It’s never too late to start making yourself feel good – both mentally and physically – and summer is a great time get started. Giving a little attention to your diet, exercise and general wellbeing can really benefit to your overall health.
DietYou don’t have to radically alter your diet as even small changes will benefit you.
• Blackberries, blueberries, cranberries and strawberries are all high in antioxidants and fibre, are nutritious and eating great handfuls will fill you up with healthy energy
• All melons, but particularly watermelons are mainly water. They’re healthy and a great option if you need something sweet
• Courgettes, aubergine, mushrooms, leeks, asparagus, onions, peppers and garlic are all delicious grilled or roasted with a light brush of olive oil. High in nutrition and flavour, low in calories
• There are no rules for salads – just put in any vegetables or fruit that you have, such as lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber and avocado. Combining different greens or lettuces, such as cos, romaine, Chinese leaf, rocket or watercress make salads more interesting and are cheaper than buying the ready-packaged salads. Add beans, couscous or tabouli for a bit of substance.
• Alcohol is high in calories, so reduce this by enjoying a white wine spritzer (50/50 wine with sparkling water) or going for a non-alcohol alternative, such as lemon barley water or lime cordial with sparkling water.
This doesn’t have to mean daily sessions at the gym or long-distance running. The key to weight loss is using up more calories than you’ve eaten, and there are lots of ways you can achieve this:
• Walk. Sounds simple – and it is. Start by walking locally three times a week for just 20 minutes. Build up the pace so that you can do the route more quickly and extend the time to 30 minutes by extending your route. If you can fit in four walks a week, or even every day, go for it – you will notice the difference.
• Yoga is a great exercise for stretching and toning your muscles without having to break out into sweat. In the summer heat, your muscles are already warm and relaxed. Even better, find a class held outside to enjoy nature along with your session.
• If you are exercising in the heat, remember to keep to the shade and wear a hat to protect your head and neck. Wearing sunglasses will protect your eyes and help you to avoid squinting, causing lines around the eyes.
• Gardening is great exercise as you use a wide range of muscles and are constantly moving.
We all have to deal with stress at some point and research shows that it’s actually the small things in life (being stuck in a traffic jam, forgetting to pick up the dry cleaning, missing a work deadline etc) that causes more tension and anxiety than the major life events.
So, allow yourself some ‘me time’. This simply means doing things just for yourself and just for the pleasure of it. Allowing yourself 20 minutes a day to potter in your garden, read the paper, or even take a nap calms the mind, lowers blood pressure and, just as importantly, gives you a few minutes to just ‘be’.
More recent research shows that we don’t necessarily need eight hours sleep. Many of us can exist quite happily on less but what’s important is the quality of your sleep rather than the quantity. Try to stick to a routine, even with the lighter summer nights, winding down and avoiding alcohol too late in the evening. If your room gets too warm, fans are a great way to cool the temperature and their low hum will help you drift off to sleep.
By Pippa Duncan