I love summer! There’s really nothing like it. For many of us, our schedules don’t change drastically during the summer season. If we have school aged children, they may be in camps or at home with a sitter or family member, but many of us still need to work. And some of us may have the benefit of some summer holiday. Regardless of whether we work outside of the home or not, it’s helpful to find balance in our summer schedule.
The idea that summer is a season of free time is wonderful in theory. But in reality, often, we get caught up with too many planned events. One challenge is the back and forth transporting of our kids. But equally challenging is the management of a healthy diet at all of these different events for us and our family. In summertime, we have incredible access to beautiful fresh fruits and vegetables. Again, in theory, it’s easy to maintain a diet of healthy foods during this season. But in actuality, many of us find it difficult to get enough healthy foods into our daily diet because we get so busy.
The solution is pretty simple and can be implemented in any season. Eat fresh foods! Avoid processed and packaged foods. This means that if you know you’re going to be out and about for the day, be sure to carry enough fruit and vegetables (and water!) to last you through the day. For protein, you can carry some sources of protein that will be stable in warm temperatures like natural jerky or nuts and seeds. Success with staying healthy and balanced during the busy summer season can be found in keeping things simple.
Here are some suggestions:
- Eat fresh fruits and vegetables! Grab one of your family ‘lunch bags’ and fill it up in the morning or night before with some of these foods: apple slices or celery/carrot sticks and nut butter, natural jerky, nuts and seeds with some dried fruit, gluten free whole grain crackers with hummus.
- Make sure to have a healthy breakfast to carry you through the morning and give you lots of energy. Here are some ideas: eggs with sliced cucumber and tomatoes or avocado with lemon juice/sea salt/olive oil drizzled over the vegetables; morning protein smoothie with frozen berries and/or half of a banana, nut/seed butter, greens and other vegetables, and some coconut oil (you can also use a protein powder); gluten free turkey or chicken sausage (some great options at Trader Joe’s) with some sliced fresh vegetables on the side.
- Drink lots of water throughout the day. If you prefer some type of flavor, you can add some lemon wedges to your water bottle as you leave the house (slice a lemon and leave covered in the fridge so you can grab and go!). Water is essential to maintain a healthy body during the hot summer months. Dehydration can cause lots of symptoms and often we don’t even realize that a lack of water is the cause!
In addition to a healthy diet during the summer season, it’s helpful to also consider how to balance our lives with a ‘gentle schedule’. These beautiful warm months are perfect for carving out some regular ‘me’ time and taking a brisk walk in the morning or a leisurely stroll through the park in the evening with our family. Movement is vital to a healthy body. Making sure we find time to be outside in the fresh air makes it easier to be indoors when we’re working during the day! If the strong heat bothers you, make sure to limit your walks and outdoor time to the early morning and evening time as the sun is not at its peak for the day.
In many towns, there are regular music offerings outside through the summer months. In West Hartford, there is the Elizabeth Park music series as well as regular music offered in Blueback Square. In Bloomfield, there is also regular music offered through the summer on the town green. Most towns offer something of this nature—you can find out about these types of events on most town websites. Usually, the music is offered in the evening time which is a great time to enjoy the fresh outdoors with your family and friends while not baking under the sun!
For some of us, we find it hard to be spontaneous in our leisure activities as we’re juggling family life and work life through any season. In this case, it is helpful to make a goal list of what you might be interested in doing. For example, maybe you’d like to try yoga or meditation or tai chi? Take the time on a weekend (when we have slightly more free time) or maybe after the kids have gone to bed and do some online searches for these types of classes in your area. With many of these types of places, you can find the schedule on their website so you don’t even have to call them. You may be able to register online as well. Try to commit to at least one new fun activity to give you something to look forward to as you balance your life.
If you maintain a healthy diet of ample fresh fruits and vegetables, good natural protein sources, and lots of water throughout the day, as well as regular outdoor movement/activity, and some new and fun activities during the summer, you should feel revitalized!
Ayelet Connell-Giammatteo, PhD, PT, IMT,C is the President and Owner of Integrative Wellness & Physical Therapy in Bloomfield, CT, a wellness center specializing in holistic Physical Therapy, nutritional wellness and Functional Medicine, and Integrative Manual Therapy (IMT). Dr. Connell-Giammatteo is a Physical Therapist and Certified Integrative Manual Therapist. She has been practicing in the field of IMT for over 15 years. In addition to her IMT expertise, Dr. Connell-Giammatteo is a graduate of the Institute of Functional Medicine’s program “Applying Functional Medicine into Clinical Practice” focusing on nutritional wellness. Dr. Connell-Giammatteo was Dean of the Connecticut School of Integrative Manual Therapy (CSIMT) for multiple years. She has taught courses in Integrative Manual Therapy nationally and internationally for over 15 years. Dr. Connell-Giammatteo is also a local of this community and has been living in the Greater Hartford area for many years, where she integrates a healthy lifestyle at home with her wonderful family.