Mother Nature took her sweet time, but summer is finally here, and you have more to look forward to then just warm weather throughout the season. You'll also probably lose some weight, and not even have to try.
Unlike winter, summer is entirely conducive to weight loss, for more than a couple of reasons. And no, not because you can workout outside and all that, summer can have you shedding some pounds without much added effort. Well, at least it won't consciously seem that way.
Depending on your summer-lifestyle, you could actually gain weight throughout the season, of course. But hopefully you're not just pounding back ice cream sandwiches and bottles of wine in the park, because summer is truly the season for weight loss. See what I mean below.
You're Walking Everywhere
Anyone who's obsessed with getting at least 10,000 steps everyday (like I am) will find it far easier in the summer, when you're inclined to walk everywhere. This is especially true in Montreal, as after the harsh winter where you were kept indoors and constantly cabbing places, you're dying for a good walk around the city.
From a simple stroll to a pleasant walk up the mountain, all those steps add up. And if you do manage to reach the recommended daily step count of 10,000 (it's far easier than you think, and your iPhone/smartphone probably already tracks your steps) you're looking at about 400 calories burned.
In a week, that's a full 2,400 calories used up simply by walking. If you're eating sensibly, the extra calories burned from walking more could account for almost a pound and a half of fat lost in two weeks.
You're Working Out Without Even Knowing It
Hitting the gym can be a difficult task for many, and given how boring running on the treadmill can be, I understand the struggle. But physical exercise comes in many forms, and throughout the summer, you'll probably be working out a bunch without ever realizing it.
Going on a pedal boat ride, kayaking, outdoor yoga, climbing the stairs up Mount Royal (which is a serious leg workout); all are entirely enjoyable activities that you do in the summer without even thinking about the health benefits and calorie-burning effects.
Granted, a lot of summer-time activities involve sitting and drinking, but many more have you moving your body all about. Heck, sometimes a day of chilling in the park with a bottle of wine will lead to some physical exercise anyway, as you're randomly inspired to play some volleyball at Parc La Fontaine or join in a game of hacky sack.
Summer is simply conducive to exercise, and you'll be fitter for it.
You're Drinking Way More Water
Water is the secret weight-loss remedy everyone knows of but never actually talks about. Crucial in pretty much every single bodily process, water is essential to the proper functioning of a healthy human body, and yet people simply do not drink enough H20.
That tends to change come summer, for one obvious reason: the heat. As the temperature rises, people are far more inclined to reach for a cold glass of water. Not only that, as you sweat a bunch (something that rarely happens in winter), you begin to crave hydration, with water always being the best solution.
Carrying around and constantly drinking from a water bottle is a summer routine for most, and the increased level of hydration can really help one lose weight. Often times, dehydration feels like hunger, prompting people to eat when they're not actually all that hungry.
So, by keeping hydrated, you're effectively curbing hunger and eating less, thus lowering your overall caloric intake and making it easier for you to lose weight. Combined with the aforementioned increase in physical activity summer brings about, you can see how water is a really simple solution to weight loss.
You're Eating Lighter Food
Mac 'n cheese, shepherd's pie, poutine; all are classic comfort foods you would love to eat in the winter, partly because they're delicious and partly because they (somehow) make you feel warmer. Even though it goes against all science, the buttery-cheesy indulgence of comfort foods are the answer to winter's cold. Thank god summer is here, then.
With the warm breezes of summer, your approach to food changes entirely. Gone is the need for a warming plate of cheese-covered pasta, as now you crave fresh vegetables, freshly-squeezed juices, and crisp salads. Simply put, summer cuisine is lighter and less calorie-dense than wintery-dishes, thus ensuring you take in less calories.
Of course, you could eat just as badly in summer as you do in winter, but generally, people tend to eat healthier in the season of warmth. And it's kind of hard not to when your Facebook feed is flooded with videos/images of light summer recipes, restaurants are serving fresh, seasonal dishes, and the grocery store is bombarding you with in-season produce. Everyone gets into eating better in summer, so it's fairly certain you will, too.
