Monday, July 27, 2015

Staying Healthy And Safe In Cottage Country

Today's post is being written from my cottage dock in northern Ontario. 

I talk about my family cottage ('Rock, Bought'em') a lot on the blog. It's a regular feature in the Friday Wine-Down and dominates my summertime Instagram feed. There's no denying that it's my happy place, and I love being up here and spending time with my family.

But, as with anything, cottaging is not all fun and games. Excessive landscaping aside, there are things you need to keep in mind to stay safe and healthy while you're spending time in cottage country.

"But Laura! If you're outside in the sun all day being active, that's healthy!", you bet it is! But that doesn't mean that other unhealthy or dangerous things aren't lurking. Here are my tips to staying healthy, safe and happy at the cottage!

Number one: Alcohol.

The cottage life is synonymous with alcoholism. You just tend to drink more in cottage country. Whether you have a weekend property, or rent for a week or two each summer; beer, wine and "docktails" are a big part of the lifestyle. I'm always shocked on Sunday night at the weekend-beer-gut I develop, and pay for it all week long with negative body image. 

It's tempting to treat cottaging like you would an all inclusive vacation, but alcohol is a health and safety risk. Drink in moderation to keep yourself alert, and your calorie count down (your body will thank you)! And be sure to never drink if you're partaking in water sports. Always remember : water on the water, beer on the pier!

Number two: snacking and meals.

Just as it's easy to drink more in cottage country, it's also easy to eat more! Not only will you find yourself snacking all day, but your meal and snack choices are generally not as healthy. 

Big greasy breakfasts, lots of barbecue, chips and dip all day for snacks... And not a whole lot of veggies. I'm definitely guilty of all of the above, and it took quite a while to stop this unhealthy trend that, again, left me feeling guilty all week long.

My advice? Have a burger at lunch! But try and barbecue fish and chicken as well as burgers and steaks. Also have grilled veggies (zucchini, peppers) , salads. Have yogurt for breakfast, and snack on carrots and hummus, or don't snack at all if you're not really hungry. Your waistline will thank you!

Number three: sun protection

This should go without saying, but it doesn't. PROTECT YOUR SKIN! While I write this post, I have my SPF 50 on, my sun hat, sun glasses, bathing suit cover (with shoulders covered) and I'm under the umbrella. Seem excessive? When you're outside all day, and in and out of the water, you really don't need to lie out to tan. You'll be getting plenty of sun on your skin, so don't push the envelope. Keep your skin looking beautiful and young and avoid sun damage.

Number four: knowing your property

This tip can take many forms! Where does your water get too deep to wade and are there any rocks? Have you checked the property for any fissures or cliffs you need to be concerned with? Where is the safest place to start a campfire? Keeping these things in mind will ensure your accident rate is low, and your fun rate is high!

Number five: respecting wildlife.

Deer, bears, moose, porcupines, snapping turtles, painted turtles, rattle snakes, herons, woodpeckers, grouse, chipmunks, wolves, raccoon, beavers... These are all animals that we have encountered (either directly or seen evidence of) on our property. 

Most wild animals have no interest in being near you, but while you're up at the lake, you should remember that it was their home first, and you need to respect them. Don't leave food outside, don't disrupt endangered species, respect the animal's boundaries and habitat, and make sure you know how to handle any possible injuries (bites, quills and poisons). 

Be aware and respect nature when you're out in it!

Number six: hydrate.

I incredibly guilty of forgetting this one! You're out all day having fun in the sun, and before too long it's dinner time and you haven't had a drop of water.

It's easy to get dehydrated and fall into the dangers of sun stroke in cottage country. I always try to drink a big glass of water with breakfast and then keep a water bottle with me all day. Otherwise by dinner time, you won't be feeling so great, and you'll miss out on the night time fun!

Follow these six steps, remember to have plenty of fun, and by the end of your time at the cottage you'll have nothing but fabulous memories!