workout tips

Doing Battle with Summer Heat

I am not made for the heat. I know this.

I don't glow; I wilt. I don't tan; I burn. I don't enjoy lazy afternoons while the sun bestows its radiant heat upon me; I park myself in front of a fan and wait for the sun to set.

You get the picture. 

Everything healthy just seems harder when it's hot out--cooking, exercising, sleeping--so, I'm always on the look out for ways to make it easier to stick to the things I know are good for me.

Here are a few I thought might help you too. 

 
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Sleep

If you aren't blessed with air conditioning, here are a few of my favorite ways to sleep despite the heat. 

Pick the right fabric for bedding and pajamas. Cotton and silk are good choices and stay relatively cool.

Ice packs. Some people swear by icing your neck and wrists, which I'm sure works. I tend to just go to sleep with an ice pack (wrapped in a towel) laying across my chest or under my back. (When I say ice packs, I'm talking about those reusable gel ones not ice cubes in a bag.) 

Take a cool shower before bed. I have done this when I've been desperate to cool off. And it does work.

Run a fan in your room and lie still in its path. Tossing and turning won't help you stay cool. If you can lie still on your bed, in the path of a fan, with your little ice pack on, you have a shot at getting comfortable enough to fall asleep.

 
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Food

The last thing I want to do when it's already hot in my house is turn on the oven to cook. So, here are a few of my favorite recipes and hacks for sticking to my healthy eating habits.

Smoothies are your friend. I eat smoothies for dinner on days when I just can't face cooking. And if I load them up with veggies (fresh spinach is a good one), some healthy proteins and fats (peanut butter, avocado, protein powder, even canned white beans), fruit and milk, I've got a fairly nutritious meal for myself. No oven or stove required. I might have a little toast or something too, just for some variety of texture.

Buy things you would normally have to cook, already made. You can get rotisserie chickens at the grocery store. Toss that on top of a salad and you've got a meal. I'm sure the deli at your grocery store has other protein options too. Is it the most cost-effective way to eat? Probably not long-term. But it's a decent short-term solution on especially hot summer days. I don't eat meat, so I tend to throw beans or crunchy edamame on salads for protein. I'm not big on the faux meats, but there are versions of those in some grocery stores that would be good salad toppers or fillings for wraps.

BBQ. Cook outside. If you can stand to be out there, hovering over a grill, you can cook without heating up the house. And if you want something besides the typical burger/chicken/hot dog fare, check out these pizzas you can grill using ingredients from Trader Joe's!

Avocado toast. This is one of my favorite things. I toast some sourdough bread in the toaster. Slather it with some mashed avocado and then...Well, the toppings vary. But I will usually get some protein on it. The pre-roasted crispy chickpeas and edamame you can get at the grocery stare are two options that don't require any cooking. If you're a meat-eater, leftover chicken might be a good choice.  I'll toss some herbs and spices on there--salt, red pepper flakes, maybe some Everything But the Bagel seasoning from Trader Joe's, or some fresh basil. One of my favorite combos is avocado, fresh tomato slices, salt, pepper, fresh basil and some reduced balsamic vinegar. Maybe a little tempeh bacon on top if I've got some. So good.

Pasta salads. If you can stand to have the stove on long enough to cook some pasta, or if you can plan ahead and cook some on a cooler day, this summer pasta salad is delicious and really easy. One I love that requires no cooking at all, is this White Bean Caprese Salad. And this Black Bean, Corn and Avocado version is really good with some healthy tortilla chips or wrapped in a tortilla (which you can warm in the microwave).

 
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Exercise

Oh the misery that is doing something you know will make you hotter when it's already blazingly hot in outside and/or inside your house/apartment. Yes, I'm talking about exercise. So, how do we stick to our commitment to move our bodies when we're already fighting hard to stay cool? Here are a few ways I switch things up with my workouts when summer hits. 

I change the kind of exercise I do. I add things like swimming into my workout rotation. There are aquatic fitness classes, but just swimming laps is a great workout. I'll do things like gentle yoga too that are a little less taxing and a bit more relaxing.

Location, location, location. My house now has air conditioning, but when it didn't, I would join gyms that were air conditioned, just for the summer. I'd go for my walks near the water where it was sometimes a few degrees cooler, or in parks where there were trails with tons of shade.

