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Beat the Heat

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No one in Boston – or, most likely, the whole of New England – needs to be reminded of the fact that it’s been hot for much of the past several weeks. And, while a heat wave is, technically, three consecutive days of 90-plus temperatures, it has most certainly felt hot enough.

It’s a bit of a good news, bad news joke.

The good news is that heavy meals are just not in the cards. Salads, fruit, crudités and grilled meats appeal. Heavy sauces and carbs, e. g. comfort food, generally does not. It’s fairly easy to get in the drinking of eight 8-ounce glasses of water. You find you crave it.

But the bad news is that torpor also sets in. You just don’t want to move. And it’s often a hazard to really move, at certain times of the day. A lunchtime walk is all but impossible. Complicating matters is the fact that ice cream really appeals, as does eating out at a restaurant, where hidden fat, salt and sugar all lurk. And what about drinking those eight 8-ounce glasses of water? They very likely aren’t enough to prevent dehydration and replenish what’s been lost to perspiration and just plain exhaling.

A Compromise or Two

The usual formulas apply –

  • You need to get aerobic exercise of some sort
  • You need to strength train
  • Drink water!
  • Eat a balanced diet and practice portion control
  • Watch the salt intake

Solutions – Aerobic Exercise

One way to get in aerobic exercise is to get it done either very early in the morning or late in the afternoon. 6:15 AM – no lie! – turned out to be a good time for a walk recently. Always use sunscreen, always talk water with you and, for direct sunlight exposure, always wear a hat.

Another way to get exercise is to join a gym. This means you have to actually use the gym membership, of course.

A third solution is to embrace the aerobic activities that match the season. That means swimming, but also triathlons (if you’re so inclined), water skiing and surfing and windsurfing.

Solutions – Strength Training

There really are only two good ways to tackle this particular issue –

  1. Strength train at a gym or,
  2. Strength train in the very early morning, or late in the evening

Solutions – Water Drinking

By bringing water with you wherever you go, you’re a lot more likely to actually drink it. Or, at least you’ll have a fighting chance of doing so. And that means every excursion, whether it’s a walk for exercise or your commute to the office.

Solutions – Balanced Diet with Portion Control

As always, the easiest way to do this is to eat at home. And it can be tough to cook and heat up the house. So don’t!

Instead, try barbecuing far more than you need on the weekends. And not just meats – grill peppers, onions, tomatoes and even pineapple. Parse out your portions into labeled plastic containers or bags, and freeze anything you aren’t going to use immediately. Then just take out whatever you need and heat it up.

Dinner suddenly gets a lot easier, when all you need to do is take out prewashed salad from a bag, add your grilled meats and vegetables and then top with some dressing. Even better – particularly if you thaw the meat in the refrigerator overnight, or nuke it in the microwave – you won’t heat up your kitchen.

Solutions – Salt Reduction

Barbecuing does not have to mean heavy, salty sauces. Instead, you can marinate in fruit juice, and add garlic powder or powdered ginger to the meat as it cooks. Or add Mrs. Dash, which is salt-free and can be purchased at any Star Market.

Oh, and there’s more good news. This heat won’t last forever. One day, I assure you, it will snow again in Boston.

Stay cool.

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