Summer Body

By Alicia Hayes, Speaker for niNe. magazine200390106-001With summer around the corner, people are talking about getting their “summer bodies” ready. I’m all for taking care of your body and working towards making yourself more healthy and fit, but that’s not what people mean when they talk about their “summer bodies.” What they often mean is that a summer body is a super-skinny body. A summer body is something that people look at, not something that people admire for its strength and natural beauty. Crash diets, over-exercising, diet pills and more are often marketed with this idea of “getting your summer body.” None of these things are healthy. Your body is a summer body because you have a body that’s enjoying summer. Here are some ways to continue caring for your summer body and develop some healthy body-related habits:

Eating

I love eating. I have a massive sweet tooth, my best friend and I constantly obsess over cheese, and most of my pins on Pinterest are on my “Nom-Noms” board. Maybe you feel pressure to not eat much so that you can lose weight and gain that “summer body.” Or maybe you’re underweight but everyone keeps telling you how good you look so you feel frustrated because of your struggle with weight gain. Eating a healthy, well-balanced meal is a key step to keeping your body healthy. Some universal healthy eating habits are:

1.) drink water as consistently as you can

2.) half of your day’s food intake should be fruit and vegetables

3.) a quarter of your daily food intake should be protein

4.) the remaining quarter of our food intake should be starches.

You may have other specific eating habits to keep your body healthy such as doctor-mandated restrictions, religious limitations or little treats that you indulge in to keep you going throughout the day. But breaking your daily diet into the basics may be the best place to start.

Exercise

I used to really hate exercising. I avoided it like the plague. I just wanted to eat healthy and figured that was enough. Not only was I wrong, but I was missing out. My junior year in college I started doing yoga twice a week and I realized how much tension I held in my muscles. I felt significantly better, physically and emotionally, after I started doing yoga. I also walked everywhere on campus so my legs were like a rock. Now that I have a desk job and fitness classes aren’t cheap, I have to make exercise a priority. I walk a mile to two a day, run two to three times a week and do yoga once a week. With school, church, family, extra-curricular activities and more, you also may need to be creative with your exercise routine. Start with something simple and manageable and build up from there.

Skin care

What kind of body care excludes the skin that covers you? There are some global skin-care practices that everyone should utilize (wear sunscreen and apply bug spray). However, I’ve found that the trick to really caring for your skin is to understand that everyone has different skin, so how you care for your skin is going to be different than how I care for my skin. For example, I have dry and sensitive skin. Not only does it often make me feel uncomfortable and tight, but has often resulted in shaving bumps, shoulder zits and very itchy skin. Due to the sensitivity, I can’t use certain body washes and fragranced lotions because they make my sensitivity worse. I’ve learned that simple moisturizing body washes and soap do the trick. Then I have a variety of lotions and aloe that I apply after I shower. I have a few fragranced lotions, but I use them sparingly. With this routine my skin is fairly soft and comfortable. But, my skin care regimen will be different than yours. Start your skin-care routine by noticing how your skin reacts to certain elements and ingredients. Through trial and error, you’ll find the perfect combination for beautiful, radiant skin that makes you feel comfortable.

Check out some of these incredible articles in niNe. magazine regarding safe and helpful skin-care products:

Soft, Beautiful Skin: Top 9 Lotions for Your Body

Fun in the Sun: Prevent Sunburn with the Safest Sunscreens for Your Summer

Loved by God, Loved by You

Taking care of your body comes more naturally if you actually like your body. Due to unrealistic standards set by your friends, family, media and sometimes yourself, you may not really like your body. Starting to really appreciate your body may take some time (it took me years). But, I can tell you from experience – the biggest, best, long-term step you can take is to ask God to show you the love He has for you and the way He made you. God made every person and their body different. Once you understand that God loves how He made you, it becomes easier to love your body and take ownership of it. Take your body insecurities and concerns to God, and He’ll reassure you of His love.

I have found that often, Christians don’t like talking about their bodies. I think this comes from the belief that since we have eternal life in heaven with Jesus that what happens to our bodies doesn’t matter. To be honest, I find this very short-sighted.Our bodies are a blessing and a symbol of God’s creativity. We should take care of all gifts God gave us, and that includes our bodies. This summer, as you enjoy God’s creation, enjoy the body He gave you.