We tend to think that unwanted weight gain only occurs in the winter when we’re less active and eating heavier meals. The summer months are also laden with traps and temptations that can just as easily lead to a bigger waistline. You can avoid the battle of the bulge while fully enjoying all that summer has to offer by implementing some tried-and-true best practices.
First, identify what you’re going to be doing this summer and plan accordingly. For example, will you be working full time or taking some time off work? Will you be travelling or taking a staycation? Think about your situation, how much down time you’ll have in the coming months and how that might impact your dietary habits and exercise routine.
Next, consider your level of physical activity. Is it working well for you? Do you feel energetic and fit or lethargic and depressed; or somewhere in between? Are you at a healthy weight? Do a bit of self-assessment and honest introspection and if you’re not feeling your best physically or mentally and there’s room for improvement, consider increasing your physical activity level even just by a bit. Small improvements to your lifestyle can add up over the summer and yield measurable results beyond your waistline.
Once you’ve identified where you’ll be and established your current and desired activity level, give some thought to how you’ll incorporate exercise or sports into your routine as well as when you take a break from your routine. For example, if you’ll be travelling for a few weeks, is walking while sightseeing your strategy for staying fit? Although walking is very healthy, it may not be enough to counteract the extra calories that go hand-in-hand with vacations. Whether at home or on the road, restaurant portion sizes are typically larger and the ingredients may be more decadent and unhealthier compared to what you’re accustomed to eating at home. If you’ve experienced unwanted weight gain on a previous trip that included lots of walking, choose a different strategy. If you’ll be spending your time off work in town, consider limiting how often you dine out.
Even with the busiest of itineraries, you can schedule time to work out at the gym in your hotel or on your cruise. If there’s no gym, you can work out without any special equipment wherever you stay. You can swim if there’s a pool or lake. Get inspired with some workout videos before you go on your trip, and make a list of a few fundamental exercises you can do anywhere, anytime (push-ups, lunges, squats, etc.). Even if the added exercise doesn’t burn a huge amount of calories (it really depends how intensely you work out and what you do), you’ll gain the health benefits of exercising. Realistically speaking, it’s very difficult to burn off hundreds or even thousands of extra daily calories.
An alternative strategy is to prevent weight gain by being more mindful of your eating habits. You’ll probably want to sample the culinary delights when you’re in some faraway, exotic destination. Even if you’re close to home, perhaps camping or staying at a cottage, you can make some smart choices. Will you typically go for s’mores and hotdogs or clean foods like grilled fish? Focus on moderation, not total deprivation. Enjoy occasional treats if that’s what makes you happy, keeping in mind that you may feel disappointed in yourself if you consistently over-indulge and your clothing is too tight by Labour Day.
Ice cream, sodas or alcoholic coolers in the summertime means lots of sugar. Frozen yogurt often has more sugar than ice cream. When you drink lots of beer, your liver metabolizes the alcohol and processes the alcohol’s calories instead of metabolizing and burning fat cells. One bottle of beer contains between 100 (light beer) and 200 calories. If you have a couple of cold ones almost every day in July and August, you can gain three to seven pounds just from the beer. Eliminate most saturated fat, sugar, salt and high-calorie foods by holding the mayo and avoiding commercially-prepared salad dressings and barbeque sauces; grill lean meats, fish and chicken instead of ribs and hotdogs; top lean burgers with veggies instead of mounds of cheese and skip the bun or choose whole grain.
With a bit of thought and some consistency in your actions, you can avoid the hidden pitfalls of summer and maintain or achieve a trim figure.