Summer in Austin is upon us, and that means it’s time to have some fun in the sun with our friends and family. From patio spaces with amazing food and drinks to breweries chock full of food trucks to boat and park picnics, there is no shortage of good times to be had as we head into the warm summer months.
It can be a challenge balancing the social invites and refreshing cocktails that the sunshine is begging you to partake in — but it’s possible to enjoy yourself and still stay on track with your health and fitness goals.
For many people, limiting alcohol intake and getting enough sleep are two of the most challenging parts of hitting their fitness goals, and the endless summertime fun in Austin can make this particularly difficult.
For those with more typical 8-5 gigs, a good start is opting out of drinking during the workweek and not going too overboard on the weekends. For those with more erratic work schedules or odd hours, creating boundaries for how often you drink throughout the week may look different but can have the same general guidelines. Limiting or cutting out alcohol when you have work the next day will help you sleep better and reduce the overall amount you drink.
Reducing your alcohol consumption doesn’t mean cutting out socializing with friends and family, and going out doesn’t mean your gym time and nutrition have to go completely off the rails.
Make sure you’re scheduling gym sessions for your training goals, especially if you know you’ll have busy days — working out earlier in the day on summer weekends means you’ll still get it in and have plenty of time for fun afterward without feeling like you’re cutting anything out. If you’re prone to last-minute canceling a workout when a more “fun” opportunity presents itself, start turning your workouts into a more social event. You can plan your weekend workouts to be group classes you take with a friend, a walk or jog in the park with your family or a bike ride with your SO.
Are you good at getting your workout in but not so great at staying on track when you’re out on the town, enjoying a frosty beverage in the sunshine? Make sure you focus on getting good nutrition most days of the week. The 80/20 rule is mentioned frequently because it’s a good general rule of thumb — hitting your nutrition targets 80% of the time will still get you to your goals, even if it’s a little slower.
Going out after a workout session? Make sure you eat post-workout so your body is satiated and you are fueling up after working hard. Going out on an empty stomach after a strenuous workout is like going to the grocery store hungry — you’re going to make some questionable decisions that aren’t going to help your muscle mass and fitness goals (or your digestion). There are no “good” and “bad” foods, but eating a high-protein and high-fiber meal before going out will help you feel full so you can treat yourself mindfully when going out with friends.
Another key to managing your alcohol intake and safely enjoying summer in the heat is staying hydrated. Match your alcoholic drinks with your water intake, and make sure you’ve had plenty of water throughout the day before going out. There is also plenty of low-alcohol and non-alcoholic options readily available!
Most people are not Olympic athletes or competitive bodybuilders. If the goal is staying healthy and strong to lead a better life, you can still have some fun and stay in line with your goals. A little overindulgence every now and then is not a deal-breaker; just make sure if you veer a little off track during a night on the town, that you start back up with your regular eating patterns in the next day or so (no juice cleanses, detoxes or fasting required).
Too many people assume perfection is necessary to run those miles, lift big weights or build muscle. But consistency over perfection will get you there, and in a much healthier and sustainable way. Do your best to make the best choices you can and don’t overdo when you’re out, but remember that just getting back to it afterward is the biggest impact you can have on your long-term health.
The bottom line? Cutting out fun is no way to live! You can enjoy the summer months with some drinks in the sunshine without feeling like you’re giving up on your fitness goals, and you can enjoy your training without giving up on your social life. Like everything in life, being mindful of your habits is the key to a full life, in and out of the gym.
About the Author
Sarah Leahy is a Minneapolis transplant in East Austin, certified personal trainer, award-winning interior designer and former gym owner. She offers in-person and online training with an emphasis on strength training and building confidence in and out of the gym. Leahy’s passion for strength extends to your business, with a full offering of gym design and business consulting services.