Summer is the season most of us want to look our fittest. It's hot out, and we're baring more skin than usual. Unfortunately, our fitness goals can fall by the wayside come the warmer months -- and worst of all, we may not even see them slipping away. One day, you just wake up and your capris won’t zip and you realize doing a basic sit up is way harder than it used to be. Translation: you've let your healthy eating and regular exercise to go hell, and now, you're going to have to pay the price if you want it back.
And you want it back.
But first, you have to figure out how you're healthy lifestyle was led astray. Figure no further. One (or several) of these reasons is likely the key.
1. The Al Fresco Feasts
Whether you’re chowing down at a BBQ or porking out on a patio, those weekend and after work feasts are going to add up.In fact, you could eat more than a day's worth of calories at a single BBQ. We're talking 3,000 calories from a few hours of eating.
Patios aren't much better. You're sitting around with friends and next thing you know the sun has cooked your brain because you're scarfing back a deep-fried platter. Once in awhile, this overeating is perfectly cool. However, when you're hitting the patio post-work a few times a week and then enjoying BBQ fare on the weekend, it can add up.
The fix: You don't have to become a hermit over the summer to avoid this common pitfall, you just need to plan. First, never go to a BBQ or patio hungry. You don't need to be full, but you should have a healthy snack beforehand so you don't start stuffing your face indiscriminately. Make yourself a delicious smoothie, enjoy some hummus and raw veggies or an apple and some nut butter. You know what they say: the best defence is a good offence!
2. The Booze Belly
Summer hits, and it’s like the world’s auditioning for a beer commercial. Whether it’s at a BBQ or patio, or just chilling on your own deck or dock, we tend to tipple more when the heat is on. Because of the mind-addling effects of alcohol, it is all too easy to forget that booze calories can add up, fast.
In fact, in one night of drinking, you can consume over three times your calorie allotment for a 24 hour period — even if you do stick to lower calorie drinks like light beer, vodka & club soda or wine. All of this doesn’t even include the extra food (and often junk food) you’ll eat when drinking; food that will be stored as fat, since drinking stalls your body’s fat burning engines so it can process the alcohol, which it perceives as a toxin.
So, you’re hit with a double whammy. What to do?
The fix: While any amount of drinking will delay your body’s ability to burn fat, the less you drink, the quicker it will get back to business as usual. So, try your best to drink moderately, and always alternate one alcoholic drink with one glass of water. To be sure hydration remains a ready priority, bring your own water bottle and replenish as needed. This will slow your consumption, and help counter the dehydrating effects of booze. Also, never drink on an empty stomach. Make sure you have one of those healthy snacks prior to imbibing.
3. The Vacay Delay
While most of us work all summer, we can still slip into vacation mindset. In this state, it’s easy to start to let things slide. After all, you work hard: you’ve earned a vacation. And you have...just not 12 weeks of it. There’s a point at which you can’t excuse your mass consumption of ice cream sandwiches, or that skipped workout, and this point is when it’s become the rule rather than the exception.
The Fix: Take an official vacation! Assign yourself some time to actually be on a real vacation: enjoy a little more of the foods you love, and if you want to, take a break from working out in an official sense. Keep stretching, walking and generally living actively, but there’s nothing detrimental about letting your mind and body reset. Just like a week of eating clean and exercising is not going to completely reshape your body, a week of some rest and indulgence is not going to undo all your hard work. (In fact, if you’ve been exercising regularly for a while, a week off working out can actually help you bust through plateaus!)
Word to the wise, though: You don’t need to make a sport of indulgence. Everything has a price, and more importantly than gaining a few pounds from a heroic week of pigging out, you’ll feel like crap. Enjoy, but don’t overdo.
4. The Summer Sleep
It’s a fact: we sleep less in the summer. Between the longer daylight hours, the heat, and — for many — a more vigorous social schedule, sleep can suffer. We don’t have to tell you that lack of sleep as been definitively linked to a host of outcomes that range of inconvenient to downright dangerous. They include weight gain, heart disease, diabetes and cancer. And anyone who’s ever had a sleepless night will tell you it can affect your mood and brain power too.
The Fix: Here are some tips to make sure you get enough sleep this summer:
If you have a late night, make sure you don’t have an early morning — and if this happens anyway, do your best to ensure you tuck in early the following night.
Get to bed at a reasonable time — even if it’s still light out. Buy blackout curtains if you need to, but your sleep is a priority.
Give yourself time to wind down. You may not need to get to bed until after the sun goes down, but between then and when you should be asleep, you may not have given yourself enough time to relax into rest mode. Avoid any extremely stimulating activities (examples: watching high-octane TV or HIIT workouts) right before bed, as these can make falling and staying asleep more difficult.
- Keep it cool. Ideal sleeping temperature is between 60 to 67 degrees Fahrenheit. Try your best to get your room as close to this as possible.
You don’t have to these common summertime slip-ups sabotage your healthy lifestyle. Keep these tips in mind, your eyes on the prize and you’ll enjoy a beautiful, balanced summer.