Getting in shape for summer
Summer is here and many of us are looking for ways to get in better shape and look good in our swimsuits, sundresses and tanks and shorts. While this is a very motivating goal, what's especially crucial is to get in better shape for the simple fact of being healthier. So along with looking better, our energy will improve, we'll get more restful sleep and we may actually notice feeling happier. Often when we're carrying that little extra weight we feel sluggish. This happens because our bodies aren't functioning at their most optimal level. Perhaps we're not eating the best foods or not moving enough or perhaps daily stress is wearing us down. Sometimes our bodies are simply out of balance so our metabolism begins to slow down.
Although each person is different there are some basic rules that will help get you closer to your healthiest self and therefore looking your best.
Let's begin by eating better foods, especially more fruits and vegetables that are local and in season. Our bodies are designed to process foods more efficiently when we eat those that fit our body type and are appropriate for the season. Thankfully summer offers such a wide variety of delicious choices! In Chinese Medicine, summer is the most "yang" time of the year so it's important to balance this with yin foods. Fresh foods eaten raw or lightly cooked are most beneficial during the summer. Be sure to also drink plenty of water. Be wary though of cold foods such as ice cream or iced drinks as this can be harmful to the body. Instead opt for fresh fruits, salad and water with lemon or cucumber to cool down. Check out your local farmer's markets. You'll be sure to find fresh foods that are local and in season!
Some of the best fruits and vegetables for this time of year are:
Implement or increase your exercise program. Take advantage of the longer days by adding a 30 minute walk after work or perhaps another cardio exercises such as swimming, volleyball, cycling or even dancing! It's important to also include strength training such as yoga, barre, pilates, martial arts or weightlifting. Cardio exercise helps you burn calories while strength training builds muscle mass to increase your metabolism. Exercise also helps lower your cortisol levels (the hormone involved in stress) so it helps decrease fat around your abdomen.
Including meditation in your daily life helps bring awareness back to your body, while promoting relaxation and a clear focus. It can therefore be advantageous to actualize your health goals. There are a variety of styles so spend time exploring to see what feels right for you. If you'd like some help getting started, Jeremy Stillman, CH and I offer free guided meditations right on the beach the first and third Fridays of the month. Check out my website for more information!
If you're feeling like you've tried everything but you're still not getting the results you want perhaps there's an underlying imbalance. We can schedule an appointment to determine the cause of this imbalance and create a treatment plan to bring you closer to your healthiest self. This may include acupuncture, herbs, a nutrition plan designed for your particular needs and guidance for breathing or relaxation techniques. Feel free to comment below or contact me for more information.
Beth Theodore, L.Ac.