Finding your healthiest self this swimsuit season doesn’t necessarily mean having the perfect beach body.
As the seasons start to change and warm weather rolls in, many of us start focusing on weight we think we’ve gained during the winter. During this time we’re often flooded with quick weight loss schemes and 7-minute ab workouts even more than usual — it’s enough to make anyone self-conscious.
With all this “fitspo,” we may forget what it truly means to be healthy and happy, as the Guardian reminds us. You don’t need to make your life’s only focus training 24/7 for the unrealistic and overvalued beach body. A better goal is to find balance within active living. Starting a measured, basic workout plan is the best way to stay or start getting into shape. Let’s go over some great first steps, for both your body and mind, to help you be your best at the beach and beyond.
Having six pack abs and bulging biceps does not necessarily mean you’re healthy, just as not having them doesn’t mean you are unhealthy. Nonetheless, staying physically active and getting exercise is key to a healthy body and mind. Here are four full-body exercises that will help you stay healthy regardless of muscle size:
At one point or another, we have all probably had to do some push-ups, and there’s good reason our gym teachers made us do them. Push-ups target a variety of muscles, primarily the chest, triceps, and core, but also your shoulders and back, according to Active. Make sure to change up the variety of the exercise to work different groups.
Perhaps one of the silliest looking yet most difficult exercises out there, the burpee is a dynamic move that will have you burning in no time. From a standing position, squat down and place your hands on the ground before kicking your feet behind you into a push-up position. Complete one push-up, bring your feet back under you and forcefully leap into the air to finish. If you’re feeling really bold, add a dumbbell in each hand, or jump straight into a pull-up.
Great for your lower body in particular, squats also work your core, back, and shoulders, according to the LifeHack. Stand pulling your shoulders back while engaging your core with your feet hip-width apart. As if you were about to sit in a chair, push your hips and butt back until your thighs are least parallel to the floor (if not lower). Keep your weight on your heels and stand back up to the starting position.
If spending time in the gym and “working out” aren’t really your forte, get outside and go for a hike, as HealthFitnessRevolution recommends. Walking alone has tremendous health benefits, according to Huffington Post, but add even more with elevation gain and altitude. Hiking for only one hour can burn 500 calories, and is easier on your joints than walking on concrete or asphalt. Trekking can help lower your blood pressure and tone your body. The added benefit of the beautiful outdoors has been shown to even help with depression and rumination.
Being healthy extends beyond strictly the physical sphere and, arguably more importantly, into the mental. Having a positive body image means that you can accept and appreciate the things that make you you — no matter what anyone else or society says. The logical extension of a positive body image is practicing mindfulness, which means that you concentrate on the circumstances of the present moment through thought or meditation and accept them wholeheartedly. Psychology Today explains how research shows that mindfulness can actually bolster your immune system, decrease depression (as HelpGuide reports), and lengthen your life. Here are three simple mindfulness exercises to practice everyday, thanks to MayoClinic:
Focus on Your Breathing
Find a quiet place to sit, relaxed, with your back straight. Pay attention to your breathing as you inhale and exhale, letting other worries and concerns fall away. Feel your chest expand and collapse. As your mind wanders, gently steer it back to your breathing, avoiding any judgement or frustration. The goal is on progress here — not to become a perfect meditator.
When you can, eat alone with no distractions, as Living Well recommends. That means no cell phones, TV, tablets, or company. Notice every detail of the food you are about to consume before you even begin eating. Look at the texture, colors, its shape, how it smells. As you bite into the food, notice the way it feels on your tongue, its weight and texture, the early flavors. Once you begin chewing, continue to focus on every minute detail you experience. You might have a new appreciation for eating.
Find Novelty in the Familiar
Take a familiar object like your toothbrush and try to notice any new details or information you have not perceived before. Take your time and really look at the objects with fresh eyes, imagining it is the first time you have seen it.
With a newfound sense of self-awareness and true health, you will be confident and ready for the beach season knowing your body is perfect they way it is. On your health journey, make sure to listen to your body and maintain regular health check-ups. Use SingleCare to find the right practice or practitioner for your healthcare needs, and pay only for the treatment you need at the most affordable cost, whatever your level of insurance coverage. No matter how you look, you’ll be confident and happy while you soak up the summer sun.
(Main image credit: Jean Vallaincourt/Thinkstock)