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10 Ideas for a Simple, Healthy Summer

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Don't you just love the beginning of summer? There's something so exciting about the time of year that marks the end of the school year, longer days, and an opportunity to delight in the simple things. It's the season for picnics by the lake, the smell of sunscreen, and fresh tomatoes from the garden.

What if we decided to make the summer of 2014 a simple, healthy one? Do you long to turn off the gadgets and make some great memories? Wouldn't it be nice to feel better by making some simple healthy choices?

I invite you to share your ideas with me, and if you're a Twitter type, use the hash tag #simplehealthysummer. Here are ten ideas to get you started:

  1. Plant something. Everything else in life is so instant these days, but some things are worth the wait. Gardening takes patience, but the payoff is delicious and healthy. My husband is the one with the green thumb, and helped my daughter start a garden. She absolutely loves tending to her garden, and there is something so simple yet so important about a child planting something and watching it grow.
  2. Tennis, anyone? You don't need a country club membership to get in on the fun. Most communities have free public courts, and it's not expensive if you buy some basic racquets and tennis balls -- nothing fancy. My daughter and I have started playing several times a week and we're improving every time. If you're an adult and you're terrible like me, play with a kid and you can build your skills together.
  3. Check out some free, live music. Live music is good for the soul, and even better when it's heard outside. Check your local entertainment calendars for free, outdoor shows. Invite some friends and pack a healthy picnic with fresh fruits and veggies to share.
  4. Give back. I grew up Methodist, and a common phrase growing up was about giving "your prayers, your presence, your gifts, and your service." What do you have to give this summer? Could you take one vacation day and devote it to volunteer work? Could you spend a few less bucks on coffee and give to a charity of your choice?
  5. Ditch the sugary drinks and liven up your water. I'm not a huge fan of plain Jane water, but I love making "spa water" at home. Buy a nice glass pitcher and cut up some fresh fruit, add water and ice and stick it in the fridge. It's delicious, inexpensive, and much better than sodas. My favorite is cucumber and rosemary water.
  6. Challenge your limits. I am a little nervous about stating this publicly, because then I'll feel the pressure to actually do it, but I have never done a cartwheel, and I want to learn how this summer. What can you do this summer you've always wanted to do but never learned?
  7. Just dance! The city where I live has an excellent ballet, and they offer up classes for all levels. Personally, I fall under the "can't dance unless I've had several cocktails" category, and even that is a little debatable. A few drop-in classes might change that. Our ballet even offers classes where you can learn the dances to major music videos. How fun is that?
  8. Leave your car at home. Even if it's just for a day here and there, explore your city without your car. Take public transportation and walk to your destination, or pick a weekend and ditch your car keys. Explore your neighborhood on foot. Not only is it a healthy choice, you save on gas and your perspective changes for the better.
  9. Revisit your public library. With so many electronics at our fingertips, we tend to forget about our public libraries. When my husband and I first started dating, we would check out classic movies at the library. One summer we tried an Italian theme, renting classic Italian films and cooking at home together. If you have kids, let them check out as many book as they can carry.
  10. Try making a new kind of food. A few weekends ago, my friend went to a local Asian grocery and bought all kinds of delicious ingredients, then invited us over to make spring rolls together. She whipped up a delicious peanut sauce, and we all sat around the table, making our own spring rolls. Venture out to a local international food market and try something new!

Enjoy your #healthyhappysummer!

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