Lauren MacLeod is a Mammoth Lakes local and registered sports dietitian specializing in mountain athletes. Below, she outlines her favorite tips for maintaining health and wellness to get the most out of the remaining days of summer to finish the season strong.
* * * * * * * *
This isn’t an article about losing weight. I’m not going to tell you to cut out carbs, alcohol, or fun to achieve your “summer body.”
I’m going to let you in on a secret–you already have a summer body, by nature of existing in the summer.
Diet culture has led us to believe that in order to be ready for summer, you need to change your body–go on a diet, exercise a lot (not for fun), “eat clean," etc. When you do this, you are putting yourself at risk of undernutrition, which can lead to decreased energy, mood swings, obsessive thoughts about food, and a never ending cycle of dieting. All of these factors make it nearly impossible to actually enjoy summer.
In this article, we’re going to cut through the noise and dive into my top tips for enjoying summer in the body you have.
1. Fuel up before and during long summer activities
For outdoor recreationists, summer means spending many days out and about. There are only a few weeks left to lay out in the warm sun, swim in cool lakes and go on outdoor adventures. When you’re outside and active, the last thing you want is to bonk, ending the day early to find a snack. Allow yourself to fully enjoy the spontaneity of summer by keeping a variety of nonperishable snacks on hand.
Eating between meals gives you the space and satisfaction to make balanced meal choices, versus going into dinner starving, ready to eat the first edible food in sight.
Here are some options for easy nonperishable snacks to keep in every bag. Try to build a two-part snack that includes carbohydrates for energy and protein for sustained fullness:
- Energy gels with nut butter, like MUIR Energy Cacao Almond, contain both carbohydrates and protein.
- Trail mix with nuts and fruit or chocolate chips.
- Apple slices and nut butter pouch.
- Peanut butter and banana sandwich.
- Whole grain crackers and a tuna packet.
- Pretzels and peanut butter.
- Protein bar (with at least 10g of protein per bar).
Fueling properly will help you stay out longer and enjoy more!
2. Choose clothes that make you feel good
When bodies (inevitably) change, people have a bad habit of holding on to clothes that no longer fit properly, or clothes that they want to fit in to “one day." Rather than being inspiring, keeping clothes that don’t fit is detrimental to mental health and body acceptance. Here are factors to consider when choosing which clothes to keep for summer and which to toss (donate, don’t trash):
- Keep clothes with high-quality materials. Say no to fast fashion. This will help you feel good about the clothes you choose and where to invest. Choose natural fabrics like Merino wool which is renewable and biodegradable and will last a long time.
- Keep clothes that fit you well. Donate any that don’t. Remove the “one day I’ll wear this” mentality.
- Keep clothes that make you FEEL GOOD. You don’t need a reason to toss something that doesn’t feel good on your body, even if it’s trendy.
Staying hydrated in the summer can be a constant struggle. Make sure you drink enough water throughout the day, even if you aren’t feeling thirsty! Some symptoms of dehydration (that don’t include thirst) are trouble focusing, fatigue, and dizziness. You don’t want these issues getting in the way of summer fun or work. Try to get about half your weight in ounces of fluid per day. (For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, aim for 75 ounces of water per day.)
4. Protect yourself from the sun
While a tan is the mark of a summer well-spent, there is a fine line between a warm glow and damage from the sun’s harmful rays. Some sun exposure is beneficial, with UVB rays stimulating vitamin D production in your skin. Too much of another type of UV ray (UVA) can lead to a sunburn and increase the risk of skin cancer.
Here are a few ways to manage sun exposure:
- Wear a thin, moisture-wicking sun shirt like the Solstice Hoodie to keep you covered and cool.
- Wear a hat, polarized sunglasses, and consider a face covering like a Ridge Neck Tube if you burn easily.
- Wear sunscreen daily on your face and body and reapply regularly.
Hitting the trail in natural UPF clothing.
5. Focus on what you can add, versus what needs to be “cut out”
When we think about what we can add to our nutrition/training/life, it creates a mindset of abundance: you see how much you have, instead of what needs to be “removed." Here are some examples of “adding” goals as you round out the summer:
- Drink more water during the day
- Add more fruits and vegetables to meals and snacks
- Spend more time outside
Ridge Merino wool hiking socks are a must.
Taking care of your body requires a combination of caring for your mind, physical body, and heart. Enjoy this summer in the body you have–it’s the only one you get!