Summer Sizzle and So Much More

By Arthur Karp, M.Ed, Certified Counsellor

“Summertime,
And the livin' is easy
Fish are jumpin'
And the cotton is high”

- George Gershwin

What is it about summer time where we find ourselves getting outdoors like no other time of year. There is so much for us to look forward to such as cycling, golf courses are busy as are the beaches, how about those of us who like to dig away in the garden, the aroma of delicious sweet smells coming from the backyard barbecue, camp grounds being full. Who is not attracted to sitting out and dining on a restaurant patio somewhere downtown or in the Byward Market. For students, exams are long done and for the rest of us the planning of vacations is ever present. The outdoor music festivals throughout the city will be ringing in our ears almost straight through from July- August. Pinch yourself and hope this season will not end anytime soon.

Just how grand to realize we have access to the very best in nutrition concerning the choices of fruits and vegetables with market stands never really too far away and sold by local farmers. Eating healthy is a joy to behold when we are surrounded by such a variety of tasty choices.

With the summer season upon us, here are some easy tips to help you get ready for the coming sunshine:

Crash diets don’t work. Losing weight requires healthy eating and lifestyle changes. Remember the body requires a certain number of calories to function – without enough calories, it starts to store them, instead of burning them freely – and stored calories eventually turn into fat.

Drink lots of water. Water keeps you hydrated and feeling full.

Body Mass Index (BMI), not weight, is the most useful way to assess obesity. A BMI between 18.5 and 24.9 is considered healthy. To calculate your BMI, you need to divide your weight by your height squared. (HealthyOntario.com has a BMI calculator to help you out).

Set reasonable goals. You should not be aiming to lose 40 pounds in two months. Health experts say it is safe to lose about two pounds per week; at that pace, you can manage your weight loss and maintain your goal weight.

Exercise. That’s it. Physical activity burns calories, and improves overall health. You should aim for 60 minutes a day, but you can break that up. Maybe a ten minute walk into work in the morning, a 20-minute walk with colleagues at lunch, and a longer walk after work. Depending on your fitness level, you can try to do two 30 minute sessions of activity, or even a full 60 minutes at once. Walking is great exercise. The motion works your major muscle groups, tones up your body, and allows you to chat with a friend or clear your mind. It is also easy on your joints.

Learning how to incorporate fitness into our daily routines can greatly enhance the quality of our lives and our overall health not to mention our moods. The current government standards recommend a minimum of 30 minutes a day for exercise. This may be a challenge, but is well worth it. Benefits include a healthy heart, healthy breathing, stronger bones and muscles, weight loss, a decreased risk for diabetes and cancer and an improved night’s sleep.

Stress is unavoidable. We can’t control stress, but we can cope more effectively with it:

  • Take a few deep breaths.
  • Exercise – take a walk during the day.
  • Think positive. Remember the good things in your life and what there is to be grateful for.
  • Count to ten. This make you stop and relax before you react to the stressful situation.
  • Take a good stretch. Stretching will make your muscles relax and help you feel calmer with each breath taken.

“Summer’s here
That suits me fine
It may rain today
But I don’t mind
It’s my favorite time of the year
And I’m glad that I’m here”
– James Taylor “Summer’s Here”