Every year we see it over and over again – things get quiet in the gym, people cancel personal training or boot camp or stop coming in general because they are ‘too busy’ and ‘outside a lot and active so don’t need the gym’. Guess what? We see them come back every September having gained 5-15 lbs of unhealthy body fat too! Every year.
I do not disagree that summer is busy and that we are outside more, but we also do give things that make us fat in summer.
1) As I said, people stop coming to the gym or working out consistently. Being active outside is a great addition to your regular focused gym session, but it will not replace it. Gardening is great, but it does not replace boot camp, it’s not even close. Softball, golf, paddleboard etc., are all wonderful activities but they do not have the completeness and the intensity of a good workout and that leads to a drop in muscle creation and fat burning.
2) Summer means food that may not serve your goals, and a ton of excuses for eating off plan. Sure, hot dogs, burgers, ice cream and perhaps a beer are all fun to have once in a while, but if you couple that with a reduced gym schedule, it is a one two punch that will have you gain pounds! Summer seems to be a free for all excuse to eat whatever is offered and not worry about it. Potato salad is yummy but that half a plate will pack in more calories than you could ever burn. Barbeques every weekend are great, but if you think of it as a free for all to eat as much as you like, you will have to deal with the added pounds in fall.
3) Alcohol may help you loosen up a little and wine can be good for you, but summer seems synonymous with excessive alcohol and that leads to all sorts of issues. Remember that alcohol is seven calories per gram (protein and carbohydrates are four cal/g and fat is nine cal/g). Alcohol is nearly the same as fat for calories, so that big old glass of beer might as well be a glass of butter. That’s fine once in a while, but if being lean is your goal, several beers a day because ‘it’s summer’ won’t serve you. And the big thing is once you have a few, your food decisions will likely change too – for the worse.
4) Going to bed later because the sun is up so long, and snacking. Those extra few hours of awake time can lead to snacking over and above your regular routine and that too, will pack on the pounds.
5) Eating out more because of so many things – outdoor patio restaurants, to avoid cooking in your over heated home, to meet up with friends after a ball game, etc. In addition to affecting your wallet, all those restaurant meals are designed for taste which always means fat and sugar.
As always, I am not saying you cannot enjoy summer and indulge a little here and there, but when summer becomes an excuse to not take care of yourself through regular good habits like exercise, and eating well, then you will pay for it later.
Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and the owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake.