Healthify Summer Fun

Written by Karen Verna Carlson, N.D., Ph.D..

“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809-1894)

The symphonic cicadas are an audio background while the sound studio in my mind plays that old tune, “It’s summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime….”   I LOVE THIS SEASON!   Fun opportunities abound ~ from a simple lunchtime picnic during a busy workweek to a sublime summer at the shore.  Mother Nature entices us to savor the outdoors, to stroll the neighborhood on a cool evening, to chill around the pool on the doggiest of days. 

Grilling turns dinnertime into a festive occasion for a spontaneous block party or a quiet chat with neighbors on the patio.  We frolic with gusto and feel a delicious calm at bedtime as we watch the last few fireflies blink here and there.  You know that kind of calm.  It infuses our bodies after some glorious outdoor exertion under an idyllic blue sky dappled with a few cottony clouds. It’s that peaceful, easy feelin’ after a vigorous country bike ride, a long walk on the beach, a backyard volleyball game….

~ Spontaneity, Variety, Surprises ~

Summertime, summertime, sum, sum, summertime makes it easy to express the fun part of being functional.  Summertime spawns spontaneity, variety, surprises.  Summertime is the perfect time to sneak in some easy health upgrades that may outlast the season.  I say, “Now is the time to healthify!”  We’re having such a rollicking good time, who’s going to balk at making a few minor changes for the better?

~ Fresh Food ~

·         We can joyfully let a whole-wheat multi-grain bun soak up those burger juices.  

·         We can blissfully pile on extra slices of local tomatoes bursting with vitamin C. 

·         We can creatively build spectacular salad meals to broom clean our innards.

·         We can savor fresh local fruits with just a dollop of ice cream to reawaken our palettes numbed by too much refined sugar.

                                             ~ Culinary Creativity ~

·         We can substitute creamy avocado for some of the mayo called for in coleslaw, potato and egg salads to raise their nutrition value, becoming known for our green variations.

·         We can combine yoghurt and/or blenderized frozen bananas with a little ice cream to healthify that seasonal treat.  Add some tasty high fiber cereal for crunch and you’re guilt-free!

·         We can snack on a succulent ear of corn, nuked for three minutes on high in its husk.

·         We can party at a pick-your-own-produce farm and pack goodies into the freezer for winter taste treats.

                                              ~ Refreshing Fluids ~

·         We can mix real fruit juices with sparkling water or seltzer for festive alcohol-free drinks.

·         We can refreshingly cleanse our cells with copious draughts of pure water.

·         We can blenderize watermelon pulp into Nature’s best electrolyte smoothie imaginable.

                                                      ~ Exercise ~ 

·         We can serenely do five minutes of muscle stretches after playing softball. 

·         We can adventurously crank up a brisk walk on the boardwalk after a relaxing round of miniature golf.

·         We can buoyantly march bilaterally neck deep in the pool to balance what Albert Einstein originally called the “subtle energy” systems of our bodies.  Left arm and right leg move together, then right arm with left leg.

                                                       ~ Attitude ~ 

·         We can compassionately boost sincerity in our conversations.

·         We can co-create planning, preparation and clean-up with all family members to eliminate drudgery and effort.

·         We can be faster on the draw with genuine apologies when we stomp on somebody’s toes or hurt their feelings.

                                                        ~ Ecology ~

·         We can be better environmental stewards and clean up after the party so that the space (indoors or out) is nicer than we found it.

·         We can strengthen our minds by learning names of plants or birds or insects, or of constellations when stargazing around the firepit.   

·         We can be kinder to critters we encounter outdoors and cultivate a paradigm shift of sharing rather than dominance.

·         We can celebrate Nature’s beauty and mystery by displaying that empty bird’s nest, seashell or beehive.

                                                    ~ Community ~

·         We can donate excess summer stuff for distribution among those less fortunate.

·         We can introduce games and sports that foster collaboration rather than cut-throat competition.

                                                    ~ Spirituality ~

·         We can demonstrate grace, compassion, consideration as we flit around on errands and excursions.                                                

·         We can intimately reminisce before bedtime or during winter’s drear about the sunlit pleasures that brightened our hearts and revitalized our bodies.

~ Whimsical Integration ~

Nourishment, exercise, attitude, ecology, community, spirituality can all be healthified while we luxuriate during these lazy, hazy summer days and nights.  We’re talking minor changes that can be whimsically integrated with our usual patterns of summer fun.  Think of focusing on healthful activity as a continuous thread in the tapestry of living holistically.  Experience has proven to me that if I consistently volunteer for small easy changes, life is less likely to wallop me with occasional big ones.

Entrained with our multisensory joy of this season, these changes can be consistently maintained while green leaves turn colors, drop into a beige and russet carpet and sleep under a blanket of snow.  Reinforce this entrainment scrap-booking photos and memorabilia.  Inspire family participation to exponentially increase the lingering delights of summertime adventures.

~ More Health Is Better ~

Entrainment fosters brain links of tastes, aromas, sights and sounds with physical activities to stimulate dormant nerve pathways.  When the stimuli are pleasurable, wholesome actions are easy to repeat.  When more nerve pathways function associated with that magical first syllable, fun, they become available more of the time for more creative thinking, more choices “out of the box” of old habits.  More is better when it comes to the health of living well.   

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