Do any of the following scenarios sound familiar to you?
Day drinking in the park that leads to *another* tipsy night out
Hours spent on patios with pitchers of mimosas or mojitos
Lazy days spent floating on lakes in Inflatables
Camping trips where the alcohol supply is more plentiful than food
When I read the results of a Glow poll of 3,000 women that found that July is the month with the highest alcohol consumption, followed by August (and then May and June) I wasn’t surprised in the least.
I used to drink more habitually in the winter (that comforting, cosy glass of wine at the end of the day), however, it was summer drinking that often led to excess.
Unfortunately, while we tend to greet the summer with wild abandon, this same carefree attitude combined with the heat can lead to drinking more than we intend, blacking out, worse hangovers and possibly more pounds packed on by the end of the season.
What if you could still have a great time, feel as though you are indulging your senses and taste buds, while actually reaping health benefits rather than killing brain cells and increasing bloating?
Though my days of drinking the summer away have come to pass, and I’m now a holistic health coach who supports successful women to redefining their relationship to alcohol, I still see this pattern over seasonal over-drinking show up with my clients.
For many, summer might be synonymous with alcohol, it doesn’t have to be the way.
This season can actually be the perfect time to indulge new, healthier habits.
Yes, I did say indulge because this isn’t about restriction or punishment, it’s about enjoying the season even more, feeling amazing and soaking up every second (and remembering everything)!
Drink lots of water
While this may seem obvi, it’s easy to forget in favour of something tastier or boozier. I try to follow a 2×1 rule, especially in the summer, which 2 non-alcoholic drinks for every alcoholic one.
Summer is also the perfect time to try out three of my favourite hydrating beverages: infused waters, agua fresca and spritzers.
Infused waters are pretty straightforward to make. Put some of your favourite summer fruits (berries work especially well) and fresh herbs in a pitcher or jar of water, and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight. Some of my favourite combinations are citrus + cilantro, blueberry and lavender, strawberry + mint, raspberry + basil, and blackberry + rosemary.
My time spent living in Mexico introduced me to a whole realm of non-alcohol beverage possibilities in the form of “Agua frescas.” Ingredients are blended together and strained, then poured over ice. Some of my summer favourites are super hydrating and anti-bloating cucumber or watermelon as a base, the citrus (lemon, lime or orange) and possibly some mint mixed in. You can also try orange + pineapple + turmeric which is anti-inflammatory, or add ginger to any agua fresca to help with digestion. Many recipes call for added sugar, however, I find most fruits are sweet enough in the summer, and if I bit a bit more sweetener is needed, I opt for agave. These are super easy to make and always a crowd pleaser at a picnic.
One of my favourite and slightly “fancier” water options are pretty much anything mixed with sparkling water – aka, a spritzer. You can top muddled fruit or fruit juice with sparkling water, and experiment with some of the same flavour combinations mentioned above. There really are endless effervescent options and I find there is a festive element when bubbly is added.
During the summer, I always recommend BYOB, and know, the last B doesn’t stand for Booze.
Bring your own Bottle (refillable water bottle) ensures that you will always have water on hand and it will be harder to “forget” to hydrate.
Now that you have a repertoire of “waters” (see above) to choose from, you can tantalize your taste buds and be tempted to drink MORE water, not less.
Set clear intentions
One of the techniques I use often with my clients is the process of setting clear intentions by reverse-engineering. Spend a few moments imagining how you want to feel at the end of the evening or when you wake up the next morning.
Then, decide how many drinks you can drink and what your strategy will be for staying true to your intentions. It always helps to have your alternatives pre-made or on hand if it’s a BYOB type situation, or if you are going to a new restaurant or bar, look up their menu ahead of time and decide which non-alcoholic alternative you will try. The more you can pre-meditate your choices, the easier it will be to stay conscious instead of slipping back into autopilot.
Get your squad on board
And while intentions-setting can be an amazing strategy, you’ve probably heard that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. It’s one thing to set a clear guideline for yourself, it’s another beast entirely to remember to actually act on it and follow through.
This is where accountability is super important.
Get a friend (or your whole squad) on board with setting intentions and helping each other remember. As Dr Erin Baker’s writes in her blog about accountability, several scientific studies show that people are more adherent to health and wellness interventions when they receive prompts and reminders from humans rather than computers.
Make it fun
We are hard-wired for pleasure and respond to rewards more easily and quickly than we do to punishment. Creating a reward system can help motivate change in the beginning. Rewards will trigger dopamine, which feels good… therefore we are more likely to want to repeat the new behaviour or habit we are trying to establish. This is also where trying to recipes and getting friends on board can make this feel more nourishing rather than depriving.
In the same vein as “make it fun” – using daily affirmations to remind yourself of why you are making these changes and how you will feel after a month of doing them.
Set reminders in your phone, or ask a friend to check in with you. Spend a few moments each moment repeating or writing out your affirmations.
Remember, change is hard… we are literally hard-wired to resist it. This is true for our drinking habits as much as anything else. That being said, summer is the perfect time to practice, especially with so many tasty and fresh alternatives (that goes for both drinks and activities!)
Following these six strategies will ensure that you beat the heat and the hangovers, and most importantly, know that you’ve lived your “best yes” as you head into September.