Monday, June 11, 2012

Beat the Heat

Some people love the sultry heat of a DC summer. I am not among them. The heat weakens me. The humidity makes me feel swollen, sluggish. I'm oppressed by summer in this city!

I used to cope by drinking icy beverages but my acupuncturist has convinced me that isn't the best way to cool down. The stomach is a slow cooker that needs to maintain 100 degrees F. in order to do its job. Throwing ice into the stomach slows or stops the process of digestion. It should not come as a surprise that after several icy drinks, I inevitably develop a stomach ache which, of course, does not help anything.

Another coping behavior I adopted, long ago in the midst of Kansas City's awful summers, was to hide in air conditioned spaces as much as possible. Not only was I cut off from spending time outdoors - never a good thing for any of us - but I was so intolerant of the heat that even a few minutes spent outside was a miserable experience. It's no way to live, hiding in hermetically sealed environments.

A more balanced approach is healthier and makes for a much happier experience of summer. I go for walks early or late in the day, and yes I take a thermos of icy water with me, but instead of drinking it by the gallon, I sip the water slowly. If I don't care what I look like (and it's hard to look good when it's furiously hot and humid), I pour a tablespoon or so of icy water on the crown of my head when needed. It's a shock but cools me instantly. Another great technique is to hold an ice cube on the inside of a wrist or in the crease of the elbow. It's almost unbelievable how well these techniques work.

I carry a folding paper fan with me wherever I go, and yes I drink lots of cool - not cold - water. Tea has an astringent effect making it better for sultry summer days than coffee. Lemonade is good, too. Mix them together for the perfect summer beverage.

On the worst, most heinously hot days most people avoid the direct impact of the weather, but there are always a few out there, running past the chateau at midday. I always wonder whether these people are oblivious to the heat or are natives of another planet. They are definitely not made of the same stuff as I.

It can't be good for even the most stalwart of summer lovers to run in 100 degree heat, though I suppose what doesn't kill them makes them stronger. I'm strong enough as is and no longer need to tilt against the weather. How about you?

Be well, stay cool. Shalom.

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