We are deep into summer as I’m writing this. You should be standing in your “after” picture right now. Are you? Remember in January when you looked forward to summer, with ideas of the smokin’ hot body you’d be bringing to boat parties and beach getaways? OH yes, you were gonna kill it in the gym this year.
Or maybe you’re on that vacation you wanted to get in shape for. The big trip you bought comfortable shoes for, in anticipation of covering miles of meandering European countryside, or walking blocks in the big city. Perhaps your active vacation was carrying golf clubs on your dream course. I hope some of you got to do that.
Ahh, summer. A season of long, lazy days that allow us to enjoy a slower pace of life and refill our soul.
Bahahaha. Don’t worry, you’re in good company if that doesn’t sound like your summer either.
We Are All Busy
One of the biggest perks of my job helping people in the gym is that I interact with a large number of the same people on a very regular basis, and I get to see real trends as they happen.
It is fascinating. We are more alike and in tune with each other than we think. When the seasons change and the weather is beautiful, nearly everyone bounds in the gym with energy and optimism.
Likewise, I see moments when the collective sentiment is a very unenthusiastic “blah.” This was the case recently in Austin, and could have been caused by low grade, often undetectable mold allergies, according to my acupuncturist.
This is why I can say with certainly that if you feel like your summer has gotten away from you, you are not alone.
Summer = Work + Vacation + Kids (even if they are not yours)
Summer is still my favorite time of year (except football season), but it is hard work planning summers. No kidding. If you’re going on vacation, you’ve got to plan with your work and family schedules, book hotels and rental cars and fun things to do. This gets harder, people tell me, when you are packing for kids too.
This isn’t even the regular summer change of plans if you have kids. You’ve also got to find childcare and summer camps.
Even if you don’t have kids and aren’t taking a vacation, your schedule will likely be changed by others who do. If your profession involves regular appointments with people, you already know it’s crazy with reschedules and cancellations. If you are part of a team at work, you might be taking on extra work for the people out of office.
And, if you’re among the lucky ones on a long vacation, you’ve surely got your work cut out for you when you come back in the form of emails and calls to return. It’s sometimes more work to just get back into work.
And so, it is easy to see why our fitness routines fall by the wayside in summer. We are half a year removed from New Year’s Resolutions, where the abundant optimism of others propels you along too. We are past that last pre-summer push, which happens in late March and early April.
There are a couple variations of this one:
“Ahh, Spring Break is coming! I have GOT to get my booty in gear!”
“Ahh, Spring Break is coming! Hahaha, nevermind. Just kidding. I’m too old for Spring Break. I’ve got a few more weeks before I’ve got to get in shape for summer.”
And then summer comes. And now, summer is here and we’ve got tan lines to show it.
But you still have goals for your body even when life is busy. You still want your abs to be a little tighter, and to feel more energetic. So what is a busy person to do?
Simple. Do something now. Anything, but do it now. Do not wait for “the right time” or til life gets a little less busy. It’ll never happen, because as soon as it does, something else gets thrown in your lap.
Healthy, successful people do not wait for the right time.
Pick one thing and commit to doing that one thing. What is that one thing? I don’t know. I’ll give you a list of ideas, but I recommend you take a mental inventory of your strengths. You know yourself and your habits better than anyone else.
Exercise is an extremely nuanced topic we could study forever. There are many-years-long graduate programs of study in exercise, and hundreds of thousands of research studies on exercise. The big things, however, are well understood, and you know which of those you are good at, such as cooking a great healthy chicken salad, or committing to morning yoga classes.
Your activity must be something:
You can do everyday, or with some regularity
You are 95% sure you can maintain
See what we are doing here? We are setting you up to be successful. We are setting you up to win.
Commit to doing this thing for one month. You can continue on if you like, but it’s perfectly fine to quit at one month.
No guilt! No guilt if you miss a day. Just prepare better so you can do it tomorrow.
Give this some thought, then if you choose to commit, give it a real, honest go. It doesn’t matter how small or insignificant the action is. You are making a commitment, making positive change, and establishing a habit.
Why Just One Thing?
People do better at change where there is only one change to focus on. After your month, you can pick a different one or add another. Remember, the smallest healthy change you make is better for you the the best comprehensive health overhaul that you abandon. Reason #2 for just one thing, I always wanted to make a cheesy title like that. “Do this one weird trick!!” Haha!
Stretch for 15 minutes every evening
Attend yoga or Pilates class 3 times a week
Floss your teeth every day
Drink 64 ounces of water every day
Weight train 3 times per week
Get 8 hours of sleep every day
Cook a healthy breakfast every morning
Have 2 boiled eggs every morning for the 12 extra grams of protein
Meditate for 15 minutes every day
Do a challenging sudoku or crossword puzzle every day
Express gratitude every day
Give a genuine compliment every day
Walk around your block every morning
Consume approximately 25/38 grams of fiber per day (female/male, respectively)
One final note. Email me if you need accountability! Email me to tell me your habit! I would love to update this list with healthy habits I haven’t mentioned, and I’m fantastic at nagging, I mean, checking in to see how you are sticking to your plan.
I’m off to meditate, my goal for the next month!