Tell me this isn’t one of the most ironic scenarios possible in the fitness realm. Once you feel summer approaching, you work your ass off to remove that comfortable blanket of buttery body fat you put on over the winter. You clean up your diet, hit those dreaded extra cardio sessions, and re-dedicate yourself to consistent, maximum-energy workouts. By the time beach season arrives, you’re ready to unveil your lean, mean, physiques to the world. Your body is ready for summer! But why is it that once summer arrives, your willpower goes on vacation too?
For most of us, no sooner has the sand gotten between our toes than all our training and attention to good nutrition take a backseat to partying, concerts, barbecues, theme parks, and bonfires. Alcohol flows like water as chicken breasts and sweet potatoes give way to hot dogs, chips, and ice cream. Instead of working out, we veg out. And cardio? Ha! As if you’re going to be pumping up your heart rate when it’s 90 degrees out!
So, there you are as Labor Day approaches. Those sharp cuts you busted your butt to reveal have once again gotten buried under a blanket of body fat. With a sigh and a parting glance at the row of closed-up lifeguard stands, you know it’s time to get back to the grind, back to looking your best again.
When I'm not ready to say goodbye to summer, I ramp up my outdoor fitness to help ease the transition," says Cellucor athlete Jen Jewell. "Take advantage of the fact that it's still light out after work, and make outdoor workout dates with friends to keep the social elements of summer going."
It’s never an easy transition from the freedom of summer to the boundaries of fall. But if you want to look your best again, this is the time for setting priorities—no slacking off. The sooner you put that dedication of yours back in gear, the sooner you’ll start seeing glimpses of that physique you had a few short months ago.
Get on a plan," recommends IFBB pro and Cellucor sponsored athlete Craig Capurso. "A good plan will walk you through what you need to do daily. When you're left to do the thinking yourself, temptations begin battling for your time."
Waking up earlier to train can also help you schedule your commitments.
"I often claim I don't have to do to everything I'm supposed to," admits Capurso. "But if I get up and start before my usual day begins, I can cross one more thing off my list before temptation leads me astray."
Whether you’ve been staying up all night playing World of Warcraft with your buddies, watching the boardwalk lights go off, or closing down your favorite watering holes, it’s time to rein it all in. As you probably know only too well, late nights and lack of sleep are detrimental to a lean, muscular body.
Fatigue itself can cause the release of excess cortisol, also known as the stress or fight-or-flight hormone. Cortisol gave our ancient ancestors the sudden energy they needed to avoid hungry saber-toothed tigers, but all that hormone flooding into your bloodstream can also lead to muscle loss and fat gain. If you’re trying to get back in shape, that’s the last thing you want happening.
In hotter weather, most of us don’t have the best appetites to begin with. When we do get hungry, we’re often away from home and looking for whatever is tastiest and most convenient. That usually means fast foods, fried foods, sugary foods, and adult beverages.
As you may have noticed—or tried not to notice—very few of the foods you can buy at beachside stands or amusement parks are conducive to building ripped, muscular bodies. Now that those enticements are gone, it’s time to take back control of your diet and stock up on fresh poultry, lean red meats, eggs, fish, rice, potatoes, sweet potatoes, oats, and vegetables. And with your pantry and fridge full of good food, let meal prepping begin again!
Stock your refrigerator with clean meals you can take to work, school, or anywhere else with little daily effort. With some good planning and preparation, you’re starting out on the right foot on your road to ripped-dom.
Now that you’re back into your normal routine, you can also get back to consistently taking your vitamins, minerals, creatine, fish oil, protein shakes, and everything else that contributes to looking good and feeling better.
As much fun as summer can be, there’s a lot to be said for getting back into a groove again, if that groove includes plenty of rest, good food, and dedicated workouts. The seasons are changing and it’s time for us to change too—to change into our workout clothes and hit the gym.