Feeling hot, hot, hot...

Feeling hot, hot, hot...

For all those who equate summer with sloth, here's some news. It's as good a season as any to stay high on fitness, insists Anjali Sa

Feeling hot, hot, hot...

Summer brings forth very distinct emotions. There are those who embrace the season and revel in the sun, the outdoors, the summer heat, the activities they’ve been planning for, and the wardrobe changes they’ve been looking forward to.

Then, there are those who dread all or most of the above and would rather be elsewhere than having to endure the heat, and still others who simply adopt a stoic attitude towards the season.

For the many that dislike the summer heat, staying fit and healthy can prove to be quite a challenge. And if you have spent the months leading up to summer training hard to be in great shape and look good, then you don’t want to go through summer undoing all that hard work - because the heat had you go off track with your workouts and eating habits.

Get a plan

Knowing that the hot months are going to pose a challenge, to stay focused on your regular workouts and eating habits, it makes sense to get yourself a plan. And if you don’t have one yet, it’s time to get working on it now. You want to avoid whining through half the summer, only to realise that the heat has you off-track, right?

While planning your summer routine, the most important thing to keep in mind is that it should be realistic and achievable. It would be self-defeating and frustrating to set an overly strict eating plan or strenuous workout programme. Often, planning on a maintenance programme may be an effective way to stay on track. The underlying factor to keep in mind, for whatever you plan, is that if you do not enjoy the routine you will not stay the distance, especially in these sweaty months.

Ideas to keep you fit It makes perfect sense to look for alternatives to your current routine, something that will help you stay focused. Mixing up indoor and outdoor workouts, setting a goal for you to achieve by the end of summer, planning an active holiday…these are just some of the ways to ensure staying on track through the testing times.

- Plan an active holiday. Going on a summer vacation need not be all about shopping, eating and lazing. There are so many options available, across varied budgets, which allow one to plan a holiday around an activity or sport.

- Plan for an event/activity towards the end of summer and then use the summer months to train for it. Like a marathon, a trek.  This will keep you focused on the goal through the summer months.

- Take up some healthy cooking classes. You will learn healthier recipes and the good eating will help you stay focused with the workouts to complement your healthier diet.

- Enjoy the outdoors. If you have been focusing on training indoors, the summer is a great time to enjoy the outdoors by adding in a couple of runs/walks, bike rides or swimming sessions during the week.

- Try a new activity, sport or workout with a friend/partner/group; it can help you stay committed through summer. Cross-training can also help make the body stronger to complement your regular training or outdoor sport.

If you love the outdoors…

The summer heat can pose challenges to your regular routine, especially if you enjoy training outdoors. For those who find

motivation only in the great outdoors, it’s a good idea to go in for shorter workouts to keep away exhaustion.

A better alternative would be to take your run/ride indoors on the machines. Yes, I know the thought of running or cycling on an indoor machine may not be appealing. But given the intimidating temperatures outside it may be a wise move. In fact, taking it indoors could help shake up your routine in a good way. Nowadays, there are cardio machines with interactive interface, which allows you to record, compete with others in various groups on a worldwide platform.

Of course, you could also look at training with a different cardio activity completely. That gives you the benefit of cross-training, while allowing your body a change from the repetitive movements of your regular run/ride. For instance, the indoor rower provides an excellent upper and lower body workout.

There is a constantly growing variety of workouts being offered - based on dance, water and fusion moves. Teaming up with a friend/s may be a fun way to fitness.

However, be mindful of ‘fun’ classes and workouts that, in an effort to attract more people, may include variety and a little bit of everything - possibly losing out on
effectiveness and safety in terms of injury and stress. So, don’t lose focus. Though you need the fun element in your workout, do remember the actual goals of your
programme: increased strength, toning, endurance, and overall functional fitness, while reducing risks of injury and stress.

And, in case you miss the sun too much, you could always look at alternating your workouts between the outdoors and indoors. Mix your routine to take the
pressure off from training only in the killing heat.

On your plate

Incorporating healthier eating habits during the summer months can be fun. On the flip side, if you’re on a holiday or have family and friends visiting, it is easy for regular habits to go off track and get easily tempted into binges or unhealthy choices in terms of food and drinks.

Given the higher temperatures, you want to be careful about the food you are eating. Foods that are heavy on oil and spices will not sit well in your digestive system making you feel sluggish and uncomfortable. It’s best to avoid sugary drinks that don’t do much beyond offering immediate relief, leaving you thirsty again very soon. Salads, fruits, lightly-cooked vegetables make for ideal eating choices.

That is not to say that one has to go on a fruit and salad diet only and feel deprived. But whether it’s meals at home or eating out, ensuring a good mix of lighter dishes will leave you higher on energy, along with a trimmer mid-section!

Whether you love summer or not, you are going to have to endure it, so it’ll serve you well to remember the essentials: Stay hydrated; not by consuming carbonated drinks and packaged juices. Water is the best for hydration and it keeps your energy levels up. Alternatively, you could add some lemon or mint to your glass of water, or else, sip on some coconut water or watermelon juice. Also, watch out for deceptive signals: often during summer, our body may be feeling dehydrated and we mistake thirst for hunger, resulting in intake of unnecessary calories.

When it comes to summer fitness, there are many options - from trying new
activities to setting new targets and going on a maintenance programme. The final choice, of course, lies with you. So, make it now. Unless you want to reach June,
feeling low on energy and not too happy with your abs!

(The author is fitness and Pilates educator & co-owner, The Zone, Mind & Body Studio, Bengaluru)

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