We all know summer time is full of vacations, cook outs, road trips, family reunions, birthday parties and more. No day or week is ever the same, so your workouts and meals are can’t be either! How are we supposed to stick with a healthy eating and exercise routine when our lives aren’t even following some sort of schedule? Its not always easy, but by implementing small changes and little, new daily habits, you can achieve a healthy balance each day while working with your always varying summer days!
1. Eat before you go: Before you go to a cook out, birthday party or dinner out at a restaraunt, have a small snack. If you haven’t eaten in several hours you may find your tummy rumbling well before your next meal will be served. When we are starving going into any meal, we often make less healthy choices (think going for a large serving of potato salad rather than the leafy greens) and excessively overeat. However, if you eat a small snack before you may be able to tame the hunger so you aren’t ravenous at the dinner table. Some of my favorite snacks include: a piece of fruit, handful of nuts, hummus and carrots, 1 cup of yogurt, whole wheat crackers with guacamole, small side salad, 1 cheese stick, 1 cup cottage cheese, celery with peanut butter or 2 hardboiled eggs.
2. Pack healthy snacks: When headed out on a long road trip or even just running errands around town for the day, its always wise to pack healthy snacks to keep on hand! Often when traveling, we get hungry and settle for whatever convenience store option is closest. This often leads to poor snacking choices! So instead of settling for the quickest fast food or gas station fix, bring your own pre-packed options. Some of my favorites are portioned out bags of nuts, homemade trail mix, pretzels, apple sauce squeeze pouches, Lara or Kind bars, an apple or whole wheat crackers with peanut butter. Get creative! Think of anything you can bring that will stay fresh in your purse or duffel bag that provides valuable nutrients to fuel your busy, active day!
3. Look up the menu: Whether you are out of town or just headed out to dinner for a night with some friends, one of my major suggestions is to look at the menu before. No matter where you end up eating- anywhere from Fleming’s to Taco Bell- you can find healthy options if you seek them out! To do so, I encourage you to stick to the three main food groups and build a meal accordingly. Seek out the basics- carbs (fruit/vegetable/grain), protein (fish/beans/chicken/beef) and fat (oil/dressing/butter). If you can identify these in each meal you are probably doing pretty good! It’s best to provide our bodies with a variety and a balance of macronutrients to keep ourselves full and energized all day long. By looking at the menu before hand, you can identify what the restaraunt has to offer and decide what you plan to order. This way you wont be overwhelmed when arriving at the restaraunt or easily persuaded by your dining peers! When you have an idea of what you want, you are more likely to stick with actually ordering and eating that healthier option. Another tip- when ordering, order first! This way you wont be influenced by your friends to change your meal choice to the less nutritious option. (I will go into more detail on healthy options to make at resturants soon, so stay tuned!)
4. Bring a healthy option for everyone to share: If you are heading to a cook out, dinner party or family get together, offer to bring food! The best way to ensure there will be healthy options (at least one) available is to make it and bring it yourself. Offer to bring an appetizer, salad, side dish or dessert for everyone to share. Some go-to ideas are whole wheat chips/crackers with salsa or guacamole, carrots/cucumbers/peppers with hummus, cheese and crackers, mixed greens salad, baked/roasted mixed vegetables or a fresh fruit salad. Most people won’t turn down your offer to contribute a dish to the meal!
5. Be flexible: Eating healthy doesn’t have to be 100% perfect all the time. Flexibility is the key to maintaining a healthy diet and your sanity! When you can, choose nutrient dense options. However, it is okay to enjoy some treats every now and then- especially when on vacation or out with friends. Maybe you plan to have a turkey sandwich for lunch but your friend calls you up and invites you to her favorite burger joint. Well that is okay! A burger can provide the carbs, fats and proteins that the turkey sandwich would. You don’t need to stick to your planned out meals all the time. That makes life stressful and less enjoyable! In the end, your health and weight depend on the majority of your food choices, not the small spontaneous meals out with friends! However, your happiness and relationships depend on those small flexible meals with friends and family.
6. Allow for treats: It’s no fun to be the one person turning down that novelty dessert at the end of an elaborate restaraunt dinner or your best friend's homemade cake at the neighborhood cookout! Be flexible and forgiving- allow yourself to savor a few bites of that “not so nutritious” choice because, in the end, that one dessert wont impact your health or weight significantly. Like I said, your health and weight is not dependent on those small flexible treats. It depends on what you eat on a normal, daily basis. A small treat every now and then is not detrimental to your overall health! But it could be detrimental to your happiness.
7. Make an effort to get your “3 and 5”: Whether you are at home, the beach or across the country, one way to ensure you are eating well enough is to check in with your overall food consumption and ask if you have consumed your 3 and 5 for the day. By this I mean 3 servings of fruit (apple juice and strawberry ice cream don’t count) and 5 servings of vegetables (French fries don’t count either). Consuming the minimum amount of non-processed, fresh or lightly cooked fruits and vegetables ensures that you are getting an adequate amount of vitamins and minerals that the body needs each day to run optimally and prevent illness.
8. Monitor your drinks: I don’t necessarily mean alcoholic drinks (although its smart to monitor those too). I’m mostly talking about considering what you are drinking on a normal basis, throughout the whole day. Are you consuming the recommended minimum of 8-8 ounce servings of water each day? How many sodas do you drink per day or week? Fruit juice? If you’re at a party, how many refills have you had of the fruit punch or alcoholic beverage? It’s absolutely okay and normal to have one or maybe even two fun drinks! But after that, it may be time to switch to water because the calories, sugar and alcohol in those beverages will add up!
9. Incorporate small bouts of exercise: People tend to be pretty good at getting regular workouts in when life is running on schedule, but when random events pop up, workouts tend to fall to the wayside. And that is absolutely okay! Working out should never be your number one priority in life. But even if you can’t get a full on workout in, you can still find ways to incorporate additional movement into each day. Try parking further away from the store or restaraunt to get some extra steps, take the stairs rather than the elevator, do push ups, squats or other body weight movements in your hotel room, go for a walk around the new city you are visiting or down the beach at sunset! Any small addition is beneficial and will add up over time. A 60-minute spin class or weight session is not always required to stay “in shape”!
10. Enjoy the company: When surrounded by friends and family, you should be focusing on just that. There is no need to always be thinking of how you “should” be eating, moving or how your body should be shaped. When you are with others, I encourage you to mentally choose to be present in that moment! It doesn’t matter if you aren’t necessarily making the most nutritious food choice at this moment, but it does matter that you are nourishing your valuable relationships in life! Learn that sometimes its okay and possibly even better to focus on the friends and not the food.
Using these 10 tips, you can work to achieve a healthy, balanced eating and fitness routine during the busiest of summer seasons. I encourage you to work on these, maybe only one at a time! I guarantee you won’t regret implementing these small changes.
-Happy Eating! Kristin-