By Danielle Houston, RDN, LD
With summer here, it’s time to break out the shorts, skirts and sundresses. And the thought of adorning summer attire causes a ripple of fear to go through me. Am I ready for this change in wardrobe? Pool parties mean bathing suits. Yikes! So this month, let’s talk about some great ways to get your body ready for summer with exercise and diet.
Spring and summer bring with them some exciting changes in the produce department. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a great addition to your current diet.
• Apples: Look for seasonal varieties such as Jazz and Pink Lady. Make sure to eat the skin to get the vitamins and fiber!
• Avocado: While this food is high in fat, it contains the “healthy” monounsaturated fats that promote heart health. To speed up ripening, place in a paper bag on the counter. Remember, one-fourth of a whole avocado is one serving, so don’t overdo it.
• Blackberries, boysenberries and blueberries are great sources of bioflavonoids and vitamin C. Try them in your yogurt or morning smoothie. Always rinse just before eating, never in advance, to prevent spoilage.
• Grapes: These are a great dessert option, and they have a different texture when frozen!
• Melons and mangoes: These are always best when fresh and in season, and great to have pre-sliced in the refrigerator to use as a snack.
• Green veggies: Add chard, kale and green beans to your diet. These are all best fresh, so check out a local farmer’s market. Cook using some spray butter and seasoning instead of butter or oil to help cut calories.
Finding the motivation to exercise when temperatures reach over 85 degrees can be difficult. However, exercise should always be the first priority if you are seeking to achieve or maintain a healthy lifestyle. This is especially important if you are over the age of 30. The phrase “use it or lose it” is true of all muscles. If you have a gym membership or access to an indoor facility, you can exercise any time of the year in a controlled climate. Even if you have to exercise outside, here are some great suggestions to get you going.
• Jumping rope: This is a great mix of cardio and stamina training. Set a timer and work on intervals or set a goal to work toward (i.e. 5 minutes without stopping). This exercise can be hard on your joints, so don’t do this one if you are experiencing pain in your knees or back.
• Swimming or water aerobics: This is a great activity for summertime. Take advantage of the pool if you have access to one or enroll in a course. This activity is very low impact, making it safe for people with joint problems, as well as older folks.
• Video game systems: With advances in technology, we now have access to systems that provide indoor exercise. Additionally, don’t be afraid to try workout DVDs.
• Basic weight training: I strongly recommend buying some light weights (2-pound, 5-pound and 8-pound sets to start) and doing some arm exercises. Online tutorials can be very helpful or even exercise magazines. If at all possible, sign up for some sessions with a personal trainer or exercise physiologist to learn how to perform exercise routines safely.
I encourage you to get out there and get started! Don’t forget to replenish yourself with some protein and carbohydrate (from fruit!) after your workout. Remember, even though sweating through the summer isn’t always fun, this too shall pass, and, before you know it, you will be complaining that it is too cold in the winter and hoping for summer warmth again!