you’re still taking care of your spine. Even when you’re on vacation, there are steps you can take to ensure that you don’t have a flareup while you’re out of town.
Road trips can be fun, but long hours in the car can be a real problem for low back pain. An easy fix is to get a mesh lumbar support; there are many different kinds, but the main idea is to support the curve in your lower back so your posture remains strong.
Another good idea is to keep a bottle of Cryoderm or something similar like Biofreeze with you. If you do have a flareup while out of town, you’ll have a pain-relieving gel that can help so you won’t have to take as much or any medication. Plus, you can always stop by our office to buy an ice pack to take on the road with you instead of using the uncomfortable ice at a hotel.