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This is How You Survive the Summer While Maintaining Your Goals

We all wait with bated breath for the sun to shine and warm our bodies after a long Canadian winter! The camping, the long walks, the beach, the late nights... all the idyllic moments made up of smiles and fun but at what cost to our health?

Summer can be euphoric in so many ways and intimidating in many others. The temptations of smores and spider dogs at the bonfire, the day drinking, the picnics, and the parties, all of these present a great irony to our health and wellness journey. Many of us, especially post-pandemic, are making our overall wellness and health a top priority, and as much as we want to enjoy all the luxurious decadence that the season presents, we don’t want to risk going backwards with our health, our fitness, and our overall goals. This seems to be a little counterintuitive to most—I know I don’t want to miss out on anything stellar, nor will I feel deprived in the few short months of glorious warmth and adventures that ensue in the hottest of calendar days! How can we have our cake and eat it too? Is this an option? How can we not miss out on a single desire this summer, but also not sacrifice our physical and mental health goals?

Let’s look at this critically and plan! Sometimes it’s as simple as a mindset shift and a little extra creative thinking to manage our own expectations! Sometimes, we just need to think outside the box with our everyday routine and get some new tips, tricks, and ideas. Rewrite the story if you must!

Let’s break it down into categories. Let’s start with movement. We all know that movement is the smallest piece of the puzzle in the “exercise versus nutrition for results” conversation, but it’s omnipotent for its own many benefits. Not everybody is going to feel excited to lace up the shoes and throw the gym bag over the shoulder and walk into a commercial space and start lifting weights. In fact, it’s more likely that most people would prefer to get outside and go for a brisk walk after supper with a friend or family member, have a weekend kayak paddle, hit a tennis or a golf ball, or participate in something more social.

It’s important that we all get a little bit of movement for a plethora of reasons. A few examples include the staving off osteoporosis with weight-bearing activities, maintenance and building of muscle mass, increase of cardiovascular and pulmonary function, and the releasing of “happy” brain chemicals to name a few wonderful things! So, who says we need to do sets of bicep curls to be healthy?

Plan and share your plan with a friend or loved one. Everything is more fun with a partner! Hold each other accountable to get out for a hike, make a “walk ‘n talk” date, plan the park with kiddies, etc. Book activities in advance so you’re sure to execute them! This is such a simple idea but so integral to not letting our days run away. Next thing you know, it’s 9pm and you are having a drink around the fire or on the couch in preparation for relaxing and hitting the hay.

It’s an elementary process in theory—but it’s as simple as this to integrate a new habit that before you know it is a sustainable lifestyle that comes as second nature as picking up your phone to check your social media.

So, let’s tackle the biggest piece of the puzzle now… FOOD!

Oh food… how we love and hate them at the same time. Summer brings about so many nutritional challenges when we start adding weddings, events, camping, day trips and any excuse to have a “treat”. But how do the treats affect us?

Imagine finding yourself in a situation where you consider eating extra smores and hotdogs or at another event where you think about how you’re not supposed to miss out on a 5-course meal and exotic desserts for a special occasion. There’s nothing wrong with these at all. However, how does it really affect our minds and our bodies? Let’s start with the mindset.

Most of us are aware of our bodies physical shape and that’s a cold fact. We want better health, and we want to be a little leaner. We want to be a little more energetic and we want to sleep better. When we indulge ourselves with the fun yet unhealthy food, we often do this with shame and guilt as we are aware that they aren’t serving our higher purpose and goals.

Processed foods, simple sugars, and alcoholic beverages all taste great, but they quickly bring your energy down, mess with your blood sugar, and ultimately do the opposite of what we want to achieve—bouncy, happy, and fun moments! So, what do we do around the fire to enjoy the fruits of the season? Here’s an idea that we suggest you live by — the lesser of the evils, the balance in the beast.

For instance, if you ever find yourself in a bonfire and you want a healthier option for sausages, spider dogs are the way to go. Loved by kids and adults across the world, you can easily find these natural hotdogs and have them sliced up in the end and roasted. Besides a bit of nitrates (don’t worry—a bit means very little), they are just salty protein snacks. Plus, with the heat of summer, a little extra salt will help you not be harmed in the hydration department!

If you love outdoor activities like hiking, picnics, and camping, it’s always more convenient to choose processed “on the go” boxed foods that are easy to transport and prepare. Now if that isn’t some commercial programming, I don’t know what is!

Now if you want a healthier option, this suggestion will only take you 7 minutes to prepare the most amazing Tupperware charcuterie ever. Just prepare a few cucumber slices, baby tomatoes, celery and carrots, apple slices, grapes, chunks of old cheese, olives, natural deli meat, smoked canned oysters, a few rice crackers, and some bubbly flavored water and voila — a masterpiece in a backpack has been born! This all nutrient-dense and yummy finger food will fuel you with zero crash post consumption. Don’t you just love the win-win odds?

How about managing those workdays when you come home in the heat of the day and feel obligated to cook a nutritious meal but it’s too hot to fathom standing over a stove and preparing a wholesome meal for yourself and your family?

Multifunctional cooking tools have never been a huge draw but somehow, the chef's celestial powers forced me into purchasing an air fryer. I used it as a counter ornament for months before I finally decided to try it. It was tested with a quality steak, seared with grill marks on the outside and red in the center. It was all quick, perfect, and surprisingly successful. I have also attempted a few other protein attempts like ribs, salmon and homemade burgers and its precision, speed, and quality were unparalleled.

Upon further exploration, the air fryer turned out to be the perfect quick and efficient tool for the job — an everything job! You could cook carb-free Turnip fries, roasted garlic Brussels, sweet potato fries and the list goes on, and on and on. The moral of this meal preparation story is when time and temperature are of essence, this handy, dandy little machine will accelerate the perfect cooking of any protein, many veggies, and a salad or fresh veg, results produced in just T-minus 20 minutes or less.

These tasty tips and tricks on beating the heat, capitalizing on little time, and feeling like a million bucks on the inside and on the outside takes only but a minimal amount of foresight and effort to live your best life, regardless of the season.

Food is thy medicine and medicine will be thy food. It will make or break your mood. It will make or break your goals, and it will make or break your health. It is okay to be gentle with yourself and indulge in the treats with which we are presented with. However, if you practice the 80/20 rule of nutritious whole food 80% of the time and 20% of the time, you’re less mindful, you will win! It’s always the long game with life—not the short game.

Now get out there and enjoy this marvelous summer season!

Love and health,

Anna Rhymer


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