1. Don’t decide to go on an extreme diet because it is summer. Extreme diets don’t work. Cutting out ALL carbs, avoiding fruits, or giving up suddenly ALL meats isn’t going to help you lose weight for the long haul. Instead, try cutting back in small ways…avoiding desserts, trying not to snack between meals, and drinking water before you eat a snack just in case you are actually thirsty -not really hungry at all.
2. Don’t be tempted to pull into fast food drive-throughs while out with kids. Summer is usually a time when schedules are more lax but kids sports and camp activities really pick up. Don’t be tempted while out with the kids to do the fast food thing!! Waiting a few more minutes until you get home and can fix something there is worth it. Even peanut butter and jelly is better than a fast food burger and fries! I do have to admit that some of the fast food restaurants offer fairly healthy salads…but they can be expensive for what you get…and your child’s leftover fries and Frosty are still just as tempting!
3. Don’t ignore the fruit and vegetable stands all around you. Most of us pass some kind of fresh fruit stand fairly regularly during summer months (if not, the local grocery stores are full of fresh fruits and veggies). Stop by on a regular basis to see what items are available fresh from a local farm! My favorites are seedless watermelon, vine-ripe tomatoes, and South Carolina peaches.
4. Don’t stock fridge with processed foods for the kids to grab as a snack. Whatever we have on hand for kids is often what we grab, so be careful about what is on hand! It is cheaper to stock the fridge with summer fruits (peaches, plums, grapes) and veggies (carrots and celery). My kids swim competitively and they do “doubles” in the summertime. Consequently they are “starving” in between sessions. While shopping I often make the mistake of picking out “easy” foods like frozen pizzas and Mac-and-cheese because I know hungry kids will be at my house. Just as easy are the summer fruits, wholegrain breads or pitas, and Greek yogurts. I recently cut up lots of carrots, cauliflower, and celery and put them in a huge bowl with some ice cubes. I was amazed at how my kids pulled out that bowl like it was a plate of cookies! They grabbed the bottle of ranch dressing (I know…not so healthy…but considering the veggies they were dipping into it…okay) and started “snacking” without any complaints! Amazing!
5. Don’t give up on a workout schedule because it is summer. Most of us have at least slightly altered schedules in the summer months. It is easy to put exercise aside because we are trying to fit other things in…but we need exercise all year long! Fight the temptation to give yourself an excuse, and instead change around your schedule to fit in regular workouts. The sun rises early so we should too…an early am run is a great way to beat the real heat and get ahead of your day and your schedule! A word of caution however…you WILL be tired later in the day…a consequence you may have to weigh.
6. Don’t make brownies and cookies with the kids. Please don’t get me wrong…baking with kids is a wonderful thing to do. However, when trying to lose weight it is best to avoid the things that are tempting. We would be robots to not be at least slightly tempted by cookie dough or freshly baked brownies. Choose another way to bond…making smoothies or homeade pizzas, or doing some kind of summer craft, instead of tempting yourself with sugary foods. I speak from a recent experience with a homeade berry pie and some boxed brownie mix. You will have to just trust me on this.
7. Don’t ignore the grill. Grilling foods can be a healthier way to eat them and a way to avoid sauces and casseroles which can be fattening. Chicken, salmon, and even some lean cuts of steak can be the center of a healthy meal along with cut-up watermelon, fresh corn-on-the-cob and a large salad.
8. Don’t be tempted by low-fat frozen dinners. These frozen meals are usually high in sodium and preservatives, and will likely leave you hungry anyway. You might as well eat a larger meal from scratch and make it healthier, and maybe even lower in fat. If you find yourself wanting something quick, there are plenty of grocery stores that sell fresh pizzas for just a little more than the frozen variety. Frankly one slice of veggie pizza and a salad is a better alternative to a frozen meal!
9.Dont forget the Rule of 70! I believe losing or maintaining weight is 70% what we eat and 30% what we do (exercise). One common mistake we make is to overcompensate for calories burned by exercise with EXTRA calories from food and beverages. Remember it takes a lot longer to lose weight by exercising alone than by nutrition alone. A combination of the two is always the best bet, but keep in mind that exercise also makes us hungry and we need to be careful about how we refuel ourselves after a workout (all day, in fact). Summer can actually be a great time to lose weight because with the added heat and humidity we usually aren’t hungry for rich or heavy foods. Lighter fare such as salads and summer fruits are abundant. So take advantage of the season!
Don’t forget these tips and let us know what your tips are for maintaining or losing weight this summer!