By David Martin, President and CEO of VeinInnovations

What’s a better indicator that summer is coming: the first day you have to remove your jacket outside or the magazine headlines promising “The Ultimate Beach Body Workout” inside their pages? The pressure to be fit (but more importantly, thin) ramps up when the weather warms. Winter holidays centered on family and feasting contribute an extra pound or two every year. Sweater weather is a cover for weight gain, but the summer heat forces us to leave little to the imagination. Don’t jump into a crash diet or a masochistic exercise regimen in fear of the beach! Moderation is key, even when pursuing healthy activities.

A troubling tendency of those in a hurry to get fit is to push through the pain, heeding that outdated adage, “No pain, no gain.” There’s a distinct difference in using your last ounce of resolve to sprint at the end of your race and ignoring an aching joint in your knee so you don’t miss a morning run. You know your body. It’s there with you through everything from the winter nights spent on the couch to boot camp on a summer morning. Know the difference between good pain (the kind you should push through) and bad pain (your body’s way of saying it needs attention and a break.)

After a workout, good pain is indicated when there’s a general feeling of soreness throughout your body. That’s the best kind of tired. After a cool down and a shower, you’ll be ready for a good night’s sleep. If you feel pain in a specific place after a workout (be it your knees, shoulder, or back) take a break. You’ve overdone it.

Did your arm muscles start to burn while you did pushups? That heat is good pain and should dissipate soon after your finish your set. You might even be ready for another ten after your break! Did your shoulder feel pinched during your pushups? Does it hurt after you’ve stopped? Don’t attempt that next set.

Have you started taking runs around Chastain Park in the morning? You should feel tired and ready for a drink of water when you’ve finished the loop. Pushing past your fatigue to finish that last mile helps you get faster and stronger. If your knees are aching or your leg muscles feel as tight as rubber bands, you went past the point of healthy and veered into foolhardy.

I mention running in this list of good pain/bad pain because runners are trained to keep going. Mental tenacity is vital for a marathon runner. They’re aren’t many people who see mile 18 come and go and can still keep the pace until the end of mile 26. The same mental tenacity that keeps runners going until to the finish line is the same mindset that sometimes keeps them from acknowledging their body’s needs.

Remember that a small problem — like symptoms indicating the beginning of shin splints — can be treated easily when you catch it early on. Little problems won’t force you onto the sidelines, but ignoring them may!

When magazines and television and advertising send messages that we’re not good enough as we are, it’s hard not to feel pressured. Maybe it is a good goal for you to get in shape. But remember, the women and men on the magazine covers have been photoshopped. Be realistic about the goals for your body. By all means, use the warm summer weather to get outside and get exercising. Just to listen to what your body tells you so you can enjoy the whole season and not just the first three weeks!

Still feeling the pressure of the “Beach Body”? I highly recommend this article on “How to Get a Perfect Beach Body.” It should help you ignore the frantic messages of perfection at any cost!