Get Fit 

Keeping body in line with mind and spirit

Yippee, summer's here and I'm excited about all the outdoor activities this season brings. But, like many people in their 30s, I'm also out of shape. As the daytime temperatures climb into the 70s I say to myself, "This summer you're going to eat right, get more exercise and take better care of yourself." I have good intentions. By the time the mid-day temperatures hover in the 90's, though, I'm spending my days running (read: slogging) from air-conditioned home to air-conditioned car to air-conditioned office and back. Not this summer. This summer, I'm taking Dr. Thônng's advice and getting in better shape. If you're anything like me and need to make some improvements, here are some simple ways to get started on a better you:

Get on a healthy diet.

Though a proper diet is a valuable component of a healthy lifestyle, without the proper supervision, a drastic change in your diet can actually be as detrimental to your health. Make an appointment to see your doctor. A tune-up for your body is as important as a tune-up for your car, and doesn't cost much more. With the hundreds of diets and weight loss formulas available, it can be confusing trying to understand which one is right for you. Your doctor can help you find the safest way to lose and/or maintain a healthy weight. You can also find helpful nutrition information at www.nutrition.gov, including planning healthy meals.

Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.

Whether you shop at Winco or the Co-op, adding fresh food to your diet will not only help you maintain a healthy weight, but can help boost your energy level as well. Even the fast-food joints have jumped on the health bandwagon and are now offering larger selections of fruits and salads on their menus. Make a stop at your local produce stand or the Saturday Market a regular part of your week.

Just eat well

Pay as much attention to what goes into your body as to what goes on it. Visualize what happens to a cheeseburger and fries meal as it slogs its way through your intestines. Ugh.

Exercise. Period.

It's no secret that regular exercise should be a part of your everyday life. Again, check with your doctor, and then check the Center for Disease Control Web site (www.cdc.gov), which has loads suggestions for helping even the most sedentary get out and about. If exercise is not a regular part of your schedule, start small. If it takes you less than five minutes to get somewhere in your car, try walking to that same destination once in awhile. If you're too far from the grocery store or the bank to walk, try parking your car as far from those places as you can. Even a few extra yards of walking a day will add up. There are ways to get exercise inside the house as well. Vacuuming, sweeping and dusting are excellent ways to burn calories in the house. You can also get quite a workout in your own yard. Do a little mowing, weeding and planting and you'll work muscles you forgot you even had.

Ride your bike.

As this just happens to be Boise Bike Week 2006 and the price of gas is inching toward $3 per gallon, it's the perfect time to discuss trading in some of your time on four wheels for a little more time on two. Remember the freedom you felt riding your bicycle as a kid? That doesn't have to end just because you work 9 to 5 and have a mortgage to pay. If you haven't been on your bike in awhile, get it out of the garage and over to your local bike shop. Most of them offer a bike tune-up--they'll check your tires and brakes, make sure your seat to the right height and help you find the right helmet--and they also have all the accessories you'll need to make riding your bike as much fun as it was when you were young (you can even stick a Jack of Clubs in the spokes again if you want).

Keep your skin and hair moisturized.

Nothing is harder on hair and skin than direct sunlight. What's the point of your fabulous new body if it's covered in dry, scaly Godzilla-skin and topped off by a head of brittle hair?

Use a deep conditioning treatment in your hair every couple of weeks and always wear a hat when you're out in the sun. If you have long hair, you'll probably wear it up off your neck during the summer, so invest a little money on some decent hair bands and don't wind them around your hair too tightly. Don't use a plastic or synthetic-fiber brush or small-tooth comb on wet hair. Let your hair air-dry whenever possible, avoiding dryers and/or curling irons when you can.

And although your hair should be clean, don't over-clean it. The natural oils in your scalp are good for your hair, but are often stripped away by shampoos and conditioners. Try to use non-alcohol hair-care products.

Now that your hair is soft and shiny, you'll want your skin to match. Use a good moisturizer with SPF especially when doing activities in the water or that cause you to sweat a great deal.

Keep a spray bottle of water nearby to give your hair and skin a little boost during the day. If you wear makeup, keep it simple. Heavy foundations and powders plug pores, preventing cleansers from getting in. If you don't wear makeup, keep your skin moisturized. Don't forget your mouth: a good balm with SPF can prevent your lips from cracking, a look nobody wants to see.

The above tips don't require a doctorate to understand, but it's sometimes the most obvious that is the most overlooked.

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