Well, it’s certainly been a tough year – no doubt you’re desperate for a break and looking forward to enjoying all that is wonderful about the Kiwi Summer – BBQs, the beach, family and friends.
And the great news is that sunshine and happy times do help boost mood, which helps with weight loss. But let’s be honest…the holidays also bring challenges when you’re trying to keep on track with weight loss.
With some planning you can enjoy your Summer without sabotaging your weight loss. Let’s talk about some strategies for getting through summer without adding kilos to those scales.
Set a mini summer goal
With a New Year fast approaching you might be thinking about weight loss goals for 2022, but for now, it can be helpful to set a Summer of 2021 goal. Keep this goal sensible, attainable and measurable. If you leave your new weight loss goal until the New Year, you can end up adding even more calories that you then have to work harder to lose. Start now with a mini goal.
When you are setting your Summer goal take into consideration all the extra pressures the summer will bring but also all the advantages a holiday allows. For example, it’s true that you might have more social engagements around food but you also have more time to prepare healthy meals and to exercise.
Your mini goal might be a weight target – “to lose x kilos before heading back to work” or it might be a physical goal “to be able to walk 2km” or it might be a social goal “to go to a BBQ without over eating”. Choose a goal which excites you and one that is achievable. If you make your goal too lofty it can be discouraging and make it more likely you give up; so choose a goal that you know you can achieve.
Remind yourself daily of your WHY
Every time you head out to a function these holidays, remind yourself WHY you want to lose weight. Write your reason on your mirror, or stick a Post-it note on your beach bag or by your car keys – so when you head to the event your WHY is at the forefront of your mind.
Holidays mean long days relaxing but free time can easily become opportunities for overeating. Being aware that you might be tempted to overeat, with so much free time on your hands, can help you strategise to minimise this trigger.
If you know you gravitate towards the kitchen if you are bored then plan some activities (days at the beach or a bike ride) or organise to do some jobs around the house. Setting tasks to accomplish during the break means you have something you can do if you find yourself at a loose end and reaching for the biscuits. Plan to read 5 books, learn a song on the guitar, take up knitting, plant a vegetable garden. Keeping busy will also boost your mood and give you a great sense of accomplishment – both things that help with weight loss.
Before you head to that BBQ or drinks, make a plan – decide what you’ll eat, how much and how you will stick to the plan. Being fully armed with a detailed plan provides you with the weapons you’ll need to fight temptation. For example, if you’re heading to a BBQ, you might decide beforehand that you won’t eat any bread, that you will have 2 scoops of salad, and choose steak instead of sausages. Deciding ahead of time means you don’t have to weigh it up in the moment- you just need to stick to the plan. It makes it much easier to resist temptation.
If you are attending work drinks you might plan to have 2 glasses of wine and have 3 canapes. Once you have eaten what you planned, switch to sparkling water and keep your mouth busy sipping on water and chatting with colleagues. You might also like to take a peppermint or some chewing gum to pop in your mouth after you’ve reached your planned intake to make it more difficult to deviate from the plan.
Don’t set goals too ambitious that you ruin your events, or too hard that you can’t achieve them, but giving yourself some guidelines for functions can help to keep you on track so you don’t have any regrets the next day.
Prepare what you’ll say
Sometimes friends can make sticking to the plan difficult. Peer pressure to eat and drink can make it hard and can undermine your weight loss.
Not everyone is on the same page as you, not everyone is as focused and determined. Sometimes those who are closest to us can actually sabotage our weight loss. Prepare yourself so you can stay strong even in the face of pressure.
Once you have decided where you will draw the line in terms of eating and drinking, practice what you will say when the work colleague gets pushy with topping up your wine glass, or when family try to insist you have ‘just one piece of pavlova”. Having a repertoire of “No thanks, I’ve had enough”, “No thanks, I’m good” or simply “No thanks”, is helpful and essential. Don’t allow others’ lack of discipline or forceful nature derail you. It is your right to put your health and weight loss goals first.
