Mid-August is flying towards us, and I’m greeting it with mixed emotions. On one hand, I’m looking forward to the end of hot and sticky days; on the other hand, the end of summer means saying goodbye to kayaking, swimming, and eating nothing but ripe fruit for dinner. As a result, this month becomes this weird, in-between territory, caught somewhere between sandals and new school supplies.
To deal with this, I’ve decided to embark on some mini-upgrades, ways to take advantage of these last hot days while looking forward to autumn. You know, like filling up the last page of a notebook before cracking open a fresh new one (pro tip, y’all—whether you are in school or not, you NEED new pens and planners for fitness/diet tracking…best feeling ever!)
First up is my exercise routine. The most consistent workout, the one I do all summer, is to go on long hikes with my dogs. I hike so much, in fact, that sometimes I feel like it’s not even a challenge anymore. I had to find a way to make it more of a work-out, so I added hiking poles. Now, I’ll admit they probably look kind of dorky, but no joke: they really work out your abs and arms, turning a leg-centric workout into more of a whole-body challenge. There are a range of fancy-pants poles out there, but the ones I use are under twenty bucks, from Champion, and they do just fine. Make sure to adjust the height of your poles so they hit roughly at armpit level—then grab some water and hit the trail. For an extra burn, throw a kettle bell into a sturdy backpack as you hike with your poles.
Ok, so green monsters are ubiquitous at this point. Whether you are just making green juice or doing a whole-foods smoothie, they can get a little snooze-fest. But they are so good for you, and so easy to do, that I wanted to just jazz them up a little. So I scoured my kitchen for different ingredients and hit upon a magic formula:
*Frozen baby kale—this is kind of life changing, people. Still super nutritious, but incredibly easy. Just plop half the bag in your blender as your base.
*Coconut butter—just a tablespoon adds sweet and creamy goodness, plus healthy fats.
*Cacao powder—this stuff makes your smoothie feel decadent, but it’s packed full of antioxidants.
*Green tea—you can use any kind you want, but I’m partial to this Zhena’s Gypsy Tea in Mojito Mint. We all know green tea is a super food, and a quick splash of brewed tea will add antioxidant rich flavor to your smoothie.
*The secret ingredient—fresh mint! I don’t even care what kind of green monster you are making; fresh mint will infuse it with a fresh, sweet flavor and make your drink a zillion times better.
Your skin might be feeling a little weather-beaten right now. I’ve been into finding natural solutions to soothe and revive a sun ravaged complexion. Most of you are probably familiar with the oil-cleansing method—if not, the basic philosophy is to find an oil that works for you, (grape seed, jojoba, coconut, castor) massage it into your skin, let it hang out for a bit, then gently steam your face with hot water and wipe away the oil with a washcloth. It sounds crazy, but for most skin types, oil-cleansing provides a gentle and effective way to cleanse and heal. I’ve been using it for months now, and have really noticed an improvement in my skin. It’s super easy to make your own oil mix and bottle it, but an easy upgrade I’ve been using are the new oil Boosts from Seventh Generation. There is a whole product range, to treat everything from acne to wrinkles, and you can either cleanse with the oil or add a few drops to your facial lotion. They smell delicious, are very pampering, and couldn’t be easier.
Another upgrade that feels super luxurious is a simple honey mask: ideally, you’ll use raw Manuka honey for this, but it is kind of pricey, so you can also just go for regular organic honey. Just wash your face, slather on some honey, and relax for 10 to 30 minutes. After you rinse, your skin will feel clean, soft and smooth.
These quick upgrades have been helping me start transitioning from summer to fall. What are you guys doing to say goodbye, summer and hello, autumn?
Amity is a writer and a professor at York college.