I was spoiled in North Carolina. During my health coach training, it was 75 and sunny most of the week. In addition to my nature walks, my classmates and I were fortunate to be able to practice our coaching outdoors. Sadly, since my return to NYC, the weather has been rather chilly.
In order to persevere with my walking goals, I have been wearing my Namaste hat (see Spiritual Gangster) during my jaunts. Whenever I wear the hat, I inevitably encounter someone who asks, "What does Namaste mean?" To whom I explain, "It means 'the divine light in me honors the divine light in you.'" Then I start thinking about light, warmth, and sunshine despite the cold. Motivated by my sunshine obsession, I decided to write about sun exposure.
SPF is no longer relegated to sunscreen. A plethora of cosmetics, including makeup and moisturizers, offer built-in UV protection. You might be thinking: “The more sunscreen the better. Right?” That depends...
If you have not done so already, you should definitely review the EWG’s resources regarding which sunscreen chemicals to avoid and which products are safe and effective. Unfortunately, every day, well-meaning yet ill-informed people slather or spray toxic sunscreen all over themselves and their families. By sticking to EWG-endorsed products, you can avoid being one of those people.
The truth is, you do not need to be applying sunscreen every day if your daily sun exposure consists of walking outdoors a handful of times in brief intervals. No one gets skin cancer because they were exposed to the sun for a cumulative thirty minutes per day…unless they’re Irish and live near the equator, then maybe. In the vast majority of cases, people get skin cancer because they were once sun worshipers or tanning bed users. After countless sunburns, the pagans develop skin cancer.
There is no need to avoid the sun like a Vampire. Just use your head. If you plan on being out in the sun for an extended period of time, cover up with a hat, sunglasses, light clothing, and/or natural sunscreen. Alternatively, take cover under an umbrella or awning.
In addition to external skin protection, make sure your diet includes lots of antioxidant-rich foods. No, you cannot supplement your way to health by taking lots of vitamins while continuing to eat nutrient-devoid faux foods. Supplements can give you a boost, especially since food isn’t what it used to be, but they cannot salvage the Standard American Diet (“SAD”).
“Here’s another reason to eat your fruits and veggies: You may reduce your risk of vision loss from cataracts” (see Fruits and Vegetables to Fight Cataracts). Cataracts are caused by, among other things, ultraviolet radiation, smoking, significant alcohol consumption, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension…so basically excessive sun/light exposure, poor lifestyle choices, and diseases of affluence.
- Stick to Michael Pollan’s recommendation: "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."
- Don’t smoke or drink in excess (see Tenet #1).
- Wear good quality sunglasses when you are outdoors (see Protect Your Eyes: Everyday Steps to Sun Safety).
Let’s be real. It is totally ridiculous that people cover themselves with toxic SPF products primarily to prevent signs of aging but do not bother to wear sunglasses to prevent vision loss. Personally, I would rather be wrinkly than blind.
By the way, I am in no position to judge anyone for not knowing all of this until now. In a previous life, I was a sun worshiping pagan and GTL-loving Jersey girl.
All we can do now is try our best going forward and repent to the Moon God ;)