Summer is one of my favourite times of year, but this year more than ever I feel utterly unprepared for it, from the extra pounds which are covering my hips and thighs, to my transparent skin that hasn’t seen daylight in a seriously long time, to my wardrobe that seems to have transformed into a knitwear store … Spring Summer has hit me with a shock. When I was younger (oh how much I miss being an early twenty something) weight would drop off in a second, and finding summer clothes was almost too easy … now the opposite couldn’t be more true. Pounds are harder to shift, I can’t seem to find spring clothing that’s both modest, flattering and comfortable, and i now feel the need to ‘prepare’ for summer (something i’d never before really needed to do).
And so with my decision to get summer style ready, I thought i’d outline a few steps that are going to help me get there, which might help you too prepare your body and wardrobe for summer dressing.
The spring and summer months are all about getting back to basics with quick and simple meals. And the abundance of healthy, seasonal fresh foods means that they are often even more affordable.
Start your day with a delicious breakfast smoothie packed with colourful summer fruits and vegetables such as rhubarb, strawberries and blueberries. Enjoy refreshing salads with seasonal asparagus, broad beans, cucumber, and leafy greens such as spinach. Choose refreshing snacks such as melons which contain more than 90% water and so hydrate the body. Plus, all of these are rich in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, and so provide many health benefits.
If you break out the barbecue, marinade meats before you add them to the grill to reduce the level of cancer-risk chemicals that are produced during barbecuing. For even greater health benefits, produce your own marinade with herbs, spices, vinegars and olive oil.
Find your ideal weight
Finding your ideal weight is all about feeling good. If you want to lose a few excess pounds gained over the winter period then it’s best to start now to see the most benefits by the time summer arrives. Start by drinking wisely. Enjoy the occasional margarita or beer, but try to go without alcohol five nights a week.
Some people find intermittent fasting beneficial for weight loss. Cut back on sugar by keeping added sugar to no more than 10% of your daily calories, and be aware of the types of carbs you are consuming. Unrefined carbs such as oats, brown rice and wholemeal bread can offer many health benefits. In contrast, refined white carbs such as white bread and white rice should be avoided as they trigger spikes in insulin levels which increase fat accumulation.
If you struggle with cravings for sugars or carbs, try a glucomannan supplement. This valuable source of natural fiber reduces hunger by gently expanding in the stomach and balancing blood sugar levels. Finally, don’t drop your routine as soon as summer arrives. For the best results, adopt these tips as part of your lifestyle and continue eating well and taking care of yourself throughout the summer.
The arrival of the warmer weather is the perfect incentive to step away from the gym and head outside. Just fifteen minutes of daily exercise can be beneficial, but for fast results combine a mixture of cardio and toning exercises to target problem areas such as the stomach, thighs, or bingo wings. If you’re not a fan of traditional exercising, try a brisk walk in the park or join a local class.
It’s important to acclimatise to the heat by gradually increasing the intensity of your workouts as you adapt to the conditions. The hotter the weather, the harder your body has to work, so on extra hot days either reduce your speed or shorten your workout. You may find it easier to exercise in the morning before temperatures reach their peak or head to the comfort of an air-conditioned gym.
With the heat, you will also need lightweight, breathable clothing that pulls moisture away from your skin and helps you stay cool. Drinks something cold before, during and after exercise to cool the body down, stay hydrated and replenish electrolytes lost through sweat. However you choose to exercise, start now so that you have a well-established routine by the time summer comes around.
Exfoliate and moisturise
After the cold and harsh winter months, it is common to notice dry and cracked skin around the face, elbows and knees, so it’s important to show your skin some TLC.
Regular exfoliation promotes cell regeneration and is essential for the appearance of youthful skin, and this goes for the whole body. Use a gentle exfoliating scrub daily to brighten the skin and moisturise when you get out of the shower and before bed. This is the perfect time of year to move to lighter creams and lotions. During the cooler winter month, many of us rely on heavy, rich moisturisers to protect our skin against the elements. However, these can be oily and pore clogging.
As the weather warms, opt for a lighter moisturiser with SPF protection to soften and soothe the skin. And don’t forget your lips. Without protection, the lips can become dry, cracked and sore so use a lip balm with sun protection. Most importantly, keep it simple. Choose light creams and don’t overdo the makeup.
Don’t forget the feet
After being stuffed inside boots all winter, it is common for feet to appear neglected with patches of dry skin on the heels and sides. Get your feet flip-flop ready without blowing tons of money on salon pedicures.
First, soak and exfoliate your feet in warm water to remove any extra dry skin. Once dry, use a foot file or pumice stone to ease away cracked heels and calluses. Then find a good moisturising foot cream. The soles of the feet don’t have any oil glands, which is why they can easily become dehydrated and cracked.
If you suffer from particularly sweaty feet, you can use antiperspirants designed for underarms on the feet. There are also specialised insoles available which are designed to absorb perspiration from sweaty feet. If the muscles in your feet feel tired or tight after an active day, use a tennis ball to relieve discomfort. Sit on a chair and roll a tennis ball underfoot, slowly moving it up and down the inner arch until the muscles feel looser and pain-free.
Sun protection extends to your hair. The heat, sun and humidity can cause the hair to become dull, dry and fly away so now is the time to start preparing your hair so that it remains healthy and shiny throughout the summer. A deep conditioner adds moisture to protect the hair from damage, and a weekly essential oil mask helps to rehydrate the hair and scalp. Also, take advantage of the warmer weather by air drying your hair as much as possible, and switching to the lower heat setting on the hairdryer when needed.
If you have coloured hair, you need to be extra careful. The sun oxidises hair colour which makes it look dry and fried. If you’re outdoors for a long period of time, cover hair up with a hat or scarf to protect against the strong rays of the sun. Keratin treatments can also help to seal in colour and hydration and leave the hair less vulnerable to heat. If you go swimming, always wash your hair as soon as you leave the sea/pool to wash out the salt/chlorine which can damage hair.
Ensure your hair receives all the nutrients it requires with a diet rich in B vitamins, vitamin C, selenium, iron, and collagen. Eggs, sweet potatoes, bell peppers, spinach and lentils are all good foods to promote hair growth. A combined hair, skin and nails formula is popular during the summer months to protect all three with one convenient supplement.
We lose a lot of fluid during the warmer months, which can contribute to low energy levels, dry skin and an inefficient digestive system. Water is a natural detoxifier, so increasing your intake can help to flush toxins from the system and boost weight loss and dwindling energy levels. It also moisturises the skin from the inside out so promotes healthy, glowing skin.
Aim to drink at least two litres of fresh water each day, with one glass before each meal to aid digestion and weight loss. You can also refuel with certain fruits; grapes and melons are more than 80% water so are perfect for replenishing fluids. Freeze them for an even more refreshing treat. Limit your consumption of caffeinated beverages such as coffee and fizzy drinks that dehydrate the body.
Fake a tan
We all want a healthy summer glow but unfortunately there are many dangers associated with it, including an increased risk of cancer and premature ageing. While regular sun exposure is crucial to keep our vitamin D levels within a healthy range, fifteen minutes a day is all we need. Protect against sun damage by following these simple rules; don’t lie out between 11am and 2pm when the sun is at its strongest; reapply sunscreen periodically every couple of hours; and always wear a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses to protect from over exposure.
For those of us who tend to panic-tan as soon as we arrive at our holiday destination, self-tanning can be a good option to reduce the need to lie in the sun for prolonged periods of time. There are now many high-quality self-tanners available even for those with fair skin so you can find a formula that looks natural for your skin tone. Make sure you exfoliate well before tanning to remove patches of dry skin that may cause the colour to be uneven.