It always happens at this time of year without fail. A few days of perpetual sunshine and suddenly, without warning, you realise that the beckoning of beach 2017, so far ahead in the distance with time to visit gyms or change diets, is actually here and now. Scary thought right? And the prospect of baring flesh that has been safely tucked away all year is not immediately appealing. So what can be done, quickly?
First of all, when you are way over 40 as I am, you need to be realistic. You are not going to have the shape, skin tone or skin texture you did twenty years ago but that is no reason to feel defeated and give up. Quite the opposite – celebrate where you are right now and be grateful for what life has offered you so far. I would not want to be twenty again if you paid me – I am so very happy with how life has turned out and where I am at even though things don’t always go to plan. Saying that, I still want to feel strong, healthy and at my best. So these are my own personal top summer tips for a healthy body and mind that seem to work for me.
As food is 70% responsible for the way your body looks there is a reason why it is listed first. For a while, leading up to beach time, I tend to almost skip bread, pasta, rice and heavy carbs which, unless I”m planning to do a triathlon, will most likely end up on my belly.
Make sure you eat a varied and colourful diet consisting mainly and predominantely of vegetables and protein. Don’t forget the goods fats (olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, rapeseed oil) which will help you in the fat burning process. Fermented foods also play a part in healthy digestion and elimination which is why its good to incorporate some sort of gut food into your diet every day. Kefir, kombucha, kimchi, natural yoghurt etc. And finally a word on portion control. A little really does go a long way and we don’t have to be absolutely stuffed to feel like we’ve nailed the meal. We are often satisfied much earlier than that, which is something to keep in mind before scraping the last morsel from your plate.
Here is an example of what a typical day could look like:
Breakfast – porridge (chia, coconut milk, turmeric, nuts, seeds, coconut oil, blueberries, all tossed in) OR gluten free toast with avocado, tomatoes and lemon with poached egg.
Lunch – salad in a variety of ways (leaves with chopped veg, beans, hummus, guacamole, sweet potato, you name it and it’s all good) or a grilled piece of fish with a green leaf sallad, olive oil, lemon, salt and pepper.
Dinner – stir fry with prawns, zucchini noodles with pesto, grilled fish and sallad (protein and veg).
Treats – dark chocolate, black licorice, fruit and bits of unpasterised cheese.
Nothings makes us pile on the pounds like a stressed and worried mind. The hormone cortisol, which is released during stress, will ensure our fat deposits, especially around our middle, will remain there as your body stores reserves for fight or flight. Instead, calm your mind. Find a quiet spot each day where you can practice meditation and let go of circular thinking and negative patterns that keeps you stuck in a state of worry and stress. I can highly recommend Oprah and Deepak’s 21 meditation experiences, there are quite a few by now, which are short, thought-provoking yet easy to incorporate into your life.
In a recent study it was concluded that vigorous exercise, at least 3 times per week, actually reversed the signs of ageing and quite significantly at that, which probably comes as no suprise to those who are regular movers. So get out there and raise your heart beat, people. Run in the park, cycle to work, walk up those stairs – several times over. If you are a home body then Hiit sessions are fabulous as they give you a workout, raise your heart beat and are over quick! There are tons of good youtube videos available if you want to exercise in your own home. Try to get out of breath every day for about 10-20 minutes doing something physical.
Done daily, or at least several times per week, you will start noticing a diffferent sort of skin. Yes, there is life underneath dead skincells and prickly spots, people. I use a brush that is not so soft which means your skin is left a bit red after. Not too much, you don’t want to break the skin, but enough so that you can see the blood circulation getting going. Always brush in the direction of the heart.
I use natural bristles and not a loofah but I think it is a matter of taste. Brush before you have a shower so that the dead skincells are flushed away. Afterwards, put on a natural body oil or cream that you like the fragrance of. You’ll notice a vast improvement in a week. Be particularly vigorous on areas which bothers you, such as belly, underarms, buttocks and inner thighs. My favorite product is Weleda’s Birch Oil for cellulite. It is natural, proven (Weleda has been around for years) and not expensive.
Hydrate, hydrate and hydrate. There is no better way to plump out the wrinkly bits and flush out the toxins than to drink fluids. I drink warm water with lemon in the morning followed by green juice, water throughout the day and herbal teas in the evening. It all counts. It doesn’t have to be only just water – hydration is the key. And no, coffee and teas don’t count as they are de-hydrating which is not what we are after in the summer body department. By all means have your coffee (and for beach body purposes an Americano with little of no milk beats a latte everyday) but let’s not count that as part of your hydration cure… 🙂
So there you are. Small things you can start doing today. Wake up, mediate, dry brush before showering, drink warm water and lemon, make a green juice, have a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner, drink lots during the day, exercise and try to stay calm. You can do this.