5 ex­cuses keep­ing you from a healthy sum­mer

The Hamilton Spectator - - HEALTH - WES­LEY YIIN Wash­ing­ton Post

Sum­mer is here, and with it comes so many pos­si­bil­i­ties for out­door ac­tiv­i­ties. But the sea­son also brings sun, heat, in­sects, dis­rupted child-care rou­tines and other headaches.

It’s no won­der, then, that one might ac­tu­ally feel less in­clined to ex­er­cise, eat well or main­tain an oth­er­wise healthy life­style over the sum­mer months. Ex­perts say, how­ever, that view­ing sum­mer as a re­spite from well­ness could have last­ing ef­fects on your over­all health. We asked Angela Lemond, a reg­is­tered di­eti­tian nutri­tion­ist and pres­i­dent of the Texas Academy of Di­etet­ics and Nu­tri­tion, and Colleen Palo­maa, the fit­ness man­ager at Vida Metropole in Wash­ing­ton, for the most com­mon ex­cuses that they get from pa­tients and trainees — and how they re­spond.

“I’m on va­ca­tion”

When the weather is nice and the kids are home from school, peo­ple tend to want to take some time off, travel some­place new and let loose a lit­tle. But ac­cord­ing to Lemond, some peo­ple take it too far.

“A lot of peo­ple want to overindulge,” Lemond says. “They want to drink, and they want to eat — they want to have no cares what­so­ever.”

You can tell a lot about some­one’s life­style by ob­serv­ing their va­ca­tion habits, Lemond adds. Some­one who eats healthy and ex­er­cises while they’re trav­el­ling prob­a­bly has pos­i­tive well­ness habits at home, too.

There are plenty of ways to stay ac­tive on va­ca­tion with­out feel­ing like you’re do­ing work. Palo­maa sug­gests hik­ing or beach vol­ley­ball.

“I’ve got my beach bod, now it’s time to en­joy my­self”

Palo­maa has trained many peo­ple who say that their goal is to get fit for the sum­mer so that they might show off their flat stom­achs and chis­eled arms at the beach. But once sum­mer ar­rives, they re­vert to their orig­i­nal habits.

“Ex­er­cise is not all about van­ity,” she says.

Plus, if you al­low your­self to regress to a lower level of fit­ness, it’s more work to re­gain your beach body once the next sum­mer sea­son rolls around.

“It’s too hot out­side”

It’s the clas­sic sum­mer ex­cuse, es­pe­cially if your house or apart­ment has air con­di­tion­ing. And it’s cer­tainly true that you’ll need to stay extra cau­tious about hy­dra­tion, body tem­per­a­ture, fa­tigue, sun­burn and the like when ex­er­cis­ing in the heat.

For those who might want to avoid these hassles, Palo­maa has two ways to cir­cum­vent the heat: swim­ming and morn­ing ex­er­cise.

Plenty of pools, even out­door ones, have lap lanes. If you don’t know how to swim, Palo­maa sug­gests learn­ing with a trainer or coach. Al­ter­na­tively, some gyms have “end­less pools,” in which you swim against a cur­rent — like a tread­mill, but for swim­ming.

As for morn­ing ex­er­cise, Palo­maa doesn’t be­lieve that the extra hours of sun­light should go to waste. The rel­a­tive cool­ness of those early hours isn’t the only rea­son to ex­er­cise in the early morn­ing: Stud­ies show that kick­ing off the day with a work­out boosts your me­tab­o­lism.

Palo­maa of­fers this ad­vice for get­ting your­self out of bed: Go to sleep early. Set mul­ti­ple alarms far away from your bed — so you’ll have to phys­i­cally get up to shut them off. To stream­line the process, pack your bag be­fore you turn in. She says it takes just two weeks be­fore the ear­lier wake-up and work­out start to feel nat­u­ral and ha­bit­ual.

“Work­ing out in­ter­feres with happy hour”

Palo­maa says she’s been shocked by the num­ber of peo­ple who com­plain that their work­out reg­i­men im­pedes their so­cial life in the sum­mer. The logic fol­lows that bet­ter weather brings more peo­ple to bars and restau­rants af­ter work ends. And, with some jobs, work lets out early on Fri­days, leav­ing the af­ter­noon for mer­ri­ment.

A lit­tle extra food and drink can’t hurt, Palo­maa says, but she ad­vises her trainees to bring their friends, fam­ily and co-work­ers to the gym, not the bars. Even do­ing this just one out of ev­ery three happy hours, Palo­maa says, could make a no­tice­able dif­fer­ence.

“The kids are home from school”

“Not enough time” is a year­round ex­cuse, but it at­tacks most vig­or­ously through the sum­mer, Lemond says. Sum­mer va­ca­tion can throw care­fully planned child­care sched­ules out the win­dow, and it can be dif­fi­cult to main­tain your own good habits when you’re try­ing to keep your kids in line.

As for the kids them­selves, Lemond says chil­dren whose par­ents don’t en­cour­age them to par­tic­i­pate in more phys­i­cal ac­tiv­i­ties of­ten turn to screens: Net­flix, tele­vi­sion, YouTube, cell­phones, video games. With reg­u­lar sports teams and ac­tiv­i­ties on hia­tus for the sum­mer, that can lead to lots of sit­ting around.

Lemond sug­gests hav­ing a prac­ti­cal plan for both you and your chil­dren. Get your kids mov­ing by sign­ing them up for sum­mer sports or camps that in­volve phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity. Most cities have low-cost op­tions through churches, YMCAs and other com­mu­nity or­ga­ni­za­tions. And get­ting the kids out of the house may give you some breath­ing room to fit in your daily work­out.

Even bet­ter, Lemond says, is to be ac­tive as a fam­ily. Night swim­ming is some­thing that Lemond and her chil­dren en­joy to­gether (and also a good way to beat the heat). Geo­caching, an ac­tiv­ity that in­volves us­ing GPS to un­earth caches all over the world, has also been a hit with Lemond’s clients. Its con­tem­po­rary it­er­a­tion — the newly pop­u­lar Poke­mon Go — is even a worth­while al­ter­na­tive for get­ting the kids to spend some time out­side.

Lemond be­lieves that if you in­stil good habits in both your­self and your chil­dren, you’ll have fewer wor­ries next sum­mer.

“If you want your kids to be healthy, you have to be liv­ing it your­selves.”


Get­ting the kids out of the house is good for them and lets you get your work­out in as well.

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