I did one of these posts in the spring and thought it was so fun to hear everyone’s answers. (Check out the spring post here).
I’m bringing it back again today with a few things that are “saving my life” this summer.
And if the verbiage seems dramatic, just let us live! My love for making ritual out of routines is well-documented. What better way to live life wholeheartedly than making each day a little bit magical? As odd as it sounds, I glean both comfort and inspiration from the momentum of daily life. I LOVE a festive weekday, you know?
I heard the question itself first on Jen Hatmaker’s podcast–she concludes each interview by asking her guest, “what’s saving your life right now?”. I believe she got this question from Barbara Brown Taylor.
I’m here today to share my own answers again–a few things that have brought me some joy and peace this summer.
And would absolutely LOVE to hear everyone’s answers again in the comments section, so please humor me and don’t be shy!
Here’s what’s saving my life this summer:
The Sauna at our Local YMCA
Tyler and I both got super into The Huberman Lab podcast this past spring. Andrew Huberman is a neuroscientist at Stanford on a mission to educate the public about health and science. He covers a variety of topics related to wellness, psychology, and fitness and does so with extreme detail. The podcasts, to me, feel more like comprehensive lectures; therefore, sometimes he goes way over my head, but I try to hold on for dear life and learn as much as I can. Tyler and I often refer to Dr. Huberman with the familiarity of a first cousin, ha! We’ve reoriented our health regimen according to a lot of what we’ve learned from him.
Anyway, Dr. Huberman talks a lot about the science behind deliberate heat exposure (here is the link to his deep dive on it). Apparently, the benefits of regular sauna bathing are indisputable and acknowledged across the scientific community. In short, people who regularly use the sauna have displayed improved longevity and cardiovascular health, lowered cortisol levels, and optimized metabolism and cognition (just to name a few!!). When I first heard all of that, I thought, WHAT AM I DOING WITH MY LIFE.
Despite having joined our local YMCA over a year ago, Tyler and I just started regularly taking advantage of the gym and sauna a few months ago. We had mostly just been using the Y to take the girls swimming and to the splash pad, and Char takes gymnastics there once a week.
SO, we decided to work the sauna into our weekly routine. We started by just trading off shifts during Char’s gymnastics classes, and now we’re both so obsessed that we each try to make it over a few times a week. (It’s also nice to hit the treadmill if I have extra time and get some non-bike cardio in!).
Personally, I started slow: just 10 minutes at a time, and I added about a minute a week to my session. I made it 20 minutes for the first time last week which felt so good and also like death, lol.
I have come to–and I hate to use this word, believe me–crave the sauna. Something about just sitting in the heat, sweat streaming from every pore, releases a very specific kind of endorphin that I’ve come to really look forward to. It’s such a treat to me, and I feel SO good during the weeks that I make it to the sauna a few times.
I’ll add here: it’s important to not overdo it with heat exposure, so I try really hard to listen to my body. I’ll skip it if I’m feeling under the weather or if I’m on my period and don’t want to add any extra stress. And sometimes I’ll just do 12 minutes and call it a day.
Oh, and I always make sure to drink electrolytes on the days I use the sauna–ideally during and after my session–to ensure that I’m rehydrating properly after losing all of that sweat.
I’ve posted about these before, but Tyler and I both swear by LMNT’s electrolyte packets. They don’t have any sugar in them (eye rolling at you, Liquid IV) and taste like really salty Gatorade–we love the citrus flavor. You have to dilute these a lot, though, or else it tastes like you’ve been waterboarded by the Dead Sea. I pour mine into my 30 oz Stanley tumbler with ice cold water and shake it up a TON. (I also love these electrolytes for breastfeeding but that’s a topic for another day). The best price I’ve found for these is on Thrive Market, btw (use my link for $40 off your next order).
Anyway, I know a lot of gyms have saunas, but if you aren’t already paying for a gym..it might be worth looking into your local YMCA! I find the Y extremely affordable for what you get: ours costs just $90 per month for the whole family–pretty good for full access to a state-of-the-art gym and pool that overlooks the Pacific Ocean!?!? The child-watch program is awesome too and has allowed Tyler and I to actually go together sometimes. It feels like a teeny tiny (sweaty) date, lol.
We finally got our backyard to a functional state in June (read: replaced the “weed garden” with more turf and put up a pergola). We still need to finish the landscaping but aren’t in a huge rush–what are “next year’s” for, after all?
This is our first “real” backyard, and by “real” I mean that we–AND THE KIDS–can use it freely. In Oceanside, it was so fun to have a pool, but I never let the girls outside unless I was right there hovering like a Catholic school teacher. And our backyard at our rental wasn’t super kid friendly either.
Now, they play outside all day, provided it’s not too hot, of course. I can ceremoniously send my children outside while I clean the kitchen or fold laundry or *just have a moment* to myself in the house. I don’t know, I think this means I “made it”!?
We also put a lounge set out under the pergola which has been amazing. We’ve never had a nice patio set, and while camping chairs have a time and place, it’s just LOVELY to sit on a couch with an iced coffee while the girls spray each other with the hose. Tyler and I have been eating dinner outside a lot lately too–a nice change of pace from the couch, lol.
I’d be remiss not to mention the arguable star of the new backyard this year–this $35 plash pad from Costco. I can’t oversell this thing, you guys. My kids are obsessed. I wrote this in my newsletter already, and I stand by it: this splash pad is better than our pool at the Oceanside house–for our age of kids, anyway. They spend hours at a time on it. We’ve jerry-rigged a little slip-n-slide situation now by setting up their slide to launch them onto the splash pad. It’s brought everyone so much joy this summer, and I can’t recommend it enough.
I feel like half of my readers will read this and think I’m an alcoholic (my mom, perhaps, and the mormons I love) and the other half will think I’m a prude, but this is just where I’m at right now, ok? I feel like making this change has improved my life a lot this year, so I want to share it.
In recent years, I’ve noticed my tolerance for alcohol has deteriorated. My face gets super red, and I just feel gross after more than a couple of drinks. Also, my recovery after a night of drinking is far more strenuous than it once was. I’m sure it’s some combination of childbearing and aging–can’t be 21 on top of the stage at Slo Brew forever, I suppose!!
And while I do love a glass of..well, almost anything (never tequila though, are you crazy), I just kept noticing that feeling of “starting from scratch” every Monday when I’d try to launch back into my normally scheduled health and wellness routines. I hated feeling sluggish and foggy as I began a new week.
Tyler felt the same as I did, so we decided to cut back together (makes it way easier!). We’ve been piloting this new strategy where we try to put as long of stretches as possible in between nights we consume alcohol. We’re not cutting it out completely, but we are just trying to limit it a couple of times a month, as opposed to a couple of times a week like we did most of our twenties.
And it’s not perfect–the point of this is that we wanted it to be flexible. Basically, we’ll drink on “special occasions” (case by case basis, lol) but not really in between anymore.
And–anyone with a brain could have seen this coming–I feel SO much better now. It really is crazy how big of an impact this has had on my energy levels, fitness performance, and overall mood throughout the week. I just feel much sharper.
Choosing to limit alcohol was challenging at first, as I am such a social drinker. I love a celebratory glass of rosé in the summer or an IPA with a slice of pizza on a Saturday night. And while I’ll still indulge every once in a while, keeping “drinking days” to a minimum has greatly improved my overall quality of life.
(Kind of kicking myself on the timing of this blog post as we are heading on vacation this week, so no one come for me if you catch me wine tasting with my college friends or with a June Shine on the shore of Lake Tahoe!!).
Okay…your turn!! What’s saving your life this summer? Can be big or small, serious or not-so-serious!