You're In A Better Mood
If you're anything like me, you may have the bad habit of eating when you're sad, or just in a bad mood of some sort. Food just seems like the only answer when you're feeling blue, and while a piece of chocolate cake may make you feel better in the long term, it doesn't really help out when you're trying to lead a healthy lifestyle.
As we all know, being in a good mood when it's negative thirty degrees outside is nigh impossible. But when summer hits in Montreal, you can't help but be filled with happy feels, as this past weekend, the first truly summerish one we've had in the city, all but proves.
Summer breeds a better mood, and when you're riding the natural high provided by sunlight and warm temperatures, you're never inclined to eat something indulgent to boost your mood.
You'll Naturally Be Less Hungry
When you're hot, you eat less, at least that's what people say. While there isn't a concrete scientific conclusion on whether or not higher temperatures reduce one's appetite, a solid assortment of studies and analyses seem to point towards that fact.
One 2013 study involving individuals who worked out in both hot and cool environments showed that afterwards, those who exercised in the hotter space ate less than the other group, leading researchers to believe higher temperature subdue hunger. Other studies have surmised that, since eating boosts one's internal temperature, that when in a hotter climate you will be naturally less inclined to consume food.
There is also the notion that, in colder environment, your body works harder to stay warm. In the summer, that isn't really an issue, so your body is using up less energy and thus needs less food. The energy needed to keep your body cool in extremely hot climates is neglected in this theory, but it may hold some value.
In truth, you can find a study to prove anything, but lets just look at this anecdotally. When you're hot and sweaty, eating is never really your first solution. Drinking a bunch of water or diving into a pool, perhaps, but not ingesting a warm meal. That's what you'd do in winter to beat the cold, not the heat of summer.
So while it may vary from person to person, enough evidence exists to suggest that a hotter environment will influence you to eat less than in a colder one. As such, summer can make you naturally less hungry, leading to lower caloric intake.
You Won't Constantly Be Near A Refrigerator
Hands up if you eat when your bored, feel like it, or when you're not hungry?
Yeah, that's a lot of us, and while "eating for the sake of eating" is not a good habit, it's kind of hard to break away from that mentality when you have constant access to food. This is especially true in the winter, when you're cooped up indoors with not much for you to do other than Netflix and eat.
Summer-culture in Montreal ameliorates this issue. As we all feel the need to be outside any time it's nice out and we have free time, we're getting away from our kitchen and the constant stream of snacks in our fridge. By simply being in the park, going for a walk, or anything else outdoors, you're unconsciously breaking the habit of getting up to grab a few bites from the fridge, because you can't.
You'll Be Exposed To Far More Light
Eat outside or with the window wide open when you can, because sunlight can actually help you manage your hunger. Nutrition experts have concluded that, when eating in dimly lit settings, your brain isn't able to tell when you're physically satisfied. In essence, by not seeing your food, you linger on a dish for longer which often results in overeating.
On the other hand, settings with intense light can cause the reverse reaction but with the same result; bright lights tend to make people rapidly gobble food too quickly, which doesn't give the brain enough time to say that you're full. This tends to be what happens when dining in fast food-type restaurants, where the neon nights are incredibly bright.
Fortunately, summer provides more than enough gentle sunlight to help you keep track of how your eating. Avoid high noon or being in direct sunlight when there's no cloud cover, and a meal eaten outdoors will be perfectly paced.
You'll Make More Of An Effort
One dark reality of summer is the moment when you put on a bathing suit and instantly become aware of how your body looks. This can be a moment of pride for some folks, but for most of us, as soon as we bare some skin we realize how we should have been taking better care of our bodies throughout the winter.
Yes, it's kind of stupid to get self-conscious about your body when you can't do much about it (and all bodies are beautiful, anyways) but it's times like these where one finally gets the motivation to eat better and exercise more. And in the winter, when you're covered in layers of sweaters, such moments don't come around too often.
The thing is, if you happen to feel a little unhealthy when you compare yourself to all the sexy people running around in skimpy summer-wear, don't get too down on yourself. Just realize you want to make a change and work towards leading a more active lifestyle. The hot bod will come later.