Favorite heat-related quote from our August inferno: “I’m truckin with my brakes on.”
I know. This may not be not as funny if you didn’t see who said it. But I did, so I can’t get that picture out of my head. Let me try to re-create it for you. (If only I had thought to take a picture!)
Here was this sweet, tiny little old lady in the grocery store checkout line. She was all dressed up, like my little grandmother used to do, all earbobs and necklaces, and going to the grocery store was probably the highlight of her week. The cashier asked how she was holding up in all this heat (thinking, I’m sure, about all the reports we’ve been getting lately of the elderly succumbing here in the ovenlike slow cooker formerly known as Texas.)
“Oh, I’m doing all right,” the little lady said, pawing through her purse for her coupons. Then she looked up with the cutest little smile I’ve ever seen. “But I am kind of truckin’ with my brake on; how’s that?”
Everyone in the line laughed. Aren’t we all?
But that brings me to a more serious point. It’s related to fitness and exercising, especially in this kind of heat. And even if you’re just still contemplating your all-out assault on the fitness front, here are a few things to remember.
Part of what makes heat cause this kind of brake-like “drag” on you is a plain old lack of water in our bodies. Even when you stay in air conditioning all day, the heat assaults your hydration levels in insidious ways, and it is difficult, if not impossible, to keep enough water on board if you’re not making a concerted effort. And if you’re outside working in it, even drinking water like a camel, it is still hard to get enough and keep enough of that elusive stuff in our bodies. I’ve never been a fan of so-called “sports drinks,” but some of them are pretty good. Just be sure to read the labels and watch the sugar — and don’t forget to STILL drink as much as you can of good old H2O.
Look at how much our horses are drinking (try NOT think of the ones in Parker County whose automatic waterers failed and they all died. Don’t even get me started on that. ). Horses know that the only way to cope with all this heat is to drink a LOT of water.
But we humans, we aren’t always so wise. We may drink other stuff. (Beer is mostly water, right?) And we probably wait until we feel thirsty, but by then, the experts tell us, it’s too late. So drink up! Try to keep water with you at all times and swig on it continually throughout the day. It will seem odd to you at first, but it will get to be a habit and you’ll eventually start to crave the stuff.
I read somewhere the other day that most of us go around in a state of mild dehydration much of the time and don’t even know it. Now I’m not talking about hospital-scale dehydration. I’m just talking about that place where we’re functional, but “truckin with our brake on.” It’s really amazing how being just a little bit low on water takes a toll on us in ways we don’t realize. When we aren’t well-hydrated, we feel more lethargic, we can’t think as clearly. We may think we’re hungry. We may think we’re sleepy. We may think we’re getting early onset Alzheimers. We’re just thirsty and don’t realize it.
So for the rest of this toasty interlude, for however long it lasts, here are a few tips to help you cope with the extreme heat. Most of this, by the way, I learned from practicing Bikram Yoga. (You know, the Hatha yoga discipline developed by Bikram Choudhury that is 26 postures and two breathing exercises practiced for 90 minutes in a 110+ degree room.) I’ve been enjoying “Bikram’s Torture Chamber” [the nickname came from Bikram himself!) on and off for nearly 10 years now, and I’ll have to say that It’s strangely liberating to be able to do that class and realize that as long as we take care of ourselves and listen to our bodies, we don’t have to be whiny heat wimps every year when August rolls around in Texas.
Here are three things I learned from Bikram Yoga about coping with extreme heat:
- Stay ahead of the hydration curve. If you wait till you’re thirsty to drink, it’s too late. Set your timer and drink a glass of water every hour on the hour and more in between if you think of it and want to. But be religious about that timed drinking.
- Embrace the sweat. It’s your body’s cooling mechanism and when you wipe it away, it defeats its purpose. Practice the discipline of not wiping sweat (but do what you need to keep it out of your eyes!!! And appreciate this personal swamp cooler you’re carrying around.
- Control your breathing and your thinking. The more you think about the heat, talk about the heat, moan and groan about the heat, the hotter it will seem. Train your mind to focus on something else and feel the temperature drop. Not really . . .but your own register of it will, and that’s what’s important!
And best of all, if someone asks you how you’re doing in the heat, just smile sweetly and say “I’m truckin’ with my brake on!” in special tribute to my unsuspecting supermarket hero.