I am from a small town in the hottest part of Georgia, and in the South we have many traditions made necessary by the weather. One of them is getting out of town for the month of August to escape the heat and humidity. My family used to go to the Georgia Coast, but now they come to visit me in California. My mom especially loves it and calls her time in San Francisco her “Health-cation.” I don’t know if the title comes from what walking all these hills does for her cardio or her sanity, but the sentiment is fantastic. It also reminds me of The Great Gatsby:
“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”
Too many of my clients see the summer as a goal or a distraction from their health and fitness journey, when in reality the summer is 25% of your life. If you stop working on your habits during the summer, you’ll likely be sliding backwards instead of moving ahead. So here are some simple strategies to keep going through the summer months.
1. Prioritize protein When you see the barbecue spread out, you don’t have to panic and run for the (usually nonexistent) salad bar. Just use this tip from every bodybuilder since Samson: prioritize eating protein over anything else. That meat on the grill will fill you up faster than anything else, and probably with less of a calorie hit than all those side items, too. So grab 2 to 3 hamburger patties and skip the buns before you head onto the other options.
2. Use the weather as an excuse Many people use the weather as an excuse not to do things, like exercise, rather than as an excuse to do fun, active things outdoors. Instead of saying, “It’s too nice to be stuck in the gym,” and lounging around, throw your kids in a pool and play with them. Challenge your friends to a volleyball or badminton tournament. Play tag!
3. Take a healthy trip Instead of seeing vacations as an excuse to eat cheesecake every day, make your summer getaway an experiment to see how well you can stick to your health habits. Walk to places you would normally drive and make the most of your food options. Many of the food decisions you make on vacation will be out of convenience rather than indulgence, so see if you can enjoy a healthy breakfast, lunch, and dinner before you enjoy that slice of cheesecake.
4. Water, water everywhere! When the temperature goes up, it’s obvious that we sweat more. And with more sweat, our need for water goes up. So keep a bottle handy and top it off regularly. Staying hydrated will also help you from overindulging in beer and sodas in the backyard.
5. Make summer endless The biggest mistake I see during summertime is that people see the season as an end goal instead of landmark for their health and fitness journey. They starve themselves or kill themselves at the gym in the months leading up to summer to get “bikini ready,” and then they’re so burnt out that they yoyo right back to their unhealthy habits as soon as the weather changes. But life is 25% summers, which means next summer is merely months away. Instead of punishing yourself to get into a certain swimsuit, remember that every body is a bikini body and the sustainable progress you make this summer will show up next summer, too.
Do you go on “health-cations”? How do you stick to your healthy habits during the summer months? Share in the comments below!