Holiday weekend cookouts and reunions are an inevitable part of life. Let's face it, you can't live in a bubble!
But you may be wondering, "how can I be social and engage with family and friends AND avoid ruining my diet?" I'm glad you asked!
Coach Tam's Top 10 Cookout and Reunion Survival Tips:
1. Bring a “sippy cup”. Show up to the cookout with a 32-oz. water bottle to sip on throughout the gathering. It will help you feel full and keep you hydrated.
2. Think before you drink. When you fix your plate, continue to sip on the water and skip the sweet tea, soda, etc. You'll save 150-400 calories per cup just by making this swap.
3. Use a salad plate. This will force you to make trade off decisions. “I only have room for 3 or 4 things on my plate…do I really want that?”
4. Have only a spoonful of potato salad or macaroni salad. Mayonnaise-based salads are high in fat and calories.
5. Skip the chips. Forego munchies like chips, pretzels, crackers, and any dips that may accompany them. Instead grill corn, peppers, zucchini, squash, asparagus, peppers to get a good dose of healthy carbs. If they are not on the menu, offer to bring them!
6. Go lean. Lean protein - fish, shrimp, chicken breast, turkey burgers, and/or 90% lean ground hamburgers - when seasoned well, taste good and are very filling.
7. Dress it up. Rather than leave your protein naked, pile on lettuce, tomato, onion, mustard, salsa, relish. If you are a cheese lover, use a half of a slice of low fat cheese.
8. Eat your Wheaties. Skipping meals only hurts us in the long run, either by slowing our metabolism or leading you to overeat. Eat a healthy breakfast/snack before the cookout so that you aren't starving when you get there!
9. Practice portion control. Try to limit lean meats to the size of the palm of your hand and fill the rest of your plate with healthy veggies.
10. Enjoy fruit for dessert. Berries and watermelon make great summertime treats. If the dessert table is too enticing to resist, choose ONE item, take the smallest piece, walk away and savor every bite!
Remember, you cannot always control the temptations that will arise, but you can always choose how you will handle them.
Enjoy your time with family and friends!
Until next time,
Date: Tuesday,22 Apr, 2014
Step #3: Refocus
As I shared earlier, what happened last week is the exception not the rule. The same it is with you. You know how to eat healthy. You just have to get back to it.
The next few days I will be very selective about what I eat. Snack foods, processed foods, and alcohol are out. The only baked goods I will allow is 100% whole wheat and even that I will eat sparingly. Instead, I’ll focus on foods that are typically found around the perimeter of the store – you know, whole, real foods like fruits, vegetables and lean meats (chicken, turkey and some cuts of pork and beef). This step is critical to restore balance and ditch those cravings.
Step #4: Rest
As relaxing as vacation days are, sometimes you need a vacation from your vacation! You’re so busy trying to “fit everything in” that it’s easy to return home exhausted. For this reason, catching up on sleep is also a top priority. There are a few reasons for this.
First, when your body is low on sleep, your defenses are down and it becomes easier to make poor eating choices. Second, when you’re tired, you’re less likely to do your workout and if you do, it will likely be at a much lower intensity which means you burn less calories. Third, a lack of sleep also interferes with your metabolism. I could go on and on with this, but I think you get my point. Sleep is the third leg of the stool – diet, exercise, and proper rest are all essential for you to be at your best.
I’ll be aiming for the recommended 7-8 full hours of sleep each night. I encourage you to do the same.
Step #5: Ramp It Up
While I did stick to my commitment to exercise while I was away, it’s time to step it up a bit and work off some of those vacation indulgences. For the next couple of days, I’ll focus on high intensity interval training because it produces the biggest calorie burn in the shortest period of time. On weight training days, I’ll incorporate cardio in between sets – again to maximize my burn.
If you didn’t work out while you were away, then I’d encourage you to ease in slowly. You can start with a 15-20 minute routine for a day or two and then ramp it up to a solid 30+-minute routine.
Well there you have it – the 5 R’s – Renew, Restore, Refocus, Rest and Ramp it Up. Is it simple? Yes. Is it easy? Not quite. But it can be done and YOU can do it!
I went away, ate, drank, relaxed, and then ate some more. I enjoyed a couple of big breakfasts, a few Starbucks indulgences, authentic Italian and even some fried onion rings (love those!) but it wasn’t without a price. When I woke up on Monday morning after several days of not-so-healthy eating, I felt puffy and bloated and my pants were a little tight. Not to mention I felt like crap!
