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How To Stay Motivated To Work Out This Summer

Put down the beer

by Molly Hurford

Summer is in full swing, and thanks to holidays, wedding season, traveling, and lots of pool parties and post-work hangouts at the taco truck, you might be feeling a little less like working out and eating right, and a little more inclined to hop on that ironic pool float with a margarita and just float. That’s 100 percent reasonable, because, hey, it’s summer. But this is where the famed 80:20 ratio comes in: If you can enjoy those extra chips and guac 20 percent of the time, but keep it healthy 80 percent of the time, you’re in good shape both literally and figuratively. So, how to keep that 80 percent going without giving up the fun? We’ve got you covered.

Establish one easy daily health-related morning routine: Start your day the way you’d like it to continue: with a healthy habit. I’m a huge fan of a 10-minute core and yoga session every morning. Waking up and hopping into a series of sun salutations and planks is a great way to wake up, sneak in some flexibility and strength, and to feel like you’re on a healthy path for the day. Even if you only have one minute to do a couple of stretches, making that a daily routine will make you much more likely to make healthier choices throughout the day. 

Enlist your crew: Swap summer poolside hangouts for slightly more active adventures… followed by pool hangouts. Drag your friends along on a hike or bike ride, and follow that up with a swim session. Or go more old-school and look up some water aerobics-style moves, turn on some '90s tunes, and get your friends to do a workout in the pool! If your friends are dead set on a lazy day in the pool, hop into the deep end and tread water for a few minutes to get a short workout in before climbing into the swan pool float.   

Chill the pace: You might be finding that the three-times-a-week run gets a little tougher as it becomes hotter out. But it’s not just you: When temperatures rise, your pace should drop. If you’re training with heart rate, you can use that as an indicator and back off until you’re at your normal endurance run pace (usually around 135 to 150 beats per minute). If you just get out and log miles without recording data, just focus on your perceived exertion and slow down until you feel like you’re going as hard as you were when temperatures were in the 60s. Your body is working a lot harder as it tries to cool you down (studies have shown that optimal running temps are between 67 and 69 degrees outside), so even when you’re going slower, you’ll be burning just as many calories and getting just as fit.  

Be prepared for heat: Here’s your treat yo’ self moment. Temperatures soar, and you can’t handle it because your leggings are getting soaked before you’re at the end of the block? Get to shopping for a summer workout wardrobe. Think light colors (so you reflect the heat), fabrics designed to breathe and cool, and caps that shade your face while you pound the pavement. “Sweat-wicking” and “breathable” are two words to look for. If you’re out for more than 45 minutes hiking or running, consider getting a hand-held water bottle so you can sip as you go.  

Hydrate like crazy: Speaking of drinking on the run, hike, walk, ride, or whatever athletic pursuit floats your boat, hydrate more. CrossFitters are especially susceptible to dehydration as temperatures rise, especially if the workouts are taking you outside to run laps around the gym. You’re sweating buckets, and there isn’t a lot of time to rehydrate during class, but take water breaks as often as you can. If you’re really sweating it out (for example, you’ve been noticing a white crust on your black leggings or shorts post-workout), add an electrolyte tablet like nuun for some essentials like sodium and potassium plus a hint of flavor without the typical sugars found in sports drinks.  

BYOS (bring your own snacks): It’s not just about fitting in the workouts: The hardest part of summer is arguably navigating all the awesome food and much more frequent backyard barbecues and summer happy hours. Heading to a BBQ? Bring a healthy side, like a coleslaw with vinaigrette, not mayo, plus a watermelon for dessert. You can still dig into the junk food, but filling up with healthier options makes it less likely you’ll go overboard on the potato salad. This isn’t about calorie-counting, it’s about choosing healthier, whole, and minimally processed options—not for a bikini body (whatever that is), but for your long-term health.  

Swap beer for kombucha or seltzer: After a glass or two of rosé or beer, start swapping out the booze for a different kind of fizzy drink that’s just as satisfying and a lot more healthy. Let’s be real, that’s the oldest tip in the "summer health" book, but it’s brought up in every article like this for a reason: It’s a damn good idea. For me, the hangover prevention means I’m able to run the next morning and hang out with friends at night. I’m a huge fan of kombucha for the probiotic gut-health benefits and the hoppy taste that almost fools you into believing you’re sipping a summer beer. Yet another trendy drink is the hipster-favorited seltzer waters like LaCroix. Again, the bubbles make you feel less like you’re depriving yourself. (Pro tip: If you’re really feeling the peer pressure to indulge/over-indulge, pour your beverage of choice into a red Solo cup, and no one will know the difference.) 

Forgive and forget: The worst thing we can do when summer gets a little crazy—that week-long vacation where you overdid the margaritas and under-did the daily yoga sessions, the day you spent lounging on a pool float instead of swimming a few laps—is give up on our health goals. We let that downward spiral get out of control, and completely forget how good that weekly CrossFit class felt, how buff we were getting from weight lifting, or the endorphin rush following a run in the park. Enjoy the summer, indulge occasionally, but get back on track as soon as possible.