The summer months are here which for many of us means the kids are home and it is chaos! There are BBQs to attend and vacations to get to. With all the fun that summer brings, it can also wreak havoc on our health and fitness goals. Here are some simple tips to help keep you on track while you are having fun!
1. Choose your treats wisely.
Every party we attend and vacation we go to will have a multitude of treats. Whether you gravitate towards the chips and guacamole, enjoy a few cold beers, or really get after those sweet treats, it’s important to have some limits around when we consume these things and how much we consume of them.
Before going to a party try to think through what you want to indulge in. Rather than indulging in the pre-dinner chips and guacamole, having three beers, and then also having three brownies, choose just one part to enjoy. This will help keep your caloric total down, therefore keeping those unwanted pounds off. If you know the menu ahead of time, make your decision before you go to the party. This could look like, “I’m going to forego the chips and guac so I can have a beer with my tacos and enjoy a brownie afterwards.” Having a plan in mind before you go can help alleviate mindless eating, or eating something just because it is there.
Another option would be to have certain boundaries around when you indulge in a treat. Perhaps you only have treats during weekend celebrations, as opposed to eating treats all week long every time you go to the pool. Having boundaries can actually help give us freedom when it is time to go to a party. We know our goals, we have boundaries around how to get there, and we can really let loose and enjoy ourselves every once and a while because of that.
2. Focus on the “big rocks” of health and fitness.
When it comes to health and fitness there are a few huge factors that play a key role: sleep, exercise, and nutrition. Our recommendation when you are going on vacation or have a week of parties coming up is to pick two to focus on. Sleeping is probably the easy one, but on average Americans are undersleeping. The Mayo Clinic recommends adults get at least 7 hours of sleep a night. So use those vacation days to catch up on some much needed rest and recovery. That leaves exercise and nutrition to choose from. Deciding to exercise on vacation will help coming back to the gym be an easy transition and will keep your energy level and mood up. While on vacation you might decide to exchange heavy lifting for a few runs, or add in a long walk after dinner to keep your movement up. If working out on vacation doesn’t sound appealing to you, we recommend focusing on your nutrition. At the bare minimum try to get at least 0.7 grams of protein per pound of bodyweight a day. Protein will keep you full and make sure you are maintaining all that muscle you’ve been working so hard for. Next up, focus on getting at least a cup of fruit and a cup of vegetables at every meal, and limit your dessert.
3. Share your meals & dessert.
It’s no secret that restaurant food often “provide more calories, saturated fat, and sodium than meals prepared at home,”(USDA) so sharing is a great option. You’ll get the satisfaction of trying something new and delicious, while making sure you are keeping your caloric intake under control. The same thing applies to dessert. Instead of each getting your own ice cream, maybe the family shares one and enjoys a few bites each. Oftentimes a few bites is all we need to enjoy it anyways.
4. Sit down to really enjoy your meal and avoid snacks while traveling.
We get it, there’s nothing quite like a good road trip snack to help the time pass, but those snacks can quickly add up and suddenly we have devoured 2,000 calories worth of Chex Mix. This is why making sure that you are sitting down, as distraction free as possible to truly enjoy a meal will help keep those added pounds at bay. Sitting down and focusing on every bite will help you tune into when you are actually full and will help with unwanted snacking.
5. You don’t need to finish your plate.
Restaurant portions are huge and it’s easy to fill our plate too full at a family BBQ. Consider this your permission to not have to finish everything on your plate. If you aren’t absolutely enjoying it, don’t eat it! If you overestimated how hungry you actually were, pass it off. It’s okay to leave some leftovers on your plate. Even better, ask for a to-go box right away so you can take half of it home so that your portions are better controlled right off the bat.
6. Fill up on that delicious summer fruit.
You can go ahead and forget everything you’ve been told about fruit. Because we are here to tell you that it is delicious, good for you and you do not need to limit it! Fruit can be a fantastic alternative to fatty dessert. It’s also a great poolside snack that will help keep you hydrated and full. It has tons of micronutrients and phytonutrients that our bodies need, so eat up!
7. Control your liquid calories.
Downing three lattes a day to keep up with your kids on vacation? Drinking 5 beers by the pool? Both of these can add a significant amount of calories to your day and don’t help us feel full or satiated. Liquid calories can easily pile up because we often aren’t actually aware that we are drinking them, they go down very easily, and they don’t leave us feeling full. Instead, swap out the latte for an americano and perhaps limit your beer count to 2 or swap for a less calorically dense drink.
We hope that these tips help keep you on track this summer, but want to end by saying that at the end of the day life is short and you should enjoy it! A one week vacation will not derail your fitness goals. By following a few of these tips we hope that you can stay a bit more on track and feel great along the way!