Timing is important. In the summer I have to exercise in the morning before it gets too hot. Afternoon or evening workouts when I've just spent the day fighting the heat are impossible for me. So morning it is. Fans running. Windows open to let in some cool air. 

Wardrobe is key. I'm normally not one for wearing shorts and tank tops when I work out in public places, but I'm also not a huge fan of heat stroke. So, I bare my arms and legs in the summer, even though I don't want to. It maximizes the opportunities for evaporative cooling, and that's worth the tiny little bit of self-consciousness I feel. 

Feel free to share your favorite ways to stick to your healthy activities when it's blazing hot outside in the comments below. Take care, friends and stay cool!

Secrets to Making Midday Workouts Work

When I was working my full-time office job, I had good intentions when it came to exercise. Each night I would set my alarm for 5am, which would give me plenty of time to fit in a workout. And then my alarm would go off at 5am and I'd think, "I will feel much more like exercising after work than I do now." Snooze button hit.

But the thing was that I never felt like working out after work. I was exhausted by the time I got home. So, I'd give myself a pass--skipping one day won't hurt--and make big plans to go to bed early that night. That way, when my alarm went off at 5am the following day, I would bounce out of bed and into my workout clothes. 

And....that never happened. What I ultimately ended up doing was fitting my exercise in during my breaks at work. But that provided its own set of challenges--namely how to get myself looking, smelling and feeling presentable for the part of my work day that took place after my workout. 

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One part of the solution was to have the right products available to me at work. I kept a pair of workout shoes and a set of workout clothes in my office, so that I didn't have to remember to bring them with me in the morning when I was rushing out of the house to get to work. I also kept a bag with some post-workout refresh essentials, including:

Deodorant Wipes. I love these ones from Pacifica, but I'm sure other brands sell them too. 

Dry Shampoo. This was a lifesaver when I had a more intense workout and my hair ended up a little sweaty or windblown or whatever. Dry shampoos just soak up that moisture at the roots of your hair, and refresh the scent a bit. My favorite is this one from DryBar, but it's expensive. I also really like Batiste brand, and Hask makes a good one. Both of those are a little less expensive. 

A Washcloth, Hand Towel, and Travel-Size Body Spray. This is basically a makeshift bath kit. 

Travel-Size Facial Spray. I love this one from Mario Badescu. It's inexpensive and it smells like one of those high-end day spas. I'd just spray a little mist of this on my face to refresh my makeup after a workout. It was rare that I exercised hard enough that I had to reapply my makeup. But a little of this was so refreshing and kept my skin looking hydrated and alive. 

Travel-Size Powder and Blush. If my face was looking a little worse for wear after a workout, I found that all I needed was a little pressed powder and some blush to look like myself again. I would buy the travel-size versions and keep them in my bag. 

Make--Up Removing Wipes. I love these ones from Aveeno. These were great if I needed a bit more of a refresh than a mist of facial spray could give me.

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The second part of the solution was how I went about my midday workouts.

Let's say I wanted to get 30-minutes of exercise in each day. And let's say I couldn't, or didn't want, to do that all in one session. I would do 10-minute walks, three times a day--one during my morning break, one during my lunch break, and one during my afternoon break. There isn't a rule that you have to get all of your exercise in one long workout. Break it up as much as you need to, either for logistical reasons or because that's all you can take at one time.

On days when the weather prevented walks from being feasible, or on days when I just wanted to do something different, my phone was my friend. I was lucky enough to have my own private office with a door, so I could close it and do some YouTube yoga, or strength training exercise in there. I kept some resistance bands, a yoga mat and some weights in my office for that reason. If you don't have your own office, maybe there are other solutions. Are you allowed to reserve meeting rooms over the noon hour where you work? Could you do that once or twice a week?

Are there other people in your office who would like to work out with you? There are personal trainers who will come to you and lead a session. If you got a couple of friends together you could split the cost and have a workout with a trainer, without having to spend any of your limited break time driving to a gym. 

I hope some of these tips are helpful to you as you try to fit exercise into your day! If any of you have found things that work particularly well in making midday exercise work, please share below.