My patented summer weight loss plan

First came the high school reunion. We never had one at ten years, so it was our first time seeing one another in 15-years. Since no one would commit to anything, the event was held at Madam Belle’s Silver Dollar Saloon, ten miles out of Germantown in the middle of country nothing. Show up if you would like, buy yourself a drink and some fries, and if you happen to see someone you recognize while you are there, reunite with them! Then came the record stretch of unending heat and humidity when the only sensible thing to so was wallow in a lake or river like a hippopotamus, taking occasional breaks to eat ice cream. This week, my friends and I chose to wallow in the St. Croix River at Osceola Landing, where an antique store selling hand-scooped ice cream was only a five-minute drive away.

Get-togethers with old classmates and days at the beach are certainly fun activities, but they both have a definite downside, which is the panic they stir in your soul when you suddenly realize that you need to lose ten pounds in the next five days. Luckily, Minnesota’s hot, muggy summers present us with plenty of opportunities for weight loss. Sure, you might just be lighter because every last drop of water in your body has evaporated, taking with it your energy and will to live, but all that matters is that number on the scale, right?

MCC volunteers stenciled storm drains in Stillwater on July 18

To start your new weight loss plan with a bang, I recommend heading outside to clean up the curbs and gutters in your neighborhood. Chose a 95º day with 80% humidity for maximal results. I tested this workout myself on July 18, along with six unsuspecting crew leaders from the Minnesota Conservation Corps. They had contacted me months ago looking for a service project to tie in with the St. Croix River Association’s 100-year anniversary paddle. Those poor kids from California, Georgia and Oklahoma never dreamed it could get so hot here. We set to work smack dab in the middle of downtown Stillwater in the blazing sun, picking up litter and debris along the street and stenciling storm drains with a message reading, “Dump no waste, drains to river.” Many people don’t realize that storm drains in the street empty untreated into lakes and rivers, and with Lumberjack Days right around the corner, it seemed like the perfect time to get the word out. After three hours in the heat, the sun had sucked every last ounce of energy from our bodies, leaving us all at least three pounds lighter.

To continue your weight loss plan, try canoeing on one of the 80 lakes in Washington County or even the St. Croix River. I tried this with my co-workers last week, on the one day of the week that had torrential downpours with non-stop lightening and crashing thunder. We never actually made it on to the river, but after carrying canoes down to the river, standing in the pouring rain and then carrying the canoes right back up from the river two hours later, we all cried enough to lose another 2-3 pounds. Meanwhile, the poor folks participating in the St. Croix River anniversary paddle launched during a break in the thunder and lightening and paddled nine miles in 20-mile per hours winds, so they probably got rid of all ten of their pounds right then and there. Sometimes, of course, you get a beautiful, sunny day with light breezes over the water when you canoe, and while you might not get as good of exercise, I’m told it is much more enjoyable.

The final stage of my patented summer weight loss plan takes place at the Washington County Fair. Now, you might not think the fair is a good place to lose weight, with all the cheese curds and cotton candy around, but that’s only because you’ve never set up a booth at the fair. This year’s fair runs Wednesday, Aug. 3 through Sunday, Aug. 7 ( If things go according to plan, there will be suffocating heat and humidity on Tuesday, the day that we’re setting up the booth for the Washington Conservation District and East Metro Water Resource Education Program. Twenty trips back and forth from the truck into the building should knock off those last remaining pounds. Of course, the other option is that a freak thunderstorm will roll in out of nowhere, and then we will have to sprint back and forth to get everything into the building in time. Obviously, sprinting is good exercise. At this year’s fair booth, we’ll have information about the projects we’ve done to keep the St. Croix River and other local water bodies clean, native plants on display, silly photo opportunities for the whole family, and educational resources and information about a range of other topics, including noxious weed control, oak wilt and cost-share grants for clean water projects.

Now, having shared with you the secrets to my patented summer weight loss plan, I want to advise you that you might not actually lose any weight at all. You see, in a small majority of the population (roughly 99%) all of the weight that you lose stenciling storm drains, carrying a canoe in the pouring rain, and schlepping heavy display items in and out of the county fair buildings will be replaced with a giant waffle cone containing two scoops of ice cream, a hot cup of chocolate imbibed after canoeing in the rain, and of course, the aforementioned cheese curds and cotton candy at the fair. At least you won’t gain weight though, right?