Staying Motivated in the Dog Daze of Summer

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MarcoFreyIt’s the time of year when I misspell ‘days’. We’ve crossed the solstice, that midpoint in the earth’s lap around the blazing sun, and when’s the last time you checked in on New Year’s resolutions? I think we all can relate to slacking the rope during the hottest months. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But for those of us who are trying to push through past year mediocrities into our best selves, here are a few things I do to stay motivated in the mind-numbing heat.

Exercise. Studies show that short, high intensity intervals, followed by rest, can give you more bang for your buck. You’ll avoid too much time in the energy-sapping heat while improving your blood’s oxygen capacity. After a few weeks, you’ll reach a new normal and the heat will tire you less. Plus, you can enjoy ice cream in your air-conditioned home, guilt-free.

Eat Less, More Often. Especially in the summer, it’s rarely a good idea to gorge in the middle of the day (food coma, anyone?). Instead, munch on a handful of nuts here, half a chicken breast there, and a mango for those enzymes!

Take Cold Showers. The first time will feel like fire. Your brain will tingle, you’ll briefly go numb. The water will constrict your blood vessels, squeezing out toxins like lactic acid built up from your workout, and it will speed up your recovery. But the health benefits don’t end there. There’s a reason cold showers are prevalent in so many cultures. Studies show they relieve depression, strengthen immunity, and increase testosterone (good for women, too). And that tingle in your brain will wake you up from summer’s daze.

Experiment with Sleep. Take advantage of the long sunlight hours. Try cutting down to six hours of sleep at night, supplemented by a nap in the afternoon. You’ll enjoy the benefits of starting your day early so that the tedious tasks get done first. Feeling accomplished? Take a nap. Still motivated? Well, now time is on your side. Give yourself options.

coffeMorning Routine. Morning habits set the tone for your day. My routine consists of drinking a full glass of water, making the bed, doing the dishes, a couple reps of pullups, finished with a coffee meditation. That’s right, just sit there for a minute and enjoy your coffee. These tasks, though small, will get your brain and body in line, and remind you that the loftiest goals are made of small habits.

Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. Pull out those New Year’s resolutions again. Yeah, getting six-pack abs was pretty ambitious. Ambitious goals need to be broken down, and habits need time to form. Instead of thinking of the higher goal, think of the lower goals that precede it. If you want a six pack, you’ll need to eat healthy food. If you want healthy eating habits, you need to research. You need a solid grocery list. You’ll need to get into the habit of prepping meals so it’s harder to cheat. And so on. Think of each day as a link in the chain, and trust in incremental progress.

Socialize. Though joining friends to share a Lowcountry boil may feel unrelated to your personal goals, you need to change your mindset. It’s when you’re at ease with others where your mind is open to new ideas. You can vent about problems, find commonality, and your new contacts may help you down the road. Remember to leave your excuses and negativity at home, and focus on being in the moment. Share value in your interactions to attract abundance.

Relax. That’s right. How many of us actually take a solid day off? No itinerary, no obligations. Do your chores mid-week. On Saturday, you could socialize, work on personal goals, or spend time with family. But Sunday should be a true rest day, of indulgence and reflection, and those who honor it will reap the benefits.