Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The "S" in Summertime is for "Sweating"

At least, this used to always be the case for me.

Confession #1: I hate to sweat! It's really uncomfortable, especially for a neat freak like myself.

Confession #2: I've never revealed this, but my discomfort from sweating is actually one of the major factors for why I claim to hate summer so much. It really is my least favorite season.

So, you see, many years ago when I was a wee lad, I got a summer job working in the produce section of a high-end supermarket in the upper east side of Manhattan. To walk there from the subway, however, took 20 minutes -- part of which was uphill. That summer was also one of the hottest on record. And at that time I still lived at home with my grandmother, which meant no AC whatsoever to come home to after a hard day at work.

I think you get the picture.

I never sweated so much in my life up that point! Ick! You don't know what suffering is until you've walked 20 mins in late afternoon, 98-degrees F heat to a subway platform two stories below ground, and then have to wait an additional 15 minutes for your train to arrive while sweat pours by the liter down your back and sides, and all across your brow and face. Double ick!

My air conditioner for the first 24 years of my life.

Fast forward a few years when I started to put on a lot of weight, and now the sweat factor was beyond gross. It was simply unbearable! Even walking only two blocks in the mid summer heat would have my clothes drenched in sweat. It made it very difficult for me to go anywhere. So aside from commuting to and from work, I used to avoid going out much during the warmest months of the year. Hence why I hated the summertime.

However, back in 2005 when I underwent a major change in my life and began to eat healthier, exercise more, and lose around 60 lbs of excess weight -- a very unintended side effect cropped up. I no longer seemed to be affected by the heat of summer! I mean, like, not at all! I could walk for blocks and blocks down Manhattan streets in 90+ temps and barely crack a sweat. It was amazing! See, after working out so much and losing weight, I had noticed back during the winter and spring months how my body was suddenly colder than it used to be. It used to be that my body simply exuded heat like an oven, even in the dead of winter. I very rarely wore a heavy coat in January and February, and I used to sleep with the windows wide open in the bedroom during those months, too. But once I lost the weight, this all changed. Now during the winter months, I not only kept those bedroom windows closed and shut tight, but I slept under 2 to 3 layers. I also noticed that my hands were cold ALL THE TIME. I had to wear gloves outside well into late March, as I recall.

Sweating while working out
is good ... except when it's not!

Needless to say it took my body some time to adjust to being so much lighter. My ability to regulate body heat had been compromised. Which was great when summertime rolled around. During the hottest days, my body seemed to just soak up all the heat, welcoming it. I would luxuriate in it, actually--like a lizard! I felt like I had super powers. Now, suddenly, a season which I used to hate and fear in equal measure was altogether more enjoyable. I even started taking beach vacations. Me! Can you believe it???

And that's actually where I'm at today. I sweat a ton whenever I work out, especially during my runs. But then, I work out HARD! However, when it comes to walking around outdoors in early August? I barely even feel the heat. Crazy!

We recently had a heat wave here in the city, and all these so-called summer lovers were complaining loudly about the heat. Oh, what sweet irony! Here I was the biggest hater of the season, and yet I could walk around and say: "Nah, this ain't so bad." Pretty wacko.

Yesterday morning while waiting for the train to work to show up, I noticed so many people on the platform fanning themselves. And it only hit me then that it must have been unusually warm. Let that sink in. It took me actually *looking* at other people being uncomfortable to register that it must be pretty hot and unbearable today. Because for me, I felt no discomfort whatsoever. If anything I could say that the air was heavy and stuffy down there in the subway station, sure, but yet I was nowhere even close to breaking a sweat.

Sweating while standing still. Only in New York (and Houston).

And that's when I realized just why exercise is so important. I used to think that losing weight made you more resistant to sweating. But now I know it's actually exercise. Because I know really skinny people who never exercise--or rarely do--but who sweat in the summer time just walking around outdoors. They also complain about the heat the same as overweight people. So what's that all about? See, I think it's the lack of exercise. When you don't run your body past the basic movements of everyday life, your heart becomes weak over time and struggles that much more just to pump blood throughout your body. That extra effort produces heat, and that heat raises your body temperature. Add to that the already warm ambient heat outside your skin, and now your body's being bombarded by heat on both sides -- without and within!

A heart more accustomed to extraneous exercise, however, pumps slower and thereby does less work for the same results. I have a low resting heart rate, actually. It's usually between 52 and 57 beats per minute. An average person with a good body weight has a resting heart rate in the 70s or low 80s. My doctor tells me that mine is so low because I must run a lot. Turns out it's actually more to do with weight lifting, I've found. Sure, running does help, but regular and continuous weight training exercise throughout the week builds up your heart muscle even better! I think a combo of the two must be why my heart is so strong. And this must also be why I don't sweat a lot, if at all, even when the temps outside are sweltering.

Something to keep in mind if you, like me, hate to sweat. Or if you find yourself generally uncomfortable by the heat of mid summer. Look to incorporate more strength exercises into your weekly routine.

This pooch knows what it is!

On the flip side . . . if you do not generally sweat a lot and/or don't find the heat unbearable, I'm guessing you probably have pretty good heart health. Congratulations!


  1. Stay away from Houston until at least October. Ha! It's friggin HOT beyond HOT here. Seriously. I'm used to our summer heat but this summer takes the cake. I do agree with you that excercise is the key to sweating profusely. Meaning, yes one must condition the body in a way that walking a block or two in hot weather or any weather really, doesn't cause you to look like you have just run a marthon. Great observasion friend! :)

  2. Ha! :) I captioned that one pic just for you, Yvonne. Because I knew a Houstonian would *get* it. The only thing you guys have going for you is that I'm sure your city has air conditioning just about everywhere! Not so here in NYC. And you guys spend more time in your cars, which are also air conditioned. At least, one would hope. But here in NYC we generally walk everywhere we can. Or take the subway when we can't. Unfortunately in the dog days of summer, neither option is very appealing. Especially if you get on that one mysteriously empty train car to only discover when it's too late that the AC is out, and the doors close behind you. So *that's* why it was empty!

    Stay cool, my friend.

  3. 60 pounds! Wow that's an accomplishment. I struggle with my weight and I'm pretty active. But...I don't sweat. Now, my hubby is another story ;D

  4. I think men sweat more than women anyway. Well, all the women I've ever known seem to always complain about how cold they are ... even in the middle of summer! So maybe that helps keep the sweat away. Or at least, down to a minimum.


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