Charlotte Hawkins Swaps The Gym For Power-Gardening

I love this time of year; the extra sunshine and lighter evenings are putting a spring in my step and lifting my mood. Not only that, but it focuses my mind on the challenge of being ‘summer ready’. In the winter months, it’s easier to stay covered up, with layers and woolly jumpers hiding any lumps and bumps. But I’m getting excited to rock my summer wardrobe. My motivation at this time of year is thinking of that bikini I’ll be wearing, and wanting to stretch out on the sand with confidence. I do like a bit of preparation time and it’s always good to have goals to work towards. For me, it’s not about aiming to look like a supermodel from a magazine (most of those photos are airbrushed anyway), it’s about feeling happy and confident in my own skin.

I’m planning on making this time of year work for me, by getting outdoors as much as possible. I’m still going horse-riding once a week, which has been great not only for the exercise, but a good dose of fresh air at the same time. Plus, gardening when I can – three hours of gardening has the same effect as an intense hour-long gym session, and I know which I’d rather do! It’s good to make the most of not having to slog it out exercising in an airconditioned gym, as there are so many more ways to be active during the summer. I’ve been playing games in the garden with my four-year-old, running races and playing catch, and my latest plan is to make use of Ella Rose’s climbing frame, as it’s the perfect place for a suspension trainer. I did briefly consider giving the monkey bars a go, but I think it’ll take a lot more practise before I’m swinging from those anytime soon!

Summer is my favourite time of year foodwise as well, and the barbecue has been out in full force. I love having grilled meat or fish, no carbs, but lots of salads and char-grilled vegetables. It’s great to be able to make the most of seasonal and local fruit and veg, as it tastes amazing. I’ll be planting salad leaves again this year as there’s nothing better than gathering homegrown veggies to eat. I find upping my fruit and veg intake by getting smoothied-up, packs in the nutrition and vitamins, which is a great way to get that summer glow.

Here are my top tips for staying motivated throughout June:

1. Get outdoors

There are more daylight hours, so there’s no excuse for not having the time to be more active. Get up early or make the most of those late summer evenings by going for a run, cycle or power walk.

2. Be creative with your workouts

Try power-gardening, and utilising outdoor equipment and games to mix things up and make it interesting. Enjoy the warmer weather by walking more – ditch the car or bus and make the time to get there on foot.

3. Adapt to summer eating

Cut out the carbs and have grilled meats and fish with salads to help you on the way.

4. Enjoy the sunshine

We usually suffer from a lack of vitamin D during the winter months so enjoy it while it lasts. Take a walk in your lunch break or head for a park. Recent research has said this is one of the most effective stress-busting treatments. Look around you at the sky, the trees, the flowers, not down at your phone, it’s good for your soul.

Health & Wellbeing