For my July 4 article about summertime fitness, Humidex? More Like Ice-Creamidex! either click here or keep reading.
Ah, summer. Cocktails on the patio, barbecues at the cottage, and finally perfecting that golden tan. What’s not to love?
Well, if you’re like me, summer can present its own unique set of diet and exercise dilemmas. Your number of social obligations seems to rise with the thermometer’s mercury, and by August your plans for the perfect bikini body have disappeared faster than Great Aunt Edna’s potato salad. Not only that, but best-laid fitness plans disappear when our old friend, the humidex, creeps higher and higher — if it ‘feels like 35 C’, the only thing I ‘feel like’ is sitting in front of the fan and eating ice cream.
This is not the optimal fitness plan.
But don’t sweat it just yet! With a little bit of planning, dedication and determination, making healthy choices throughout the summer can be as breezy as a sail on Lake Ontario. Just keep in mind the following tips, and you’ll be handling the summer heat like a pro!
Hydrate: While keeping hydrated is important during any season, it becomes crucial during the steamy summer months. As the temperature rises, we sweat — and as we sweat, we dehydrate at a faster rate than normal. This means we have to drink even more water than usual to keep our bodies functioning in peak form.
With the proper amount of hydration, you’ll feel more energized, less hungry and your workouts will be stronger. Not only that, but with consistent hydration you’ll see tremendous benefits in your skin, hair and nails. And the best news? A big glass of ice water will do wonders to keep you cool on even the hottest days. Bottoms up!
Change your routine: July and August can be painfully hot in this part of the world. Though I far prefer the sticky-sweet humidity of midsummer to the frigid temperatures of January, high temperatures make their own set of problems. Namely, the strain of outdoor fitness can seem unbearable in humid, hot, sunny days of summer. A hilly run is challenging enough; make it 32 C and it will make even the most seasoned runner shudder.
The heat can present more serious problems than just a more-challenging-than-normal run. Real, severe medical problems like heat stroke and heat prostration can pose a threat during the summer. Your best bet? Change your routine! Take advantage of the long days and enjoy the beauty of an early morning or late-evening run. By flipping your schedule around, you can enjoy all of the benefits of outdoor activity without baking in the heat. And when all else fails, hop into the lake for an immediate post-workout cool-off!
Back off the booze: The barbecues, cocktails parties and patios of summer are a fantastic seasonal pleasure. These enjoyable social outings are also potential diet minefields, with cocktails, beer and wine aplenty. And while you may remember to avoid the potato chips at the family reunion, a few too many glasses of Chardonnay can present a similar caloric threat.
Indulge in alcohol occasionally. Take your time sipping on one drink, not five, and remember to drink water as well. You’ll not only avoid the empty calories from alcohol, but you’ll feel better, fitter and healthier tomorrow.
If everyone seems to be drinking and you don’t want to stick out like a sore thumb, try drinking club soda with lime from a short glass. No one will be able to tell the difference!
Get outside!: The warm temperatures open up options for even the most ‘winterized’ Canadian. Hiking, biking, canoeing, tennis and golf — we all know that these are fun, active ways to get outside, enjoy the summer air and burn a few calories.
But don’t limit yourself! Even if your summer fun doesn’t actively burn copious amounts of calories, it’ll still do your body a world of good. Activities like gardening, mowing the lawn, or even just a leisurely stroll will keep you outside and, all importantly, away from the fridge. You’ll snack less without even knowing it!
Moderation: This tried-and-true principle holds even more weight during the summer months. With more frequent social obligations and seasonal treats like barbecue, ice cream, and potato salad it can be easy to overindulge in one too many cheeseburgers.
But you don’t have to deprive yourself of your favourite summer treats! By treating yourself occasionally, you’ll satisfy your cravings and keep your waistline in check. Remember to keep your portion sizes reasonable and fill half of your plate with leafy greens.
And once in a while, go ahead and have the ice cream sandwich … summer is only so long!
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