Lose weight the right way — avoid over-training and under-eating.

Summertime! For many, this means vacations, adventures, fun drinks, good food and less clothing. That last one might make you feel a bit self-conscious. But there’s still time to look better! All you have to do is starve yourself and exercise every day until it’s go-time. It works, right? There is a difference between looking healthy and being healthy, but that’s probably not a priority right now.

I get it. Sometimes things get out of control, we lose track of time, and then we rush to get acceptable results. When you reach your deadline, I’m going to ask, “Do you have the summer body you wanted? Do you feel good? Are you excited and energetic?” Many of you showed little progress, so you dieted more and exercised harder. You don’t sleep well, you’re sore all the time, and you feel like you’re getting weaker. Ever hear Einstein’s definition of insanity?

Stop comparing

“I have a friend/relative that lives this way all the time and looks amazing.” Simple response is, “You’re not them so stop trying to be like them.”

People often exaggerate their nutritional and exercise habits. We all have different genetics and lifestyles, so unless you’re monitoring them around the clock, you can’t specifically compare your efforts.

The human body is adaptable and will fight to maintain balance. However, let me repeat — there is a difference between looking healthy and being healthy.

Too much exercise? Avoid over-training

Ever make JELL-O®? Exercise is the same for your body. It’s best enjoyed if given time to settle and take shape. If you keep opening the refrigerator to stir, it’ll look lumpy and deformed. This may be acceptable for JELL-O®, but not your body.

Over-training is when you don’t give your body enough time to repair the damage caused by exercise. A person can look good, but a medical exam will reveal distressed organs, weakened immune system, inflamed joints and muscle catabolism. In its fight to maintain balance, the human body will make sacrifices.

You may not notice or shrug it off as “good pain” or “getting older,” but this constant build-up of stress will manifest itself when you least expect. If you’re lucky you’ll just get sick, e.g. exhaustion or a bad cold. Otherwise you could experience a debilitating injury.

Fat-free is bad?

Replace the words “fat-free” or “low-fat” with “chemical $h!#-storm.” It takes man-made processing to alter natural foods while maintaining consistency and appearance.

Under-eating deprives your body of essential nutrients. This becomes crucial with the added stress of exercise. It’s easy to get focused on quantity instead of quality, i.e. counting calories without paying attention to the source of those calories. You need more fat than you realize just sitting in your chair. Cutting too much puts your body in a panicked “I’m going to starve” state, and it will hold on to and increase fat reserves every chance it gets.

Even with intense exercise, your body will fight to hold on to these reserves.

Stay active

Don’t take this as an excuse to eat fatty foods while sitting on the couch. It still takes effort, but maybe not as much as you thought. Exercise to feel fit and eat to be healthy. Don’t just learn, but take the time to understand the difference between processed and naturally occurring nutrients, especially fat. Yes, fat is a vital nutrient, not an evil toxin that sabotages your tummy. So maybe it’s too late for your ideal body this summer. You can still look good in winter, even if it’s for yourself.