Bummer Summer? Not! 5 Ways to Find Your Sizzle
Summer is busting out all over! July jumpstarts the heart of summer, a time of fun and frolicking for highly discerning people who see the warm-weather months as a time to play more and worry less.
It’s not easy, not in this election year. Ridicule has trumped reason. No matter your party, it may feel like the party’s over. Tension is high wherever you turn.
But please don’t turn off that healthiest part of you, yearning to sign up for windsurfing school or start playing softball, tennis, volleyball or even that cruelest and most mystical of games, golf.
Do it, do it, do it! The summer is made for action, which is always better for your health than reaction—to outrageous headlines, and nonstop stupid tweets.
Here are five summer bugs I want to plant in your ear, dear reader, as you move through the summer of 2016, staying focused on that noble and nourishing path to better health:
1. START WHERE YOU ARE. This simply means no matter how out of shape your shape may be, you can always begin again. Summer is ripe for doing that. The weather begs you to play outdoors. The body feels so much better when it’s busy, in the garden, taking a walk, riding a bike. Even doing just a little means a lot.
So lower your expectations and appreciate whatever effort you make. Even if you can’t see your toes, let alone touch them, even if you can’t walk a block without huffing and puffing (and I don’t mean a vape), you can begin again this summer. And if you can see your toes, maybe teach them to tango.
2. PLAY YOUR DREAM SPORT. What’s your secret sport, the one you play in your imagination when no one’s looking? Do you see yourself as a champion tennis player, a crafty sailor, a long distance bicyclist in tight shorts and a splashy spandex top?
You know that weary cliche, “If you can dream it, you can do it”?
You can. It’s true. And more than true, it’s a steppingstone to moving yourself in the right direction: toward the active, away from the sedentary. If you just move the needle a tiny bit, you’re going to feel better and think better. Eventually, you’ll even start to think better of yourself.
So this summer, dream it; then do it. Whatever it is. Even if you only do it once and call it quits. Here I picture my first and last attempt at mountain biking.
3. STEP UP YOUR FOOD CHOICES. The farmers markets start to blossom in summertime, making it the perfect time to harvest your foods from local vendors. Be brave. Put on a straw hat and grab your canvas bags and get to know the sweethearts who grow the best tomatoes, the tastiest eggplants, the freshest corn. The big idea this summer and every season thereafter is to cut back on processed foods and eat more food that is real, grown in the ground, not produced in a factory.
4. TAKE LESSONS IN A NEW SPORT. Doing the same sport year after year can get boring. If that happens, the body loses interest, and next thing you know, you’ve taken to your hammock with a six-pack of something other than coconut water and canceled your bike ride. Keep it fresh; keep it lively. Challenge yourself in new ways. I discovered race walking after I was bored with being a slow and lumbering runner. Another way to spark joy is to take lessons in a sport you know very well. Golf is always good for that. So is tennis. So is every sport, really.
5. PLAY WITH YOUR BREATH. Whatever you like to do—walk, bike, swim— you’ll do it with greater ease and more energy if you figure out ways to incorporate conscious breathing. Focusing on your breath, as you hike up a hill or swim a few laps, adds an entirely new dimension to being active. It helps calm you down, or speed you up, and it starts a revelatory conversation with your body that doesn’t end until you die.