Summer is the time of the year when everyones motivational levels increase, spirits are higher and life is generally better. This is without a doubt me – during the winter I get so many days where I just feel low and depressed purely because of the weather and general dullness that the UK has to offer. In the summer this completely fades and I feel more free and positive about life. For me, this makes working out easier. I am much more motivated with everything, and the lighter days mean that I am happy to go to the gym earlier in the morning or later at night. Generally, I go to the gym quite late because there is always too much to do in the day and I hate the mad after work rush. When I go later it is so much quieter, I feel more relaxed and it tires me out ready for bed. I have never been a great sleeper, but I know that working out in the evening has definitely improved my sleeping routine. I also feel so much more positive in myself when I workout in the evening, as I don’t feel lazy just crashing on the sofa for hours and it honestly switches my mind off. I am focused on the workout and music, as opposed to the crap i’m watching on TV or scrolling through on my phone. This is what works for me, however the key thing to remember is that everyone is different and their body is suited to different things.
“My workouts change through the seasons, to suit the temperature and my mood”
A lot of people have said to me that they actually feel their workouts are less productive in the summer, and perhaps they just aren’t working out as much. I completely get this, as it is a much more sociable season where you just want to be hanging out with family and friends making plans to make the most of the weather. Although, I have to get this balance right, as mentally I feel so strange when I don’t go to the gym. I am not a gym addict by any means and do often have days where I simply can’t be bothered to go, but I do notice a difference in my mood when I haven’t worked out for a few days. A big problem with working out in the Summer season is obviously the heat. Last week it was unbelievably hot in the UK, and to be honest I didn’t really know what to do with myself. As a result, it made working out so much harder. I managed to power through, and realised that there were certain things that I need to adapt in order to work out successfully through the heat. We have to be so incredibly careful when the warmer weather comes, as our bodies are just not used to it and it can get to a point where it is quite dangerous if you over expert yourself. With my heart problem, I am even more aware of this, so thought I would offer some advice on how I overcome it. They are small changes that you can make to your workout and your lifestyle, which will overtime transform your energy to exercising in the heat. It isn’t something that happens overnight, as the human body has to get used to things and adapt to the change in lifestyle choices.
This is number one, and to be honest is number one through the whole year. In the summer, it is that little bit more important. Keeping our bodies hydrated is so important for anyone, whether you’re exercising or not. When I’m in the gym, I drink a lot of water in order to power me through. It is sort of a given, and you rarely see someone in the gym without it. With the heat, a difference I noticed straight away was how difficult a workout was for me when I hadn’t drank very much water in the day prior to my workout. I think I had been running around all day trying to get things done and it just completely skipped my mind. I am usually very good at remembering, so it was a bit of an off day for me. I noticed instantly that working out was much harder and I was being drawn to my water bottle much more. Since this happened, I have been so conscious of how much I’m drinking during the day especially if I know i’m going to the gym. I get through a good 2 litres in the day, and definitely don’t struggle as much in the gym when I have actually done this. I think the weather massively contributed to this, so obviously my key point is to stay hydrated not just whilst your exercising but at all hours of the day.
Warming Up & Cooling Down
I can often be quite lazy when I’m at the gym, and forget to warm up my body and cool down afterwards. It is purely because I can’t be bothered and just want to be in and out as quickly as possible. I have had to stop doing this, as it has such an effect on my body in the hours after. In the hot weather, you need to pace yourself and prepare your body before you work out properly. I don’t ever do anything too much, usually just a 10 minute warm up. I am pretty boring and just go on the treadmill, walking at a steady pace for 10 minutes. This is good as it isn’t too much, however it slowly gets my heart rate up and prepares my body for the workout. You could do this with any cardio, just as long as it is gradual and not too much in one go. After my work out, a key thing for me with my heart is to cool down properly. I have to ensure that my breathing is back to regular and my body has cooled down. I always use a mat and start by doing gentle ab and leg exercises to tone up and gradually bring my heart rate down again. I then stretch out my legs, arms and abs which is not only key for my heart rate but also my muscles. I probably do this for about 10 to 20 minutes. I then just sit, usually scrolling through my phone. This completely cools me down and gets everything back to normal. Whenever I skip cooling down, I notice a huge difference in my body.
In the heat, breathing properly is always such an important thing to be conscious of. It is important to make sure that you are breathing in and out at a steady pace, so that oxygen is travelling properly around your body. I have to do this anyway, as my breathing does go funny when I am exercising. Basically, my body struggles to keep up with me, but I am very determined so very rarely give in to the problem. Most people do it naturally whilst actually exercising, however it is then important to take some deep breathes in between parts of your workout. I probably look so stupid walking round the gym breathing heavily, but it is what my body needs.
I notice a huge difference in my workouts when I have been eating junk food. My body hasn’t had the vitamins it needs in order to function properly during a workout, and it turn this massively effects the pace that I can workout at. My body feels heavier, bloated and generally unhealthy which brings my fitness level down. I can never workout for as long when I have eaten food like this, and it always takes me longer to cool down. Clean eating for me isn’t complete cutting out naughty foods, it is having a balance. Eating three proper meals a day with a balance of carbs, protein and vegetables, as well as plenty of fruit through the day. Foods like this don’t make me feel bloated or horrible, therefore making it easier to exercise. I also try not to eat for about an hour before working out, as I can always feel it during afterwards and it makes me feel nauseas. In the summer, my cravings are just simple fresh meals, that don’t make me feel too full. For working out, I can always feel that this is the best diet.
Short But Sweet
During the hot weather, I definitely tried to shorten my workouts, as all I wanted to do was get into a cold shower all day. The great thing about exercise is you can definitely do quick and short workouts, however they have to high energy and high calorie burning in order to have an effect. I still try to stick to my warming up and cooling down process, but do try to shorten the middle part of my workout. In the gym, the thing that gets my heart rate up the most is definitely the stair machine. When I want to do a short workout, I will go on the stair machine at a high speed for a short time. I am so sweaty and gross afterwards, however have always burnt off so many calories and can feel the burn all over my body! Classes such as spinning are also great if you want to be doing high intensity but short workouts. This means that you have more time to yourself but can feel no guilt at all for having an extra hot dog at the BBQ because you have contributed to your metabolism for the day.
Choose Where you Workout Wisely
So many people always say that it is great in the summer to take your workout outside and enjoy the weather, but to be frank I couldn’t think of anything worse. The heat outside would make the workout ten times harder in my view and would probably make me feel extremely sick and light headed. I choose to workout in the gym as it is shaded and there is air con. To be completely honest, it is the one place that I could find last week where I didn’t feel like I was just going to melt on the spot. There is no way on earth I would be going outside in the heat to workout, and I do think if you are you need to be very careful. If you want to make the most of the weather, make sure you are pacing yourself and finding paths and tracks were there is shade. Obviously, remember to stay hydrated, wear a hat and listen to your body.
Listen to Your Body
In the summer, the most important thing to do is listen to your body. Yes you always need to push your boundaries, but sometimes it is okay to say no. In the UK, we aren’t used to extremely high temperatures, so working out is always going to be more of a struggle. Last week I had one workout where I did stop half way through and just went to cool down. My body couldn’t cope with the heat and I was starting to feel really ill. Once I’d cooled down I was absolutely fine, but I’m really glad I stopped when I did. No one wants to be scraping me off the floor after i’ve fainted…can you imagine?! Sometimes it can just be a little bit too much, and ultimately the only way around it is to accept it’s a no and try again tomorrow.
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Photos by Abi Galatia
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