Keeping Your Great Summer Fitness

August is the month when most athletes are in fantastic shape. Don't let yourself lose momentum and gain weight during winter months. Start plotting your strategy now.

August is the month when most athletes are in fantastic shape. The summer has been filled with an assortment of outdoor activities, including outings with friends and family, races, training for races, vacations, yard chores and many other active interests.

Fit and healthy athletes love this time of the year and push thoughts of shorter, cooler days far away from conscious thought. Perhaps thoughts of limited daylight and winter workout clothes are suppressed, but thoughts of keeping fantastic late-summer fitness and body weight throughout the winter do become dreamy wishes.

"I wish I could keep my winter five-ish pounds...OK, maybe ten...from creeping onto my summer body. How can I make that happen?"

Winter's short days and less comfortable weather make it easy for fitness to dwindle. Add small changes in eating habits and the negative consequences can add up to bigger waistlines. What can be done to combat winter's cruel punishments?

Start plotting your strategy now. While it is common to gain a small amount of weight during winter months, you can keep weight gain minimum and keep your fitness from fading away by making battle plans now. Below are a few tips to get you thinking about your strategy.

Keep Track of Body Weight

Some people wait to take action until there is a perceived emergency. If you wait to change your habits until after your favorite pair of jeans no longer fit, this typically causes "the diet" to begin and big lifestyle changes are enforced.

Instead of making drastic changes, monitor the situation and make small adjustments as necessary. You can monitor the situation by weighing yourself once per week, in the nude, after you have completed your morning duties.

Be Aware of Small Increases in Eating Habits

To sustain being a regular person, each day you need approximately 30 calories per kilogram of body weight. To find your weight in kilograms, take weight in pounds and divide by 2.2. For example, if your weight is 140 pounds, weight in kilograms (kg) is 140/2.2, which equals 63.6 or 64 kg. To find daily caloric needs, take 64 x 30 = 1920 calories. Add more calories per day to this base if you lead a highly active lifestyle, 100 to 300 may be appropriate.

At a weight of 145 pounds, daily caloric needs would be 145/2.2 x 30, which equals 1977 calories. All other things being equal, the difference between maintaining a weight of 140 versus 145 over the long haul is only 57 calories per day!

If your winter activities include hanging around the refrigerator more often and exercising the choice of "just one extra bite" of chocolate cake, know that if nothing else has changed (you have not increased your exercise level) an additional 57 calories per day will slowly add five pounds to a 140 pound frame.

Be Aware of Changes in Physical Activity

It is common for people to overestimate how many calories they burn when they exercise. It is also very common for people to underestimate how active they are in the summer compared to winter months.

There are several calculators available on the internet. Check one of these out to see how many calories you burn during exercise. Are you overestimating the calories you burn?

For example, our 140 pound example person burns about 333 calories for one hour of low impact aerobics. This hour of exercise is excellent, but does not offset eating an additional 880 calories contained in a medium chocolate malt from one of the popular chain restaurants.

Because most people are naturally more active in summer months, balancing the number of calories consumed versus overall activity is easier than in winter months. Let's assume our 140-pound person is involved in a good deal of activity such as walking every day (220 calories burned per hour), golfing twice per week (300 calories burned per hour) and mowing the lawn (350 calories per hour) once per week. When these activities are eliminated in winter months, it will make a difference in the energy balance situation.

Eliminating activity in the winter means reducing caloric intake if you hope to maintain your weight. Of course if you want to keep your fitness in winter months, you need to replace summer activities with new winter activities.

Keeping Your Great Summer Fitness

Now is the time to plot strategies for how you can keep your weight and fitness well-managed and maintained in the upcoming months. Keep your body weight in check, be aware of your average caloric intake, know how your sports activities affect your energy balance and take note of how many lifestyle activities you do in the summer that disappear in the winter.

Once you are conscious of some of the items that have contributed to your excellent health and fitness now, begin planning how to maintain that status through the winter. Don't wait until your jeans are too small to take action--start planning now.


Gale Bernhardt was the 2003 USA Triathlon Pan American Games and 2004 USA Triathlon Olympic coach for both the men's and women's teams. Her first Olympic experience was as a personal cycling coach at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. Thousands of athletes have had successful training and racing experiences using Gale's pre-built, easy-to-follow training plans. For more information, click here. Let Gale and Active Trainer help you succeed.

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