Summer is coming, and I know that I only have about 40-50 more summers in my life and I want to maximize each and every one of them, without sacrificing my health and well-being. Living and growing up in Ohio makes you wary of weathermen, hateful of those gross grey, cold months dragging on…but oh so grateful when that sun begins to peak out. One of the things that I found the most helpful in my health and fitness journey was utilizing the Summer, and the positive, motivating attitude that comes with it, to drastically improve my health and fitness. Your health is defined by your habits, what you “default” to every day, and our goal each season should be to “lock in” 1-2 new habits that are a net-improvement on our overall well-being until we feel very confident and comfortable with our long-term outlooks.
Many American’s have been taught or led to believe that January is the time to ‘begin’ a health journey, and so if that is the case, let’s hope and assume that you’ve improved your healthy habits over the last 4-5 months and have a base foundation that we need to take to the next level this summer (NOT rest on our success and lose all of our gains!). If you haven’t then the cliche, but nevertheless true, Chinese proverb is here starting you in the face again: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.” So, let’s discuss some of the best summer habits to start dialing in:
1. 10-20 minutes per day of unprotected sun exposure – (after that apply 30 SPF and continue on)
(Article) — Vitamin D is arguably the most important micronutrient for anyone living north of Atlanta as the summer months begin. Chances are you are deficient in this, and it’s time to allow this miracle drug to work it’s magic. Many people will argue that skin cancer is a major concern of theirs with too much sun exposure, however the benefits from good Vitamin D levels have shown to help reduce the risk of over 10 other types of cancer…bottom line is that a BALANCE is required here, based on your skin type. Fair skin folks on a high UV-Index day might only get 5-minutes before they lather up, whereas darker skinned folks might be able to push 30-40 minutes of unprotected time. Be smart, and just start. This one should be simple and enjoyable to accomplish, we’ll get harder as we go.
Suggested way: Well, we might as well be working out or moving while we do this, so let’s aim to do one of the following suggestions 4-5 days out of the week; Walk to get lunch at work, pop in a podcast and head out for a jog between 10a-2pm, walk your dog or ride your bike. Create a challenge for this habit, humans work harder with a stated goal to accomplish: Something like “I’m going to listen to 1 episode of this podcast M-F, while I walk my dog outside until I finish all of them” — Or get an audiobook you’ve been longing to read and set a 30-minute timer on audible while you do Yoga in the morning. Lots of options here, the goal is to set yourself to a task and accomplish it. Working out and having a mental-health development related podcast together while getting some sunlight will have a profound effect on your mental state.
2. Sign-up for something!
The summer offers us all kinds of opportunities to get involved with. Summer volleyball leagues, softball, spikeball, races, charity events, CrossFit competitions, Adventure Races, etc. etc. etc. I’ve done all of these over the last 10-years and I can tell you that each provides a fun ‘carrot’ to look forward to and cause you to ‘up your game’ from a training level. This year Friendship will have a Pelotonia team, host a spikeball tournament, running Summer Challenges and compete in countless tests of physical fitnessing — Our community has adopted this principle at a mass scale, and this is one of the major benefits of surrounding yourself with a community of healthy people. If you don’t have that in your life yet, then maybe that is what could fulfill this section: Sign-up for a new community of healthy people. There are lots of great options out there like Team RWB, GoRuck, SUP Columbus, and obviously your local CrossFit gym if you’re looking for variety!
Suggested Way: Find a friend, spouse, child or parent who is also looking to improve their health this summer and take some action. Ideas, talk and ‘hopes’ are a dime a dozen, if you do not take action you cannot hope to create change in your life.
3. Lock in one meal
Dialing up a full-service diet or nutrition plan can be hard, especially if you’re trying to do it alone and off the internet. So, I recommend first choosing one meal that you eat consistently and reducing your ‘decision fatigue’ on that meal. For me, it’s breakfast. I eat the same breakfast everyday: 5 eggs, 2 pieces of Ezekiel Bread toast with an avocado or cinnamon. It hits my macronutrient goals perfectly, is enjoyable and sustainable and I’ve “fixed” this habit to where you can set your watch by it. Would vegetables be better than toast? Sure. But could I promise you that I’d look forward to preparing and eating that every day for the next 10-years? No. If that’s the case, then you need to keep “trialing” new things until you can have a healthy, sustainable option for you.
Suggested Way: Set a goal for one meal every day from June-September. See if you can eat that same breakfast (using the example above) every day for 90-days. That is the true start to a healthy habit. Think, if you locked in one healthy meal or snack, every season for the next two-years, you would essentially be eating a perfect diet every single day. Don’t fall victim to trying to ‘hack’ a diet quickly, it takes time and patience to develop healthy habits — It’s not too much to ask to eat a consistent breakfast everyday, so that’s our first “easily digestible” goal for this summer.
4. Take a “refresher” vacation
This one is a bit more specific. It works really well for teachers, or for those who are stuck at desks/inside and on technology all summer — But obviously could work for anyone. We know a lot of things about nature, sleep, sun and human’s happiness as it pertains to being outside in a natural environment – TLDR: You need it. Sleeping with the stars, rising with the sun and far removed from technology. If we pair that with being active, hiking, climbing, swimming we can come back refreshed, more carefree, less stressed and with a better outlook on our future. This summer my wife and I are choosing Montana. We’re going to hike, swim, try fly-fishing, see Yellowstone and be “off grid” for a week. I typically will finish a book or two, catch up on podcasts and come back motivated and energetic. No alarms, no schedules. We’re BIG on AirBNB because (as noted above) we like to have a kitchen so we can have our breakfasts but also because they’re cheaper and simpler than other accommodations (See My Favorite Montana Place (Note we didn’t get this one)). I like this better than the beach/ocean vacations for a few reasons: 1. Less people, less clutter. There is something about the fresh air and peace and quiet that has a serene effect on your psyche. 2. Cheaper, Canada, Montana, Wyoming, Michigan, are all BEAUTIFUL, warm and have great bodies of water and mountains to enjoy for half the cost of a Hilton Head or Outer Banks. 3. Off-Grid is a requirement of relaxation, in my opinion. If you “need” cell-service, WIFI, etc. then you need this more than anyone, most beach towns are heavily populated and thus cell-companies are ample in these areas. Also you could teach your kids how to actually read a map, which we’ve learned is still a very necessary skill (thanks Dad, and Army).
Suggested Way: Talk with friends and family who have taken “unique” vacations to these places. Scope out an AirBNB (it’s my guilty pleasure, love looking at beautiful properties and seeking a deal). Leave your tech at home.
Now, I sit here owning a gym, and I am actively telling you to do all of these things outside of the gym. A true well-rounded health and wellness PLAN involves these types of things that reduce stress, increase happiness all while building aerobic capacity and stamina. Resistance training is paramount to long-term health and wellness, so I do still suggest you lift weights or exercise in a gym 3-4 days per week…but hopefully you can lift weights or exercise outside so that you can knock out #1 while getting this in. Worst case, if you come out of the summer mentally refreshed, with a better grasp on your nutritional habits, chalk full of vitamin D and you completed your first challenge that you signed up for with a friend…but didn’t get to the gym as much as you’d like, I’d still say you rocked it!
If you’re interested in getting help on your journey, fill out the info below and we’re happy to see how Friendship might be a good addition to your life!