Offer to bring a plate
It can be helpful to offer to bring a plate to functions, so you know there will be a healthy, low calorie option for you, even if everything else is high in calories. By bringing a yummy summer salad you know you will have something to eat that helps keep you on track.
Shop in season
Summer is the most wonderful time for fresh, delicious fruit and vegetables. And, with the extra time, you can have fun making some gorgeous salads. Try to buy the majority of your food from the outside aisles of the supermarket. The fruit, vegetables, fresh meat and dairy are the most healthy. Try and limit what you buy from the inside aisles because they are more likely to be high in calories, preservatives, sugar and salt. Fresh is best. Try adding citrus, garlic, ginger and fresh herbs to your salads instead of creamy dressings.
Summer is the perfect time to get outside and move. Try to incorporate passive exercise (walking to the shops to buy the milk instead of taking the car) as well as proactive exercise (going for a walk each evening). You can also have fun with backyard cricket, tennis, gardening. You might like to try and incorporate exercise into your functions – arrange to play beach cricket after the family Christmas lunch, or meet a friend for a walk instead of a wine.
Playing with your kids is also a great way to burn extra calories and invest in your family – jump on the tramp, splash in the sea, throw the ball. Exercising not only burns calories but will also distract you from overeating.
Weigh yourself daily
A daily check in can be especially helpful during this difficult season. It means you can keep a track of how you are going and pull back on the treats if the scales begin bouncing up. It avoids a ‘head in the sand’ mentality, which can lead to weight gain. Better to know how your weight is going so you can keep in control. Research has shown that people who weigh in every day and then act accordingly, (either by increasing their exercise or being stricter about their eating) are 82 percent less likely to regain lost weight than those who don’t weigh in as often.
Pick and Choose
Having a few treats during the holidays is part of the joy of the season, but decide ahead of time where you want to spend your calories. Avoid racking up the calories on food that doesn’t bring you joy – choose your indulgences wisely. Save the calories for special, meaningful food (for example you may decide to pass on the cheese before dinner so you can enjoy your mother’s famous roast potatoes). Don’t mindlessly eat boring calories – choose food that brings you joy.
Another good idea is if you know you’ll have a big event, bank some calories throughout the day. Don’t make yourself too hungry, but by minimising the calories you have for breakfast and lunch for example, you have a bit more buffer for the BBQ dinner or the evening drinks. Remember not to use this as an excuse to overeat – you still need to be careful and mindful, but it will allow you to prioritise some calories for special occasions.
Watch the Alcohol
A cold beer at a BBQ is one of summer’s greatest pleasures but alcohol can often seriously trip us up.
Just remember that one glass of wine has 125 calories; cocktails and beer have even more, so over an evening, you could easily drink almost your entire calorie allowance. Of course, enjoy a glass or two but don’t let it undermine your weight loss. We all know that the first sip is always the best anyway, so don’t ruin all the hard work by drinking away your gains.
Offer to drive – this gives you an excuse not to over drink, which seriously curbs your calorie intake, leaving some room for a few nibbles. It also saves you money on drinks and an Uber!
If you are drinking, try to choose low sugar, low alcohol options. Gin and diet tonic or low alcohol beer for example. Also, try to alternate alcoholic drinks with a sugar free, nonalcoholic drink (soda water or diet soft drinks).
Not only is alcohol full of calories but it also stimulates your appetite, as well as diminishing your ability to say no and make wise food choices. So try to keep it to a minimum.
It’s also important to remember that one slip up does not need to be the end of the world. lf you do make an unhealthy choice, don’t let it totally derail you. Just because you ate a few pieces of christmas cake doesn’t mean you should eat the whole thing. You can recover from a slip up by getting back in control with the next bite. Don’t wait until the new year or even tomorrow. If you let yourself down, choose the very next mouthful to get back on track.
You really deserve to have an amazing summer, and part of making it amazing is making sure you care for yourself and your health. You don’t want to face the New Year having to undo the damage done over the holidays. You’re on this journey for a reason, that reason is important. Feeling healthy and good about yourself is important.