Fitness tips: Summer’s the best time to get active, lose weight

The shock and awe of summer shorts weather is upon us.

Shock, because the unforgiving sun magnifies what the long winter has wrought, and aww because you had tirelessly willed a smaller belt size for the past six months.

Fear not! The summer may be the best time to lose weight. But while willing weight loss is a start, it tends to fall short of producing big results.

Why not take this opportunity to parlay the warm summer months into a healthier, more active lifestyle. Here are some tips:

Tip #1: During the winter months we slide into hibernation mode. To brave the cold, we’ve been genetically programmed to ramp up calorie intake in preparation for the Super Bowl.

With the warmth of summer, we naturally eat less and move more. Take this opportunity to tip the scales in your favour by creating a plan. Journaling your calorie intake and energy expenditure often triggers weight loss simply by making you aware of your patterns.

A study of nearly 1,700 participants showed that keeping a food diary can actually double a person’s weight loss.

In the end it’s all numbers. One less dessert here and one extra walk there adds up. Great for the exercise-adverse who aren’t looking to break a sweat.

Tip #2: It’s tough losing weight when your extra winter padding is hidden underneath extra winter padding. Embrace your summer reflection and plan for the future.

If you aren’t happy with your reflection, use frustration to motivate change. Visualize how you would like to look or what you would like to wear and focus on the goal. Post pictures on your fridge and bathroom mirror for inspiration.

Arnold Schwarzenegger used to cut his track pants at knee height because he was frustrated with lagging calf muscles. He didn’t hide behind his weakness — he drew attention to it. Things seemed to work out for him.

Tip #3: I like to drink my calories. Danger! Have a strategy in place for social summer drinking. Once you’ve had one drink, cloudy reasoning tells you to have two. Two drinks tell you that a family-size bag of Mrs. Vicky’s Sea Salt & Vinegar goes well with Chardonnay — which is actually true.

People who consider themselves average wine drinkers consume an excess of 2,000 calories per month, the equivalent of 141 ice creams a year. Alcohol also drops your guard, which can lead to unrestrained eating. Limit alcohol to one night a week.

Also, watch the soda. Sparkling water infused with fruit is a tasty and healthy alternative. Make it daily and have it readily available. Your taste buds will adjust to the light hint of natural sweetness. Hide the soda or buy only when necessary, which is never.

Tip #4: Don’t get trapped by the following: “I take a break from exercise in the summer because I’m very active.”

Quick Reality check: These popular summer pastimes are wonderful but technically may not constitute exercise: Throwing your putter into a pond, meandering your bike along a flat paved path, BBQ monitoring, hammock management, wading, floating, any sport or activity holding a beer.

Sure, we are awake more in the summer and moving around is much less restrictive but don’t fool yourself. Exercise should be planned and purposeful.

Researchers and world-class personal trainers have nudged aside cardio and embraced weight-training as the preferred exercise for weight loss, strength gain and body-shaping. Even if it’s only performed twice a week for 20 minutes, weight training will make you strong and bumpy where you should be. Tag your weight training onto a walk or a bike ride (not downhill).

With doctor approval, a great full-body exercise is a squat immediately followed by an overhead press (all one movement). Lower yourself down into a squat (as far as you can go without leaning forward) and stand up pushing your arms over your head. Hold weight to make this especially effective.

If you don’t have weights, use a bag of sand, a heavy gym bag, a knapsack. Without holding your breath, do three or four sets of 12 with a short rest in between. The last rep should be tough.  

With weight gain, little things add up over time. The good news is that weight loss is the same.

Use this summer as a springboard to establish a healthy lifestyle. If you are frustrated, remember you will feel that same angst next summer unless something changes between now and then.

Reward your future self by starting today.

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