Finding the motivation to go to the gym during the summer months, when the weather is warmer and the evenings are brighter, can be hard. If you’re reading this and thinking “Yeah, that’s me! I find that tough!” remember it’s basically the same problem faced by many other people all year round and the same kind of concepts apply.
Start small (or in this case keep things small and simple even if that means scaling back a bit). Have ways to monitor consistent behaviour (a wallchart or journal will help you keep track of if you’ve been doing enough lately) you might not think it but you will forget how often you’ve exercised and/or not realise how little you’ve done until you see it in black and white. Create a support network, arrange to workout with a friend and/or stick that wallchart to the fridge and let loved ones know what you’re doing, ask them to remind you about it if they notice you haven’t marked it in a while. Set yourself a target (for example “if I exercise 4 days this week that’s more than half the time”) and once you meet it stop worrying about it. And celebrate successful execution; if you hit your target treat yourself to a new piece of workout gear in the summer sales or do another activity you enjoy (not eating cake) instead of using time to go to the gym.
I’ve said this before but they say the best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago… and the second best time is now. Well the best time to start working on NEXT YEARS summer body happens to be the same. As a trainer I always get asked about getting in shape for summer… in spring… of the same year… I have to tell people it’s too late at that point to safely make anything more than small changes. IF you’re not happy with this years summer bod thinking about next year might encourage you to stay getting a bit done THIS summer.
If it’s less about motivation and more concern about missing workouts because you’re going to be away for two weeks or because the kids are off school and you’re needed at home more, then it might be reassuring to remember most of the changes we want from exercise (and nutrition) are long term and take a long time to achieve. This means that if you look at the entire timeline of creating a fit and healthy body, a week away or a couple of months with slightly fewer workouts won’t really move the average that much.
And finally on motivation: We’ve all experienced the soreness of coming back to exercise after taking some time off. How stairs and the bathroom are not your friends for a week or two after coming back to squats. Remember that feeling… Don’t let that be you in September!
There’s a fair amount of data out there to suggest that training in hot environments can be beneficial in a number of ways and it’s probably not a coincidence that many of the world’s top athletes come from warmer climates. But even for everyday exercisers, there are people that get up and do their bit in climates FAR harsher than ours will ever be on the hottest days we have this year. “But Adam they’re used to it”… this is true… And when they started exercising they weren’t used to it. They got used to it over time, just like you have with your own exercise and just like you would if your climate changed. It being warmer might make things a bit less comfortable, I get that, but it’s not supposed to tickle. If you can make it cooler, do so, no problem. Not exercising because it’s a bit warmer than usual isn’t going to move you closer to your goal though, so weigh up the options before you decide one way or the other.
Having said that, if you’re away in a hotter part of the world that’s a different story. Heat exhaustion is a very real thing. It’s unlikely to be an issue in an air conditioned gym here in Ireland but be careful if you’re lucky enough to head off for a week or two.
Keep hydration in mind too. General recommendations: 3 litres of water a day (one from food, two from fluid) more if you’re exercising and more if it’s warmer weather. This matters. Sweating is one of your body’s ways of cooling itself. If you’re sweating a LOT you might want to consider an electrolyte drink of some kind too in order to replace lost salts. Staying hydrated is a bout the balance between fluids and salts. Not just loads of fluid.
And final tips
Get it done early. Whatever you’re going to do, do it early in the day. The later you leave it the less likely it is to get done. This won’t always be possible with other commitments, I understand that. But if getting up an hour earlier to go to a morning Spin means you still get exercise without pulling the kids away from the beach so you can go to an evening Spin, I think that’s a worthwhile trade off.
Take it outside. If what you plan to do can be done outside, maybe do it outside? Why walk on a treadmill in the gym if you can do it in the sun? Or the reverse meaning if it’s TOO hot remember the air conditioned gym is there if you need it.
And don’t forget about our Summer Sports Camp for the kids, if you want to make sure they stay active during the holidays (ages 4.5-12). Have a great week!