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7 Tips For A Fit Summer Body

7 Tips For A Fit Summer Body

Summer is a time for fun and sun… for vacations, barbecues, parties, and drinking. While you should relish these activities during this time of the year, it is often difficult to maintain a fit body during these months and it is important to make sure that your health doesn’t suffer along the way.

You can have fun as well as take care of yourself this summer. If you are able to keep your body fit, healthy, and happy throughout the summer months, you will build the habits to keep it going onto the next summer as well. Here are seven tips for building and maintaining a fit summer body.

1. Eat right

Your diet should consist of lots of fruits and vegetables. According to The Harvard School of Public Health you should be eating nine servings of fruits and vegetables per day, equivalent to two cups of fruit and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day. That is a minimum estimation so you should be able to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want.

You also need to focus on eating the right amount of protein, fats, and good carbohydrates. Good carbohydrates include quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat, rye, and barley. Bad carbohydrates are found in refined white bread and processed foods like French fries. The amount you need to consume depends on how active you are, your height and weight, your age, your gender, etc.

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A general guideline is to stay away from fast foods which are loaded with Trans fats and added sugars. Substitute hamburgers and hotdogs with turkey burgers and turkey dogs. Try grilling salmon and shrimp instead of bratwursts. Eat grilled vegetables such as zucchini, peppers, and onions or salad on the side as opposed to French fries or potato chips. (French fries do not count as a vegetable contrary to popular belief). Fruit salads make great summer desserts as a substitute for ice cream and cake.

Eating right takes discipline and awareness. It doesn’t mean you can’t ever eat a hamburger, cookie, or potato chip. It means you are consistently putting healthy foods in your body. You will notice how much better you feel because you are eating healthy and clean. After a while you might not crave the hot dog like you did before.

2. Eat light

Don’t starve yourself: if you are hungry you need to eat, but try to concentrate on how much you eat. Make an effort to not overeat. When eating there is a point when you have eaten enough and are satisfied, and then there is that point that many of us go past. This is the point you should try to avoid.

Try eating smaller meals throughout the day. Eat a large breakfast and smaller portions throughout the day. Eating this way can be beneficial especially if you are looking to shed a few pounds or get more toned. But remember just because you are eating smaller meals doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about what you are eating. Eating right and eating light go hand in hand.

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3. Hydrate

It is always important to drink enough water. This is especially necessary during the summer months. According to the American Heart Association, staying hydrated is critical for your heart health. “Keeping the body hydrated helps the heart more easily pump blood through the blood vessels to the muscles. And, it helps the muscles work efficiently.” This is not anything to take for granted. Without enough water your heart is going to suffer. If your heart suffers your body will as well.

The amount of water you should drink depends on many different variables. A useful way to test if you are drinking enough water is to pay attention to your urine. If it is light in color than you are drinking enough. If it is darker than you aren’t drinking enough. Also pay attention to how often you go to the bathroom. You don’t want to drown yourself because that can have negative consequences as well, but you want to ensure your body is properly hydrated.

If you are planning on spending a lot of time outside in the sun counteract dehydration symptoms with lots of H2O. This is really important when you plan on drinking alcohol or any other liquids that can lead to dehydration. Always have enough water available during the summer months no matter what you are doing.

4. Exercise

Humans aren’t meant to be a sedentary, so try to get as much exercise as you can. There are so many ways you can exercise effectively especially during the summer months. Running, walking, swimming, hiking are all simple forms of exercise you can do outside in the sunny weather. Unless you have severe health restrictions, there is a form of exercise out there waiting for you.

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The summer months are the perfect time to start taking exercise seriously. It can often be difficult to undertake an exercise regimen during the fall and winter months because of the cold and unfavorable weather. Play beach volleyball, go for long walks on the beach, or swim in the lake or the ocean. Exercise doesn’t have to be intense cardio or strength training. Take advantage of the warm weather and treat your body well.

It is important to determine what kind of body you want. Are you trying to lose body fat or do you desire to be more fit and active? Cater your exercise to fit your individual needs.

5. Focus on the core

Just as the foundation keeps a house strong and solid, the core keeps your body strong and solid. Even though core training is a form of exercise in itself I thought it deserved its own point of emphasis. Whether you are trying to form a six pack in your stomach or merely wanting to be stronger, focus on your core when you build your body for the summer. The core keeps your entire body together. If your core is weak than your whole body is going to suffer. Along with the normal exercise you do throughout the week add in some extra core work 3-4 times per week. This routine doesn’t need to be extreme. It is important to give your core the extra attention it deserves.

Having a strong core is more than just constructing sexy-looking abs. According to the Mayo Clinic, having strong core muscles is important for performing any physical activity. “Weak core muscles leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.” Building a strong core is essential to a healthy body and beneficial for those of all ages.

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6. Limit alcohol

This one can be tough especially during the summer months. I know how nice it can be to sit around outside during the summer months enjoying some adult beverages. As I said previously this is an enjoyable part of summer that you should take advantage of. But try to limit how much you drink and pay attention to what you drink.

If you are concerned with your body than you will limit how much beer you drink. Beer is refreshing in the summer but it is filled with empty calories, which can be detrimental to your body. Also watch out for liquors like whiskey and rum because they tend to have a lot of added sugars. Light liquors such as gin and vodka are probably your safest bet if you plan on drinking often throughout the summer.

7. Get rest

Your body needs rest. Make sure you provide it with plenty of rest. Don’t stay up late all the time partying. Get enough sleep. At the same time don’t workout incessantly. Your body needs time to recuperate and strengthen. Take rest as needed. Find a balance between having a good time, exercising, and resting. Your body will thank you.

Featured photo credit: Zhuoku via img.article.pchome.net

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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