GRAND BAHAMA ISLAND — On the island, we judge the arrival of summer by the water temperature. Usually around mid-May, it rises quickly to the low 80s, and scuba divers put away their full-length wet suits in favor of "shorties."
For the last few years, my shortie served more as a girdle than a wet suit--it held the fat in--but this time, it's too big, a nice state of affairs to start my summer routine.
You may have already met the reality of your summer clothes (did they shrink again?), so here are some suggestions gathered from my Body Worry committee to help you manage a nicer, healthier summer.
Rise Spirits, Cut Appetite
Start changing your winter eating habits now. Rather than eating full breakfasts after you wake up, get up a little earlier, have a glass of juice and take a short walk before eating a light breakfast of fruit and oatmeal or cereal. The walk (or any light form of exercise) will raise your spirits and probably cut back your appetite.
Try to walk a little before lunch and dinner, too. I can't tell you how much this simple change in habits will improve both your spirits and your shape.
Begin doing simple strength exercises. Many of us lose strength and stamina in the winter and spring months because we don't have as many reasons to move around. Walking will bring your stamina back quickly (usually within weeks), but walking combined with light calisthenics will make you stronger in the process.
If you are a real couch potato, start with simple exercises like this: Do several sets of push-ups against the wall. Then take a 5-pound or 10-pound object and do "curls" with it until you are fatigued. The amount of weight isn't important here, incidentally; it's the repetitions that count.
Look for other opportunities to move your muscles, too. I used to search for ways to keep from walking (like taking the elevator up one flight or, worse, down one flight), but now I consider those times perfect opportunities for strength building.
And since you're building strength and endurance, why not put that energy to work in some type of group athletic event? Regardless of your age or condition, there are dozens of activities, from group walking to senior-league softball, that will help make exercising more enjoyable and make you new friends as well.
Activity Feeds Itself
I can't tell you how much that last suggestion has meant to me. Before my remake, my circle of friends had been shrinking as my belly expanded. I simply didn't have the energy to do things. But activity feeds itself, and my free time is now spent doing things a lot more interesting than watching television.
I thought about that this afternoon as some friends and I biked along the south beach road to Barbary Beach. Right out of a movie, the beach is only six miles from my house. But today was the first time I biked it in seven years. Before I started taking a grip on my life, that distance could have been to the moon. Today, it seemed as easy as flipping the channel on my television or popping the top on another beer.
I like looking better. But I would be fat again if that were the only benefit of my program, if I didn't feel as good physically as I do now. So, pardon me while I go for a walk.
Beginning 35th Week Waist: 43 inches 33 3/4 inches Right biceps: 12 3/4 inches 13 inches Flexed: 13 inches 13 3/4 inches Weight: 201 pounds 168 pounds Height: 6' 1" Blood Pressure: 128/68 120/68 Pulse: 64 60 Bench press: 55 160 Hunk factor: .00 .67