Still, I heeded the principles in my “Help, I’ve Fallen off the Bandwagon and I Can’t Get Up!” blog: I forgave myself, learned from my mistakes, and will plan to do it differently next time. But now, it’s time to pay the piper.
Recovering from a setback isn’t easy. It’s going to require some sacrifices, but it can be done.
Here is my 5 step “Get Back on Track Plan:”
Step #1: Renew
I’ve come to grips with what my overindulgence cost me. I know the depth of the hole that I now have to dig myself out of. I’m not beating myself up about it, but I am being real with myself about the work that lies ahead. I can’t afford to less this continue. The bad eating stops now.
Even when you are serious about your fitness goals, you slip up here and there. You’re not perfect, but in the grand scheme of things, what happened on your vacation is the exception, and not the rule. Remember that you’ve been able to whip yourself back into shape before. You can do it again. You just have to renew your commitment to your goals.
Step #2: Restore
I did drink water while on vacation but not nearly as much as normally do. I enjoyed orange juice, a soda, tea, a couple of lattes and then there were those “other” drinks. It all amounted to a lot of empty calories and dehydration and water retention.
I know it probably sounds crazy that you could be dehydrated and retain water at the same time but trust me, it happens more often than you may think. Coffee, tea, etc. dehydrates the body which in turn triggers water retention. The only way to restore your balance is to get hydrated.
My first priority in getting back on track is to drink plenty of water. I’ll drink a minimum of 16 oz. before I leave the house in the morning and carry a water bottle with me to ensure I get in a total of 8-10 glasses by the end of the day.
In concert with that, everything else – soda, tea, fruit juices, even those cool little flavor packets that I sometimes add to my water are out for the next couple of days. Why? Because artificial sweeteners and stimulants can and most likely would sabotage my hydration efforts. Instead, I’ll add the juice of a fresh lemon or lime, but any fruit will do.
I’m back!!! Vacation was awesome!! I feel rested, refreshed and relaxed, so much so that I had to coach myself to get back to work today :). Hey, even your coach struggles with motivation sometimes. We all do.
Speaking of which, I have a confession to make. Remember how I said in my last post that I planned to maintain my weight while away? Are you ready for that classic line? Here it goes: “What had happened was…I gained 3 pounds!" I know, I know. You probably expect more from your coach but let me explain what happened!
I left Charlotte with good intentions and followed through on them for the first day (Wednesday). I ate a nice healthy turkey sausage and egg white wrap before getting on the road, ate the snacks I packed in transit (a KIND bar and grapes), enjoyed a nice salmon salad for lunch and a lean steak salad for dinner. I was on fire! And then it happened. On Thursday I had absolutely positively no motivation to continue along the path I had started. Have you ever felt that way?
Thursday was my birthday and let’s be clear, I totally planned to enjoy some tasty treats. But I didn’t plan to overdo it at breakfast, lunch, and dinner! I recovered on Friday but then veered off track again on Saturday! By Sunday a part of me was almost sick of eating off plan while the other part wondered what the next tasty dish would be. Have you ever been there? It was like I had the devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other. I hate to tell you that the devil won for the 1st half of the day. I continued to overdo it until returning to Charlotte Sunday afternoon. Ugh. I hate it when that happens!
I know this looks bad but there were a few accomplishments. I did stick to my workout schedule. It just wasn't enough activity to offset what I was eating. Remember: Most of us don't have the time or energy to out exercise a bad diet! But hey, I was proud of myself for not completely abandoning ship. I also forced myself to eat fruit and veggies every day and drink water. In then end, though, it simply wasn't enough to accomplish my goal.
You may be thinking, “How did this happen? You began with the end in mind. You knew exactly what you wanted to accomplish. How then did it all fall apart?” They say hindsight is 20/20 and I have to agree. It was very important that I begin with the end in mind, but I neglected to include a critical step. And because this step is, well, critical, and I skipped it, my entire well intentioned plan fell a part in ONE day.
I had asked myself ALL the right questions except one:
(The Missing Link): Am I willing to make this sacrifice? No (in retrospect, of course).
Here’s the cold hard truth: I wanted the BENEFITS of what I wanted to accomplish, but deep down in my heart I wasn’t WILLING to do the WORK that it required. In the moment of decision, my want for tasty treats outweighed my desire to “look my best.” I lost sight of my why. Instead of focusing on what I wanted in the end, I allowed myself to be ensnared by what I wanted in the moment. Bummer, huh?
