Summer is here, and for many individuals that means barbecues, beaches and bodacious bods.
But, summer can also be a time for vacations and a “loosening of the reins” on diet and exercise, leading many people to abandon their healthy habits they adopted at New Year’s and gain weight.
Fortunately, you can still enjoy summer festivities without sacrificing your hard-earned progress!
Here are 7 strategies to make your healthy habits stick and maintain or improve your current health & fitness.
#1 Choose Wisely at Summer Cookouts
Summertime is also the time many of us break out the grill and get together for barbecues, where there is no shortage of food that is both highly delicious and packed with calories (e.g. ribs, hot dogs, bbq sauce, cole slaw, etc.).
If you want to enjoy yourself without sacrificing the rest of the effort you’ve put in during the week, make sure to choose wisely when it’s time to chow down.
Now, you don’t have to be a monk at get-togethers and bring your own grilled chicken and rice tupperware container. You can still partake of the party fare and enjoy the company of others, but you do need to be smart with your food selections.
Opt for leaner offerings -- grilled lean meats instead of hot dogs/sausages, fresh or grilled veggies instead of potato salad or coleslaw (both of which are laden with mayo), fresh fruit instead of cake.
If you’re in a situation where you aren’t the one doing the cooking, offer to bring a side dish, such as a fresh fruit (watermelon is a great summertime treat) or fresh veggies and hummus. This way you can be sure there’s at least one healthy option at the BBQ.
If all else fails and there’s absolutely no “healthy” options, remember that it’s only one meal on one day. Provided you practice moderation, you won’t derail your results.
Getting results is about consistency over the long-term, a blip here or there on an otherwise healthy eating plan won’t adversely affect your results one bit.
Finally, if you want to be extra sure that you’re still sticking to your goals, log what you eat at the BBQ on the 1UP Fitness App, which allows you to quickly and easily enter the foods you eat as well as the ability to track calories and macros.
#2 Watch Your Alcohol Intake
There’s no getting around it. Summer is hot, and many of us (especially at cookouts and BBQs) crack open a cold beer or fire up the blender for a batch of frozen strawberry margaritas or pina coladas. While these beverages can certainly help combat the heat of summer, they’re also packed with calories (far more than most people realize).
If you choose to imbibe, opt for low-calorie offerings like vodka and soda water, whiskey and diet cola, light beers, or a margarita with tequila and a squeeze of lime and fresh-squeeze orange juice.
It’s also a good idea to make sure you’re staying properly hydrated, all the more so if you’re outdoors while drinking, as the heat and alcohol can dehydrate you. A good practice is to have one glass of water for every “adult” beverage you have. If you’re not a fan of plain water, have a glass of unsweetened iced tea, sparkling water, or mix up a serving of amino acids in a shaker bottle.
In addition to keeping you hydrated, this also helps you from over-indulging on mixed drinks and bbq, which helps you stay on track with your goals.
#3 Limit Sources of Liquid Calories
Alcoholic beverages are one source of “empty” liquid calories in the diet, but they’re not the only ones. Juices, gourmet coffees, energy drinks, sports drinks, and smoothies are all sources of liquid calories that don’t do much to fill you up yet they take a considerable chunk out of your daily energy needs.
That triple venti mocha-infused iced coffee with double whip might sound like just the thing to boost your energy and cool you off on a hot summer day, but it’s got as much (if not more) sugar than a super-sized soda at the corner fast food joint.
A better option is to make it yourself at home, whatever “it” may be...iced coffee, smoothies, juices, etc. You’ll save on calories and money! If you need help figuring out how to make your frosty beverage, there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of recipes online for free showing you how to make it step-by-step.
#4 Avoid Extremes
“Everything in moderation” is a mantra that has stood the test of time. The reason for this, in part at least, is that extremes in any area of life rarely are sustainable.
For instance, it’s popular right now (and for the past couple of years) for people to completely eschew all manner of carbohydrates in an effort to lose weight rapidly. And, sure enough, they do lose weight. But, it’s not because there’s something magical about removing carbohydrates from the diet (they don’t automatically cause you to gain weight). It’s because by removing carbohydrates from the diet, you’ve lowered your calorie intake to the point where you have created a calorie deficit, and the result of a sustained calorie deficit is weight loss.
While this may work for a few weeks, it’s not a sustainable approach for most individuals. Eventually, these same people go back to eating carbohydrates and regain all of the weight they lost. Remember, being fit and healthy isn’t about adopting extreme exercise or diet protocols for the short term. It’s about building sustainable habits that you can carry with you for the rest of your life.
Along these lines, a more realistic and sustainable (not to mention effective) way to lose weight is to simply track your calories using the 1UP Fitness App. You can calculate how many calories you need to lose weight and then log the foods you eat each day to make sure you stay at or below that number, and thus get the results you want.
#5 Not Fueling Properly
Summer (as well as spring) is a time when many of us hit the outdoors for exercise, whether it be hiking, biking, walking, or doing a bodyweight workout at the park.
It’s important to remember to fuel up properly. Training outdoors can increase how many calories you’re burning as well as how much you’re sweating, which can increase your water and electrolyte needs.
As such, make sure you’re fueling your body properly by consuming enough high quality foods -- lean protein, fruits, veggies, whole grains, healthy fats, water, and essential vitamins and minerals (electrolytes).
#6 Be Accountable
It’s no secret that we’re more likely to do something (and thus, be successful) when we’re held accountable, either to ourselves or to others (coach, mentor, gym buddy, etc.).
Having someone to “report” to can provide the necessary “push” you need to get s*** done.
Now, you’re ultimately responsible for your behavior, but that added measure of accountability to be the difference between getting results and miring in mediocrity.
This is why so many individuals sign up for our transformation challenge. They are joining a group of like-minded individuals that can provide support and motivation when the going gets tough. Plus, when you sign up for our 8-week transformation challenge and download the 1UP Fitness app, you also get access to our private Facebook group where you can interact with others for added motivation as well as support from team 1UP.
#7 Find Balance
So often, when we’re in a hurry to get results, we seek out quick-fixes and/or extremes with the hope that these will bring us fulfillment and/or help us crush our transformation challenge.
But, the reality is that neither extreme measures nor perceived “quick-fixes” will deliver the results or happiness you seek.
Life is about balance, moderation, consistency, and hard work.
Foods don’t need to be labeled as “good” or “bad”. Workouts aren’t about “burning fat” or “toning.”
Take a step back and look at the bigger picture.
Focus on eating more high-quality nutritious foods, sticking to your calorie/macronutrient goals, staying active, and building strength. Do this consistently, and the occasional slice (or two) of pizza or scoop of ice cream won’t cause you to stress or deprive yourself of food for days on end.