Well, summer and holidays are nearly upon us and even though you’re really needing a break, you don’t feel up to it. You want to lose weight, can’t even look at yourself in the mirror, you want to get healthy and fit, because you’re plainly NOT; you’re always tired, maybe You’ve not fully recovered from Covid? and you know you’ll eat and drink too much, and you don't sleep well in the heat. And then there’s Christmas Day itself.

Forget about getting ‘fit’. It’s just not gonna happen in summer. In that heat? It’s simply dangerous. And what does it really mean? That term - ‘fitness’ has a taste of eugenics about it for good reason. Herbert Spencer was the first to use the term in 1864, writing that ‘those who survive the struggle are by definition not only the fittest but also morally the best’. What does that remind you of? Yes, the Nazis who followed his logic. Spencer applied this theory and these sentiments not just to individuals but to society in general. The suffering caused by mean spiritedness, cruelty and racism is part of the benevolent forces of Nature, says Social Darwinism. As long as it didn’t happen to Mr Herbert Spencer and rich white people, I guess.

Even now, when people say they are ‘fit’, they are saying they are ‘good’. We still conflate the two terms, and in doing so, criticise ourselves and others. As the skinny lady said, you can be ever be too rich or too thin; and you can never be ‘good’ or ‘fit‘ enough. Take your eye off the weights or Fitbit, eat that cake, drink that wine, have some pleasure, and you have slipped back. More effort and always, more money, must be expended to reach that nebulous, unreachable, goal, and all the time that voice inside is telling you you’re not ‘good’ or you’d ‘bad’.
Tell that voice to put a sock in it. Or cake.

The healthiest bodies I see belong to people who walk. They carry their own weight, they get out in the open air, and they use every muscle in their body as they contract and then stretch all the muscles of the legs, spine and trunk, arms and neck. Exercise that just contracts us not great.
And walking doesn’t cost a penny. Swimming is OK but it doesn’t carry your weight, and your body temperature doesn’t rise. And of course turning your head 5000 times while swimming can inflame an old injury. But worse - you have to do your hair again! Running in summer? Nah. Running in summer at A Certain Age? Definitely nah.

So in summer, walk in the cool morning or evening, with the dog if you’re lucky enough to be owned by one. See if you can reach 7,000 to 10,000 steps in total throughout the day. Take the stairs. Walk to get your lunch, or eat it in a park. There’s plenty of ways to get your steps up without busting a phoofer.

Weight loss? With all the low carb, keto, paleo palaver, WW, Noom, and suggestions about, it still comes down to this - intake of energy, ie calories, must be lower than expenditure. There is the weekly injection of Oxempic, the drug company dream, which does drop weight by removing appetite, if you keep it up, but recent research shows that once you stop your very expensive weekly injections the weight returns. And who knows what it’s doing to your pancreas?

We simply have to eat smarter, and eat less. Many people have lost weight by reducing carbs, and we’ve found that many people have seen their general fatigue, aches and pains dissipate with a low carb diet within days. But generally, we simply eat too much food or too many dense foods, in each meal. We can use salads fruit and greens - in themselves, mostly water - to fill up our bellies while still enjoying a reasonable amount of fat and protein.

And until we knew better, we were all eating too much sugar. Now we know we can enjoy 70% chocolate and coconut and stevia. There’s plenty of ways to have your cake, if it’s the right cake.

Drink a lot of water each day, especially in summer. All those older people who die in the heat have reduced awareness and tolerance to heat, and are often on diuretics and a low salt diet. As for drinking alcohol, it’s no mistake the models drink vodka & soda, aka the ‘Skinny Bitch’. I don’t know if it’s the lower calories in vodka or the increased hydration due to the soda, but that’s how they stay (too) thin. As well, low and no alcohol beer is a revelation. Wine, I’m afraid, doesn’t help. Dehydration is epidemic and causes poor cognition, mood changes, headaches, joint pain, constipation and poor sleep. So please, drink up.

But! In summer, and in extreme heat, please don’t restrict your salt. Never eat too much, of course, but we really need salt, just as we really need iodine, and the best salt is that the originates in the sea and so contains the scores of minerals that we all need. Potassium, calcium, copper, iron, zinc, sodium, magnesium, iodine, even gold. Salt that comes from the inland seas, deserts and mountains can be denuded, lacking iodine and that’s why before their table salt was iodised, endemic cretinism was so common in those regions. So a swim in the ocean is extraordinarily good for us - after all we are mostly water and that within us is very close in content to sea water. If you can’t get to the ocean, use the grey coloured sea salt from France on your food. It’s really tasty and a wonderful elixir.

Salt inhalations and Vitamin D2 and D3 have been proven to help reduce the incidence and duration of Covid infections. As well as improving mood, assisting depression, affecting fertility, and metabolism generally. Vitamin D is fat soluble, as are all your hormones, so, you have to have fat in your diet to carry the hormones about. Good, real fats. Animal, olive, butter, coconut, fish, nut oils. Not hydrogenated oils like palm oil or Canola, which are inflammatory trans fats. And of course we get Vitamin D from sun exposure to large areas of skin, like your back. But don’t be out there too long. We did that way too much as kids and are suffering now, aren’t we?

And of course I’m an osteopath, so I’ve seen how getting your mechanical strains removed by intelligent Osteopathic care permits people to sleep well, because their bodies aren’t held in strain and contraction, so they can become flaccid and fall asleep; and how their movement becomes more efficient and their posture more ‘easy normal’ and balanced. Unless there’s a big dent in it, it’s not your mattress, and if your pillow is hard and high, that’s no good; but generally, it’s your torsioned rib cage pulling on your neck. And your lumbar spine pulls on the ribs, and the pelvis pulls on the lumbar spine and the uneven tension of legs pull the pelvis into a twist and the whole thing needs a regular major service. Just like cars, a balance, well serviced machine uses less fuel and rides better. You will feel and function better with a better functioning body.

Finally? Be gentle to yourself this summer. Treat yourself as you would a dear friend. Morning stretches! Get onto it! An afternoon nap, tick! Another soda water before the champers, thank you waiter! Less ice cream, more watermelon… nurse! 70% chocolate, stat!

Read and watch those things that sooth and elevate your mind, mood and spirit. Make this a gentle summer of self love. Enjoy!