We’re in the peak of summer, and this time of the year (besides Christmas & NYE) is a time when it’s very easy to gain some excess weight. All of a sudden life becomes all about holidays, travels and socializing – and that results in more eating and drinking. Let’s not forget how disruptive this time of the year can be on your usual routine. It’s tempting to be lazier in the heat, skip the gym and eat way too many ice-creams.
So how can we stay healthy during a period where our routine is disrupted and most nights are spent eating out? I have some ideas for you.
1. Don’t let yourself go.
Okay, let me start with the most obvious cliché first. Don’t let yourself go completely. I’m all about indulging and giving ourselves a bit of a break, especially when we’re on holiday – but that doesn’t mean stuffing yourself with croissants for breakfast and remove the word exercise from your vocabulary.
Remember the second cliche: “It’s all about balance”. It’s okay to relax on your holiday and not be so strict with your regime. But only to a certain extent, without pushing it to the point it will result in weight gain. A kilo or two is normal to gain on holiday, but not five (or, God forbid, more!). You see my point. Enjoy your summer, but still act responsibly. You don’t want to hate your body and the sluggish state of it, that’s just not worth stuffing yourself for.
2. Plan ahead.
If you know you will be eating out that day, make sure you go to the gym or do some form of exercise. The really worst is having big lunches and dinners when you’re on holiday, and no movement of your body what so ever. The excess weight will come immediately (if your metabolism is slow or normal).
You might not lose weight on this trip, but you sure won’t gain anything, and it might be worth sweating 30-60 minutes in a gym for. At this stage, any form of training works – even if you’re only doing a sad 20 minute power walk. Better than no power walk!
3. Eat only half the portion
…In some cases only a few bites. Do you really realize how fattening restaurant food is? Let’s not even mention takeaways. The portions are huge, especially if you’re in the US (hey, you’re not eating for two!) Restaurants add so much butter and oil to their food to make it taste better, and that turns into extra calories you never notice.
Always make a rule for yourself to leave food behind on your plate. See it as an act of elegance. It’s never attractive seeing a girl licking her plate to the last drip, you rather be someone who’s not starving or a total overeater – you rather be a lady who is mindful with how much she eats and is not shy to leave food behind.
Don’t treat yourself as a rubbish bin just because you feel you have to finish what’s left on your plate. That’s just childhood programming gone wrong. Leave food behind as you’re not a rubbish bin. Value your body and yourself higher than a dumpster for food.
4. Become a complicated eater
These days everyone is on some crazy diet or have food intolerances, and actually – that’s a blessing in disguise for your figure. Convert to some diet or create an imaginary food intolerance for you to reduce tempting options when you’re eating outside of your home.
Having a few restrictions and trying to stick to them can help you skip that juicy bacon burger and instead munch on a healthy garden salad when you’re trying to be vegan on weekends. Your excess weight will drop, I can promise you!
5. No carbs. Nothing fried. Low-fat. Low sodium.
Become a complicated eater part two. It’s absolutely fine being annoying in restaurants with all kinds of requests. Honestly, they’re used to it, especially in recent years when everyone is on some kind of diet/allergy. So this is your moment of having food cooked exactly the way you know is better for your health and body.
Make it, as a rule, to never have any carbs with your meal. No fingers in the bread-basket no matter how hungry you are! Ask to swap the french fries/rice/potatoes whatever – with vegetables, preferably steamed. I always order steamed spinach or broccoli because I love the taste (or learned to love it over the years).
Always ask if there is butter in the dish and how they prepare it (oil/butter). Ask if the chef can prepare it with less fat and use olive oil instead of butter. And if you’re really hardcore, ask for low-sodium too.
If you’re eating a salad, make it as a rule to get your dressing on the side, or skipping the dressing all-together (just add some lemon juice & olive oil). And when you place your order, skip anything fried and dive straight into the grilled dishes (or steamed).
6. Drink less alcohol
I guess this one is a no-brainer. But really, don’t drink just out of habit. Drink because you really, really feel like having that glass of wine, not because you’re a person of habit and who is ordering it without even thinking twice. Start thinking twice. Start being a picky person. That shows you’re classy and selective.
And for god’s sake, never drink cocktails filled with loads of sugar. Never order a Pina Colada, that’s about 700 calories per drink! Stick to alcoholic drinks with fewer calories if you really have to drink. Preferably wine, champagne or a vodka with soda or gin with slimline tonic.
Practice going for dinners without drinking alcohol at times, just to variate and not always add those extra calories. Alcohol has so many calories, and when you drink alcohol with food, your metabolism prioritize burning off the alcohol first, so it’s not going to burn off the food until all alcohol is burned off.
Meaning, there is a good chance parts of the food you eat will go straight to your fat depot. Just for your information. So be selective with how much you drink, and if you have to drink at all.
7. Make your order small
If you’re out eating, you don’t always have to have a starter + main course. You can have starter + starter or just a starter/or main. This is another habit thing we sometimes fall into because a dining experience is set up in this way. Break free from rules and start thinking more about yourself and your needs.
When I’m out and there is not a comfortable occasion of ordering this way, I make sure to have a very light starter (clear soup/salad without dressing/carpaccio) and a very light main (white fish with steamed spinach is my favorite).
8. Skip dessert…
…unless you’re PMS:ing (and might potentially harm someone if you don’t get your chocolate). Since that only happens once or twice a month you can afford it. But be honest with yourself and don’t “accidentally” forget the other night when you ate pie out of boredom while watching tv. Only order dessert if you haven’t had it in a while, once in a while is fine, just make sure it’s not a regular thing!
The rest of the time, if you really need to eat something sweet after your meal, order fruit. I always order a fruit platter, and it’s delicious because high-end restaurants tend to have very high-quality fruits that taste like heaven.
9. Do intermittent fasting
If you have a lunch or dinner, fast until that event and make it your only meal of that day. Like that you can afford it to be a bit bigger than usual, without having to surpass the daily recommended amount of calorie intake. Just be careful when alcohol is involved and you’ve been fasting prior. Always break your fasts with food and never with alcohol.
10. Now stick to it!
All it takes, in the end, is not letting yourself go completely, and be aware of your food & beverage consumption. If you do that, if you take responsibility – you will be safe from the excess weight you’ll have to deal with once summer is over. And we all know, that’s not fun! But try still to enjoy your holidays as much as possible, after all – that’s what they’re there for!