I was in middle school when I went on my first “summer diet.” I was much too aware of the looming possibility that I’d be around boys while wearing a tankini soon enough (the public pool was like preteen Tinder before Tinder was a thing). Brief, but relevant side note: the “boys” I’m referring to were all shorter than five feet and laden with preteen acne and braces; why I felt any pressure at all, I’ll never understand. Nonetheless, I had read in Seventeen that cutting out cheese and eating more vegetables could help you slim down, so naturally, I took my veggie burger without cheese that night and actually ate the salad my mom always optimistically put on my plate.
That “diet” lasted about two days (it went out the window as soon as my friend’s mom made us mac n’ cheese–my weakness–when I was over), but it’s a small example of the longtime pressure that women are supposed to look a certain way come summer. Sure, summer brings us beachy waves and a killer (faux) tan, but can also bring pressure that makes us do crazy things like go on a fad diet or say no to mac n’ cheese (the horror!). Here’s the truth: wellness should be about how you feel (not how you look), and all bodies are bikini bodies (say it again for the people in the back!).
Instead of the sad preteen “diet” that I went on in middle school and the damaging societal pressures that inspired it, we’re dedicating our health goals this summer to feeling our very best. We want to feel happier, more energized, and enjoy every perfect summer day from the first day of June until the last day of August. Here are the health resolutions we’re giving ourselves this summer to feel good in our bodies (exactly as they are).
1. Load up on seasonal produce
Healthy eating is easy in the summer: your body craves lighter foods, herbs are in season, and vegetables on the grill suddenly sound as good as pasta or pizza. To get the most out of the season, take advantage of the markets and grocery stores full of produce in their prime (think: juicy tomatoes, fresh strawberries, and sweet corn). Base grocery lists and recipes around the many delicious fruits and vegetables that are in season and snack on crispy bell peppers or delicious watermelon instead of the usual bag of chips. Bonus points if you purchase from your local farmer’s market!
2. Eat dessert
The best health goal of all time: indulge in dessert whenever that sweet tooth strikes (and you know it will). Ignoring cravings or restricting foods can lead to bingeing, or will just feel like a major bummer. However, to keep up with your health goals, find a few go-to desserts that are as good for you as they are delicious. For example, try a square of dark chocolate, greek yogurt with honey, or DIY “Nice Cream” using banana or avocado as a base. Not only are you adding in extra nutrients while satisfying your sweet tooth, but you won’t be tempted to go crazy and order three different flavors when the ice cream truck pulls down your street.
3. Upgrade your sexual health routine
Your “vulvarine” goes through the wringer come summertime (thanks to Broad City for that cringy-yet-genius nickname). Between sweaty underwear and wet bathing suits, summer is a yeast infection waiting to happen. Take care of your vagina (because why can’t we all just call it what it is?) by cleansing it properly, moisturizing the skin as much as possible (since razor burns along those bikini lines kill), and being prepared if yeast infections are on the horizon. Also, be aware of what ingredients and chemicals you’re coming in contact with by investigating the products you use ~down under~.
4. Walk everywhere
It’s about time we reframe our idea of “fitness” from focusing on intense, exhausting, hour-long workouts to simply moving as much as possible. True health doesn’t have to mean intense calorie burn or working to exhaustion, but rather living less sedentary. One of the best parts of summer is that walking everywhere is not only possible, but it’s pleasant. Queue up your favorite summer playlist or a new podcast episode and vow to walk everywhere that’s within a one-mile radius, at least (bonus: it’s better for the planet!). For farther destinations, get creative about your transportation. For example, walk to the farther train stop to get in some extra steps or try bike riding for a quicker method that’s still active.
5. Eat more intuitively
We’re canceling restrictive diets and calorie counting in 2020. Instead, we’re simply eating more intuitively. This means tuning in to the body to feed it what it needs (and when it needs), instead of worrying about outside rules, recommendations, and regulations. We’ll be eating nourishing foods whenever we’re hungry, stopping before we’re too full, and having a few mindful bites (completely guilt-free) when a plate of nachos, potato salad, or snow cones are in eyesight. Read more about how to eat intuitively here.
6. Track your water, not calories
One of easiest and most universal wellness tips is to drink more water. Staying hydrated improves energy levels and keeps the digestive system healthy (just to name a couple of benefits). It’s especially important to stay mindful of water intake in the summer when it’s hotter and we’re sweatier (shout out to my deodorant for doing the lord’s work these days). Screw tracking calories, and instead track your water intake. Make a goal of a certain amount of ounces or glasses to finish in a day or periods in a day (by lunchtime, before 6pm, etc.). For the tech savvy among us, use a smart water bottle, or simply keep tally marks in your daily planner to keep track.
7. Turn off screens one hour before bedtime
We’ve recommended digital detoxes for years and are well-versed in the benefits of going screen-free before bed, but this will be the summer we actually stick to an evening routine without technology. Giving yourself even just a short break from constant screen time can not only improve your sleep quality (and help you fall asleep quicker), but will improve the quality of your life. Whether this means sipping chamomile tea outside or diving into one of the most anticipated books of the summer, try turning off the TV, closing the laptop, and putting away the phone one hour before bedtime to wind down and relax, totally tech-free.
8. No more sunburns!
It’s 2020: SPF is no longer sticky or inconvenient. Many options stay on for hours (even through sweat and water), and can even boost hydration and glow of your skin. As someone who burns like a lobster, there is no longer an excuse to burn at all. We can all be more on top of our sunscreen application by reapplying consistently and staying in the shade or covering up when needed. If you don’t burn easily, that’s even more reason to keep on top of your sunscreen game because you don’t have the fear of a painful red splotch to remind you to reapply. Whether you burn easily or not at all, the goal of SPF is to protect your skin from harmful and damaging sun rays that are bad for your health.
9. Swim more
I get it: nothing feels more relaxing than lounging by a pool with a great beach read and slathered-on SPF. I love a (protected) tan-sesh as much as the next girl, but every time I go to the pool or beach this summer, my goal is to actually get in the water and swim (instead of just cooling off in between lounging). Not only is swimming a good way to move more often, but it’s a form of exercise that feels more like pure fun than working out (it definitely beats jogging, right?). Whether you aim for a few laps in the pool or head to the ocean for boogie boarding or wading in the waves, get your body moving in the water and have some fun.
10. Prioritize social health
I’ve been there: the temptation to skip beach days with friends because you’re feeling insecure or feeling stressed about dinner plans at a dive bar because every item on the menu will make you bloated. Of course, your body is your business, and you have the right to do what you think is best for it. But personally, I’m done prioritizing insecurities. Instead, I’m going to remember that laughing with friends is truly better for my health than a green juice or raw salad, and happy memories affect me way longer than a plate of french fries or a salty margarita ever could. Yes, I will always take care of my body, but this will be the summer that taking care of my relationships becomes just as important.