Whether it’s been awhile since your last date, or even if it hasn’t, summer is here and it’s the perfect time to reinvigorate your love life. Whether you are a man or woman, gay or straight, single or taken (or anything in between) we all need a little love in our lives for our general well-being.
Love can be felt from various personal relationships, but for the purpose of this article, I’m focusing on romantic love. While it can be easy to overlook, love is a huge part of mental and physical health, general well-being and happiness. One study, which examined more than 300,000 participants, found people who lack strong personal relationships increased their risk of premature death from all causes by 50%.
That’s an effect on mortality risk greater than obesity or physical inactivity and nearly as bad as smoking everyday. Wow.
Though I’m in the “single” category, I’m blessed to have extremely close relationships with friends and family (*wipes sweat from brow) … but in that quest to find my permanent partner in crime, I’m always down to try out a new date activity!
Earlier this summer, I had a dinner date. My date, we’ll call him M, picked me up and instead of going to a restaurant, he surprised me with a picnic near the Martin Luther King memorial — and because he gets what I’m about, he even made it fairly healthy. Swoon. So M had stopped at the grocery store, and picked up some grilled chicken, roasted veggies, blue corn chips with guacamole and a fruit salad for dessert, plus red wine. This was probably cheaper than a night out, but because it was thoughtful, and we spent time in nature on a gorgeous evening, it meant so much more.
Instead of the usual (and potentially unhealthy) go-tos like an indulgent dinner, cocktails, pub food or movie theater snacks, what better time to try a new date idea than the glorious beautiful summer months? If you need a little spark in your dating life, check out these thought starters for inspiration:
SHARE A PASSION
Whether it’s something from the list below or just something you are passionate about, it can be great to share that experience with someone. Plus it’s exciting to introduce your partner to your interests. I love food, so a trip to the farmers market can be a great way to get some steps in, support the local economy and gain exposure to new fruits and veggies. Plus, who doesn’t love a free sample?
TRY SOMETHING NEW
When I start dating someone, it’s almost guaranteed there’s going to be a workout class in the lineup by date number 5. It’s a bonding experience, plus he’ll get to see me at my least polished — sweaty, no makeup and gym hair. There’s nowhere to go but up from that very low baseline. Your partner can actually help keep you on track, too. Studies show married couples who work out together are more likely to adhere to a fitness routine.
I should probably mention that if you are just starting to get to know each other, and you choose a skill-based activity, you should do something neither of you have mastered. I’ve selfishly taken a date to my Corepower hot yoga class, with weights (I still have a little guilt thinking about the image of him slipping and sliding across his yoga mat). So whether it’s an indoor rock-climbing lesson, yoga or a spin class, try something that will allow both of you to learn and be vulnerable together.
GET OUT IN NATURE TOGETHER
In addition to the post-workout endorphins, I get pretty pumped when I work out or step out into nature for a hike. Embark on an adventure together: Exploring mama nature can be glorious (just don’t forget to bring sun protection). Plus, studies have shown that hiking can improve mood and give your brain a boost by increasing problem-solving and creativity by 50%. My inner voice literally sings when I’m hiking; I’ve also had some great conversations with my hiking partners out in nature … that’s my happy place.
You might try going for a bike ride together (always wear a helmet!), golfing or a walking in your neighborhood or favorite park. In addition to quality bonding time, simply adding walking to your routine can reap huge benefits. I should warn that if your date is wearing heels, check in and make sure they are game for a post-dinner walk.
TAKE A COOKING CLASS
The saying goes “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” — and the same is true for women! Even if it’s not a super healthy menu, you’ll pick up some new skills in the kitchen. If a class isn’t in the cards (or terrifies you), make a meal kit from a delivery service together. There are tons of healthy meal delivery options, most of which include step-by-step instructions with pictures and everything you need.
Whether you’re coupled up or blissfully single, you can do all of the activities above with a friend or plan a self-care date with your darn self! Splurge for something special at the seafood or meat counter and make a new healthy dish, take a bath and use that nice towel (Am I the only one who saves the really plush towel for guests?), journal about what you are most grateful for and what you love about you. I grew up with a grateful journal (thanks, Mom!) and learned taking the time to reflect and appreciate my blessings was one of the healthiest things I could do for my health and sanity. Plus, research shows journaling for 15–20 minutes, 3–5 days a week can actually improve your physical and mental health. It truly puts things in perspective.
If you find yourself in a new relationship, these tips might help prevent you from gaining that dreaded “new relationship weight” with your partner. On the flip side, a new relationship can give you that confidence boost to make you want to eat healthy, exercise and just engage in healthier habits and who doesn’t want that?
Hopefully these tips give you a healthy boost to your existing and budding relationships. I’d love to hear your thoughts. How are you going to embrace a little romance this summer? Do you have any favorite healthy dates? I’d love any ideas and I think the community would appreciate them, too! If you do find yourself on a standard dinner-and-a-movie date, don’t despair! You can still eat out and find healthy options.
Better Than Ever
We all strive for wellness and to live better! Every month, this column will bring you advice on how to feel and perform Better Than Ever. Check out tips to improve various aspects of your health: Everything from fitness, nutrition, sleep and recovery. Have a topic you want to hear about? Feel free to reach out here (I’ll be checking the comments!) or on Twitter or Instagram. I look forward to hearing from you!