It wasn’t too long ago that I would dread summers in New York City. Rather than look forward to cold drinks on a patio, day trips to Rockaway beach, or long afternoons of reading in the park, I would start masterfully planning an escape route to my home state of Maine. My summer dread didn’t necessarily stem from the city itself, but the way my body would react to the sweltering city heat. As the humidity (and my anxiety) built, I came to an early realization that I feared my body’s natural cooling system.
To put it simply: I hated sweat.
New York City sweat was unlike anything i’d experienced before. It was a thick, salty mix of bodily moisture and city exhaust and grime, coated over my entire body until I could squeeze onto a freeing cold train. There, I met my sweaty peers, all of us gripping our slippery iced-coffee cups and pretending we didn’t look like the Wicked Witch of the West in the final, momentus scene. In the city, you don’t just experience your own sweat, you’re front row to everyone else's daily sweat journey, too. I would long for Maine-- the cool nights, the frigid water, and the privacy of an air conditioned car. I refused to find comradery in the boiling city, and would often come home each night, immediately strip down to my underwear, and stand directly in front the AC with a book until the entire room had cooled down. I didn’t just hate sweat, I was annoyed by it, and did my best to ignore as I waited for my friend, Fall, to show up.
And then, right before my fourth summer on this sweltering island (okay, yes, peninsula), something changed. I decided to make peace with sweat. More than peace, actually. Friends! How did I achieve the impossible, you may ask?
I decided to welcome the sweat.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking (well, maybe not exactly, but I do know you must be indulging in an eye roll at least), but hear me out.
Rather than starting to agonize over all of the gross aspects of sweat,I started to think about all the wonderful things it can do for my body, face, and peace of mind. I decided to approach this summer with a new perspective on sweat (not easy for a gal who would love each day to be a crisp 60) and see if it helped improve my mood and anxiety toward my sticky summer body. I started scouring the internet for articles that would explain why exactly my body was sweating, and the health benefits. Turns out, there are many! I was quick to learn that sweat isn’t just your body cooling itself, but it’s also releasing and disposing of toxins from alcohol, cholesterol, and salt. Sweat also lowers kidney stone risk, and can help prevent the dreaded summer cold. As someone who is prone to many margaritas and summer colds, this insight instantly warmed me up.
Contrary to popular belief, sweat is a miracle ingredient for skin too. While most people produce an excess natural oils in the summer because of the heat, sweat opens your pores and releases the build-up. Allowing your face to sweat is letting it breathe, and is the perfect excuse to maintain a simple summer routine. Aside from some face wipes and refreshing skin mist, I haven’t wasted time putting products on my face that I know will melt off. I’ve been enjoying the simplicity of my non-routine and the calming effects of the few products I do use. My skin, for the most part, has been supple, moist, and blemish-free. Now, when I feel a drip of sweat roll down my nose, I just think “it’s all a part of the routine. And it’s free!” And then, yeah, I’ll dab myself with a soft face wipe. Baby steps.
Rather than avoiding eye contact with every pedestrian in NYC, I’ve made a conscious effort to take notice and appreciate my fellow sweaty sisters (and brothers) in arms. While we all may feel like one big, sweaty mess, we’re in this together. Soon enough, we’ll be layered in cozy coats and high boots, reminiscing about city sunsets at 9pm, and we’ll miss it. So as I lay in the park under a big hat and begin to feel myself sweat, I try my best to be grateful for my hardworking body and all it’s magic, even when it feels like a curse. And if I catch myself in the mirror and look like I just tripped and fell in a puddle, what else is there to do but shake your head and laugh? In the end, is it really worth sweating over?
*~How do you feel about summer sweat? Share in the comments below!~*