In the scorching summer heat, the last thing you may want to do is exercise. But don’t
let the temperature be your excuse to abandon healthy habits! Here, Warren Honeycutt
shares eight fitness and nutrition tips to keep you fit when the heat is on.

Sure, you were excited about working out and losing weight when you could enjoy spring’s refreshing temperatures. But with some parts of the country experiencing record-breaking highs, your motivation is, funnily enough, cooling off.

Or maybe that fitness program you’ve been meaning to start is still on the back burner—and likely to stay there as long as burning-hot temperatures are in the forecast. Swimsuit season be darned—you’d rather stay cool than break any more of a sweat than you already are.

It’s fine if you can’t take the heat, says Warren Honeycutt—but don’t let summer scorch your motivation. You can still melt pounds without having a heat stroke.

“Fitness is about sustaining a healthy lifestyle all the time, no matter what the thermometer says,” says Honeycutt, author of Get Lean for Life: 7 Keys to Lasting Weight Loss (Get Honeycutt, Inc., 2014, ISBN: 978-1-5008011-7-5, $19.95, www.getlean.guru). “You don’t have to—and in fact, you shouldn’t—stick to the same routine all year round. So this summer, acknowledge where most of your excuses come from and look for creative new ways to reach your goals.”

A respected expert in weight loss, fitness, and nutrition, Honeycutt speaks from experience. He is a championship bodybuilder who has been a Southern Classic Physique Champion, two-time Mr. Tennessee, and six-time Mr. America finalist. Now, at age 62, he enjoys perfect health without any prescription medications. (Watch this video to see him take on a 21-year-old army serviceman in a push-up contest at age 61.) Honeycutt offers personalized fitness training through his comprehensive Get Lean program, which features detailed fitness videos for exercising at the gym, at home, at the office, and while traveling; personalized meal plans; motivational material; and more.

Here, Honeycutt shares eight “cool” summer fitness and nutrition tips you can put into practice right away:

Switch to a workday workout. If you just can’t face your usual run or walk around the neighborhood—or if you’d simply rather spend any free time you might have indoors or by the pool—consider exercising while you’re at the office. Your lunch hour can be a great time to fit in a short but effective workout without ever leaving an air-conditioned space.

“Put together a short resistance training routine like this one involving push-ups, bicep curls, crunches, and simple arm-band exercises,” Honeycutt suggests. “Not only will you avoid the sweltering heat; studies show that exercising during the workday improves performance, satisfaction, and attitude—a much better use of your break time than playing Candy Crush or scrolling through Facebook!”

Get the most bang for your workout buck. Okay, so nobody enjoys exercising for an hour—or even half an hour—when it’s 95 degrees outside. But you can hack it for just 10 or 15 minutes, right? (Of course you can!) Get the most bang for your buck with high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts, which alternate—you guessed it—high-intensity exercise with recovery periods.

“For instance, alternating between sprinting and walking for 10 or 15 minutes can boost your metabolism for up to two days,” Honeycutt comments. “If you have access to a track, sprint the straightaways and walk the curves. Or sprint one block in your neighborhood and walk the next. With HIIT, there’s no need to work yourself to death to see great results.”

Find creative, cool ways to keep moving. When most of us think of exercise, we picture “dedicated” athletic activities like running, biking, or classes at the gym. But at its core, exercise is very simple: It’s a body in motion.

“As long as you stay moving and your heart rate is up, you’re exercising,” says Honeycutt. “This summer, your ‘exercise’ might include splashing with your kids or grandkids in the pool, playing tennis with friends, walking your dog around the park, or taking a scuba diving class. And heck, for most of us, pushing the vacuum cleaner around the house or mowing the lawn for 30 minutes is a great workout!”

Focus on a fat-melting diet. If you’re moving intense workouts to the back burner for a few months, it’s more important than ever to make sure your diet isn’t working against you. The body digests and metabolizes different foods very differently—which means that maintaining or losing weight is never as simple as “calories in, calories out.”

“For example, if you eat 100 calories of simple carbohydrates, they will be digested quickly—and if you don’t burn them almost immediately, they will be stored as fat,” Honeycutt shares. “However, 100 calories of protein will be digested much more slowly and can be burned over the course of several hours. If you’re unsure of where to start, I recommend choosing foods that are lower on the Glycemic Index.”

Take advantage of seasonal ingredients. There are fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs aplenty this time of year, so commit to working more of them into your diet. Not only does seasonal produce tend to be good for you, it often “feels” cooler and lighter to eat than heavy processed meals.

“A rule of thumb I always share is, ‘If man makes it, don’t eat it,'” Honeycutt comments. “Following this guideline will help you avoid most unhealthy processed foods and those with a lot of additives—and at no time of year is it easier to stick to than summer. For instance, throw some seasoned chicken or fish on the grill along with peppers, corn, zucchini, or squash, and you have a delicious, nutritious meal in no time.”

Stay hydrated. Don’t just get in the water this summer; make sure there’s plenty of it in you, too. At all times of the year—but especially when temperatures are skyrocketing—proper hydration is essential.

“In addition to preventing thirst, cramping, and heat stroke, proper hydration helps you to get the most out of your workouts and ensures that nutrients are properly transported throughout your body,” Honeycutt says. “Keep drinking fluids throughout the day and remember that humble H2O is one of the healthiest beverage choices you can make.”

Whatever you do, don’t hop on a fad diet. If your beach vacation is fast approaching and your “love handles” are still more prominent than you’d like, you might be tempted to buy into a lose-weight-quick program. But boxed meal programs help you maintain good nutrition only as long as the boxes are available, and fad diets almost never produce lasting results because they’re boring, restrictive, and demoralizing.

“‘D-I-E-T’ is a four-letter word you should ban from your vocabulary, this summer and forever,” Honeycutt says. “The only way to lose weight and keep it off is to make sustainable changes that you can stick with for a lifetime. I guarantee you, if you try to limit yourself to carrots and kale, you’ll be back to filling your shopping cart with chips and ice cream long before the pool closes for the season. It’s much better to make slow, sustainable changes that will pay off over a lifetime—even if it means waiting a little longer to see results.”

Realize that “not perfect” is normal. We’re already well into shorts-and-swimsuit season. And Honeycutt says that if you haven’t already met your weight loss and fitness goals, you might be tempted to throw in your beach towel for the year. It’s too late to get trim and toned now—I might as well resign myself to another year of frumpy “tummy-camouflaging” bathing suits and baggy, shapeless clothing.

“First of all, it is never ‘too late’ to start improving your health,” he says. “Many of the tips I’ve shared here can help you move the needle before Labor Day. But also, I’m willing to bet that you are your own worst critic when it comes to your body. Look around the next time you go to the park or the pool. How many supermodels do you see? When you remind yourself that you’re normal, you’ll feel less self-conscious and like less of a ‘failure’—which will motivate you to keep making healthy choices.”

“No matter how hot it gets, there are always ways to improve your health and fitness,” Honeycutt concludes. “Let the heat index light a fire under you to find fun new ‘summerized’ foods and activities to add into your routine. Think about it this way: If you kick off sustainable changes now, there will be no need to go into weight-loss panic mode come swimsuit season 2016!”