Now that it’s summer, I’m enjoying a typical teacher’s vacation: summer break. I have three months of freedom, which for many is a dream come true. However, I live in the sweltering Midwest, where it’s typical to see mid-summer temperatures of one hundred degrees or more, with an even higher heat index. These oppressive temperatures can continue into late October.
Summer can be just as dismal as winter because many of us feel that we are stuck inside, with temptations like mindless television and tempting foods surrounding us. And of course, those temptations can lead to diabetics falling off the proverbial wagon and slipping into an unhealthy pattern.
I have a type A personality, and with it comes the drive to make plans and lists. On one hot summer day, I pulled out my idea notebook and began jotting down ways to make ordinary days special. In order to do this, I had to reflect on what brought me joy.
First, I love herbal, fruity teas. I drink them plain and on ice. The flavors of orange, berry, or lemon and lime are not only refreshing, but tea is calorie-free. Plus, it’s very easy to get dehydrated in the summer, and caffeine-free tea keeps me hydrated. Another option is to add slices of cucumber, orange, or lemon to a glass of ice water to give it a hint of flavor without a significant amount of carbohydrates.
I have always been bothered by the heat, and now that I have diabetes, I have found that high temperatures tend to lower my blood sugar, sometimes to the point of frequent hypoglycemia. Last summer, I made the best purchase: a $20 inflatable kiddie pool. Even on extremely hot days, I fill the pool with ice-cold water from the hose and play in it with my toddler (while sipping fruity tea, of course!). Being in the sunshine boosts my mood, and water always seems to invigorate me.
I love dancing of nearly any kind, as does my daughter. We frequently plug my iPod into the kitchen radio and dance to whatever inspires us. Sometimes we make up boisterous tangos to Michael Buble songs or we slowly dance to an old favorite. Giving in to our silly side while getting an indoor workout brings smiles to our faces.
I cannot say enough about the library. First, who doesn’t like free book shopping? And there’s so much to see and touch. From the water fountain in the front, to the book drop, to the friendly staff, to the new releases, what’s not to love? Plus, you can rent movies from the library at no charge and enjoy them from the comfort of your home on especially hot evenings.
Finally, I love to make new recipes. In the summer, I find it refreshing to make cold pasta salads (flavored with herbs and olive oil) full of fresh garden veggies. Another new discovery of mine is freezing pieces of fruit (orange slices or grapes, for example) drizzled with dark chocolate. I’m still diligently searching for the perfect hummus recipe. The foods I create in the summer tend to be light and full of hydrating ingredients (like fruits and veggies).
What brings you joy? Make a list, and don’t you dare check it twice! Just decide that today is the day to do rather than plan. Pick something off your list and start boosting your mood and your motivation naturally. I had to decide that there was no need to live another long summer day without inspiration, energy, and beauty.