Last week, I told you how to embrace the cold—how to make the most of an uncomfortable ambient temperature. Today, I’m giving you some ideas on how to embrace the other uncomfortable ambient temperature: heat. What can you do to make the most of hot weather? How do you handle heat? How can you make something objectively unpleasant—and even dangerous—beneficial, pleasant, and enjoyable?
Because you shouldn’t just give in and turn on the AC and forget about doing anything. You shouldn’t run away from the heat. You should be able to face it head on and make friends with the heat, not enemies.
While some people use the winter as an excuse to burrow into their blankets and do as little physical activity outdoors as possible, that’s a huge mistake. Wintertime is an excellent time to get outside. Don’t hurry from warm interior environment to warm interior environment, trying to minimize exposure. Dally outdoors. Feel the chill. Experience the elements. Embrace the cold.
How to Embrace the Cold
To embrace the cold, you must understand that cold is just a feeling. To go outside in cold weather, the promise of heat and warmth and soft blankets in the house behind you—this is true luxury. The cold poses no threat to your safety and security, only to your momentary comfort. And so you must go forth boldly into the cold. As the cold air hits your skin, you are losing body heat in an eternal exchange between you and your environment, but this is okay. It’s uncomfortable, yes, but it’s not going to hurt you. You must understand this.
You must understand that cold exposure will increase the activation of brown fat, a metabolically active type of adipose tissue that burns energy to keep you warm, thereby improving metabolic health. Understand that in order to grow, in order to benefit from any training modality, you must first feel discomfort. This is a law of nature that cannot be avoided. You must first feel the discomfort and then recover from it. When you are exposed to cold your body is learning to adapt to it; cold exposure is a training session just like lifting weights or running sprints. Think of it as a beneficial part of the process, and it won’t feel so bad.
Last week, I discussed winter survival tips and gear. That’s what most people mean when they talk about survival situations: staying alive in harsh snowy conditions. But there’s also summer survival. What do you do against the heat? If winter survival is all about maintaining body heat, keeping metabolic rate high, increasing both true temperature and the “feeling” of being warm, what is warm weather survival about?
There are a few primary things you need to take into account when dealing with warm weather survival:
Avoiding excess sun exposure.
Staying cool during the day (and warm at night).
Tending to wounds and injuries.
In other words, you need to focus on the bottom two levels of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs: food, shelter, water, warmth, security, and safety.
These tips and this gear don’t just apply to full-on warm weather survival situations. They also apply to “simulated” warm weather survival situations—camping, hiking, backpacking. Any time you’ll be out in the heat for more than a few hours, paying attention to all these basic requirements will help you have an enjoyable and safe journey.
I may have spent the last several decades of my life living in warm or temperate climates—the SF Bay Area, Malibu, and Miami are famous for their mild or non-existent winters—but I grew up in coastal Maine and spent the majority of my time outside, rain, snow or shine. I’ve endured some harsh winters and I think it’s important that everyone be equipped to handle themselves in cold weather.
Part of surviving winter is surviving it outdoors—whether you choose to be there or not.
Part of surviving winter is having the right supplies in your car.
Part of surviving winter is surviving it at home in the event of a power outage. As we saw a little while ago in Texas, simply being at home doesn’t mean much if your power goes out and you’re not prepared.
Perimenopause and menopause comes with a complex web of physical, psychological, and social symptoms.
The treatment usually prescribed by doctors, hormone therapy (HT), is controversial and not appropriate for some women. I won’t get into the HT debate here—Mark did a great job covering the pros and cons recently. Suffice it to say that HT isn’t the answer for everyone, and it’s not a panacea by any means.
Whether or not they choose to go the HT route, many women desire additional support during perimenopause and beyond. For the sake of keeping this post from becoming a novella, I’m going to focus on mind-body therapies today.
For the last 30 years, the messaging has been clear: Slather your body with sunscreen if you so much as even think about going outside in the sun. Cloudy and rainy? Doesn’t matter. Wear the sunscreen. Want to build up a base tan? You’re killing yourself. Wear the sunscreen. It’s only ten minutes? That ten minutes of sunscreen-less sun exposure will shave a year off your life. Wear the sunscreen.
In more recent years, the tide has shifted. Research has come out showing that most commercial sunscreen contains chemical compounds that act as carcinogens when absorbed, at least in animal models. Maybe we don’t even want to block the sun at all. Or maybe we do, but there’s a better way to do it than using chemical filters that absorb into our skin. At any rate, I figured with summer rolling around that it was time to revisit the topic of sunscreen. So let’s do that, shall we?