Want to know a secret? (I’m going to have to stop telling all my secrets on here. Pretty soon I won’t have anything to write about…) Sometimes (ok, most of the time), the posts I write on here are as much for me as they are for the rest of you out there reading in cyberspace. In a weird way, blogging = free therapy (try it if you don’t believe me). Once I see something written out I can see a) the irrationality of my own thoughts and b) strategies for coping successfully.
So anyway, back when I wrote this post, I touched briefly on how I’ve been counting macros (short for macronutrients: protein, fat and carbs) for a few months now with pretty decent success. Several people reached out to me since, both in person and online, asking for advice/tips, which is equal parts weird/ slightly terrifying and flattering.
We are on the brink of my most favourite season of the year: SUMMER (and all teachers everywhere said AMEN). But, it is also the season where it’s hardest for me to maintain a routine, balanced, healthy diet (I was joking last week that eating only watermelon, ice cream and sangria for two months would be my ideal “summer diet plan”).
I am not for a minute complaining about the glorious two months off I have. But, summer is a season filled with ice cream (my love language, I swear), sangria, Caesars, potlucks, barbecues, parties, and MY BIRTHDAY. And because I’m not working, I am left free to socialize (read: eat/drink) on any given day of the week. If I’m not careful, that can add up pretty weekly, and before I know it, the extra pounds creep on (I don’t think that’s what a “summer bod,” is supposed to mean).
Instead of dreading summer and the “inevitable” weight gain, I’m trying to look at it with a different attitude this year. I am not “doomed” to go back to where I was (and neither are you!), or to stuff my face for two months and be filled with regret after. I CAN enjoy summer, and all of it’s delicious treats, and come out the other side still wearing my tightest short shorts.
I figured that, even if you’re not a teacher, summer can be a tricky season for all of us, so why not share my game plan? The following strategies are good any time you’re going to be facing a vacation or time off, or basically any extended period where you’re a bit out of routine.
- Pick YOUR party. First of all, I want to stress that I am NOT saying to avoid social situations because there won’t be any “good” foods there. I’ve done this way too many times, it’s lame, and not a healthy behaviour, no matter what your goals are. What I mean is, if you have a party at the end of the week where you know the food will be amazing and you’re celebrating something important, don’t freak out if something else food-related comes up a few days prior. Go, but be selective/eat before. It might be someone else’s party, and you can show up and celebrate without stuffing your face. Enjoy the people, and save those indulgences for when you planned.
- Rearrange your day. If you’re going out to eat, chances are you’ll be treating yourself to something that’s higher in carbs and fat. Meaning that the rest of your meals should be lower in these nutrients and higher in protein. In practical terms: try and plan your other meals around high quality, lean protein (chicken, eggs, Greek yogurt, etc) and some non-starchy veggies. That way, an ice cream cone doesn’t have to derail things so much. I’ve used this approach over the last little while and found that it makes a big difference – both in how I feel after a more indulgent meal (less stuffed) and in the fact that one meal won’t set me off track as much if I’ve adjusted leading up to it.
- Savour the summer sun and work it out. As hard as it can be to eat healthy during the summer, one thing I find easier is getting in extra physical activity. I LOVE being outside, and, since I have more time, I walk places whenever I can. I don’t think you should feel like you have to “earn” your food by working out, but if you know you’ll be eating/drinking more, it can’t hurt, right?
- Water. Speaking of drinking more, this is non-negotiable for me (year round, but especially during the hotter summer months). If I know I’m going to be drinking something other than water at a meal, that’s fine, but I make sure to pre-hydrate with the same amount of water (2 big glasses) I would usually drink. And if I’m drinking alcohol, wherever possible, I try to pace myself with a glass of water in between each drink. Think about it – have you ever stopped and said to yourself, “man, I wish I drank less water?” Yeah, didn’t think so.
- Give yourself grace, and a little latitude. If you’re working hard, building healthy habits day in and day out, one bad night is probably not going to wreck you. Heck, you might even be ok after a couple of days or a week vacation (provided you remember #1-4). So just do me a favour and chill out, ok? And as for the latitude, what I mean is, look at summer for what it is: FUN. It’s a time to enjoy the beautiful weather and relax with friends, not become a stress case because you’re eating too many “bad” things. It’s ok to decide that weight loss/maintenance/whatever is not your primary goal. Enjoy your celebrations with friends, and if you feel like you need to, your dietary goals can be on the back burner for awhile. Provided you have a healthy baseline, a couple of pounds up won’t kill you, and they’ll come off quickly once you get back to routine.
- Find a new story. Too often I find myself playing the soundtrack of “you can’t do this. You’re doomed. You’re going to fail. You’re falling into old habits…” in my head, something I’m really trying to stop. I’m a big believer that the stories we tell ourselves make a big difference in our outcome. So if you’re feeding yourself a bunch of discouraging lies on repeat, chances are you might start buying in. What if you replace those fear-based failure predictions with reminders of past successes? I’m often cheering others on by telling them “you got this.” What if I used that line on myself and believed it? Now there’s a story I can get behind!
- Keep calm and summer on. Take a deep breath. Read over the list above. Give yourself some credit – you totally CAN do this. You won’t be perfect. You’ll mess up. But you will have an awesome summer (or vacation, or whatever), enjoy time with family and friends, and some amazing eats and drinks too; and come out the other side ok.
…if you need me, I’ll be eating ice cream for dinner (but don’t worry, I had a salad for lunch)… 😉 #workingonthatsummerbod #balance
…also if anyone can figure out how to make my watermelon/sangria/ice cream diet a thing, let me know!