Now what? Where do I go from here?
First let me tell you what DIDN’T happen:
Second, what am I going to do now? Well, you’ll have to wait for tomorrow’s post where I will reveal my “getting back on track” plan.
In the meantime, let me share some good news with you: A temporary lapse in judgment is not the end for you. You can recover. How do I know? I’VE BEEN HERE BEFORE and I’M STILL HERE. My lapses didn’t send me spiraling out of control. I survived every last one of them and I’ll survive this one too. And if you’re reading this because you’ve lost control, you can survive too. I’ll show you how.
Today I head to the beach to celebrate my 40th birthday. I am so excited! Not only is the area beautiful and full of attractions, but I am really looking forward to the opportunity to take some real downtime to relax, refresh, and recharge. It is much needed! Side note: When is the last time YOU took some downtime?
One of the things that can be challenging about going away from home is keeping up your healthy routine. It is easy to go on vacation or even business travel and get so distracted that your exercise program and eating plan fall to the wayside. So what do I recommend?
I say the first thing you need to do is schedule a meeting with yourself and decide on your end goal. In other words, when your time on the road is over what do you want to have happened? Do you want to be at the same weight, have lost a little weight, or are you even okay with going up a few pounds (knowing that the extra pounds are a combination of water weight and your body's response to the heavy, salty, or sugary foods that you will be eating, not true fat gain)? By beginning with the end in mind it helps you define what you're going away plan should look like.
For example, if you want to maintain and you plan to enjoy some of the higher calorie foods, you now know that you need to make time for sufficient exercise to balance out your eating. This also means that you will still need to exercise some restraint, because we all know that you can't out exercise a horrible diet. You'll still need to get in your fruit and veggies, water, and lean meats as much as possible but will be able to indulge here and there as long as you exercise portion control.
If your goal is to lose weight, then you know that your eating and exercise habits are going to have to be "on point" just as they would be at home. This means you will have to be extra diligent in ensuring that you have what you need to get in your workouts - whether that is packing your DVDs or arranging a guest membership at a local gym. You may even need to get up super early to ensure it gets done before everyone else wakes up. You'll also need to resist the temptation to choose the "other foods" on the menu. Maybe even pack some health bars or fruit to keep you from doing so. In short, it's going to take planning, preparing and commitment - even more so than you would typically require at home.
If you are okay with going up a little, and I know that that might seem strange that I have listed that as an option, then things are little different. With this approach, what you are effectively deciding is that enjoying the food and company of the people you're with is most important. And here's where I may differ with a lot of experts: I am absolutely positively okay with this and make this decision myself on occasion! Life is to be enjoyed it can't always be so restrictive; I for one believe it's okay to live a little.
Why do I recommend beginning with the end in mind? Because thinking this through in advance means there will be no surprises or disappointment! You know exactly what to expect because you thought through the consequences of your actions before you took them. And because you weighed the options in advance - rather than acting impulsively or going on autopilot -you're much more likely to come up with a decision you can be at peace with not just in the moment, but down the road.
So which option did I decide on? For this trip I'm going with option one. I want to enjoy my time away but also not go up. I have some events coming up over the next couple weeks and want to look my best (yes even the pros have to work to maintain their look). Going up a few pounds won't ruin everything, but it will create a hole that I would need to dig myself out of. And getting out of that hole could take a week or two. I don't want to lose that much time, so I will endeavor to stay focused. The best part is knowing that if I get off track (yes it happens to me too) I know exactly how to get back on track because I've been in that hole so many times before.
That brings me to my last piece of advice: know that no matter what happens it will eventually be oka as long as you don't quit. Nothing is forever. Everything has the potential to change over time.
I'll check back on Monday to let you know how I did!
PS: Even with the "okay to go up" approach, you can't completely abandon ship and do nothing. You still have to get in exercise and get your 8 glasses of water for example. I don't ever recommend that you take a vacation from everything because it's so hard to get back in the swing of things when you do.
PSS: The above three are the only options. You cannot eat whatever you want and not exercise and expect to see no gain or weight loss, that is called delusion. And in case you're thinking "duh!", I hear you, but how many times have we acted as if we believe that? Stepping on the scale and hoping for miracle? More times then we would care to admit (publicly). So...just keeping it real reminder to keep you "on point" ;).
coach tam's Blog
40-something who loves food, fitness, and fun!