Summer Slam

17 Jun

In the Pacific Northwest, I have learned, summer doesn’t really start until July, sometimes late July.  So while most of the country is already running around in shorts and bathing suits, we’re sittin pretty up here.  Some may think we have an advantage because we have an extra month or so to get ourselves ready to bare that extra skin.  But something about that just doesn’t sit well with me.

As a fitness professional, I see SUCH a push for summer slim-downs from both clients and trainers.  While having that extra motivation is helpful, I get that, it mostly sounds like yet another yo-yo, quick-fix attempt that is not long-lasting.  Stop and look around, it’s on every magazine cover and diet website.  It frustrates me, because often the squeakiest wheel gets the grease, and those campaigns are LOUD.  But what if you didn’t have to slim down every summer?  Seriously, consider that.  What if you made small changes, and then built upon those with other small changes so that by the time next summer rolls in (whenever that may be), you’re happy and healthy and confident in your skin?

The first thing I will say is that there isn’t a nutrition and exercise blueprint because we’re all wonderfully different.  BUT there are a few basic pieces that can be tailored to most people.  Consider these your foundational “small changes”.

  • Portions.  This one can be tricky because often how much we eat isn’t based on how hungry we are, but what we are feeling or doing while we’re eating.  When we aren’t paying attention to how much food we’re consuming, we end up consuming 2-3x as much as we would if we were sitting down having a meal!  There are a few different avenues to go about portioning, but some of my favorites are:
    • Eat less, more – smaller meals spaced throughout your day keeps your body running well and not weighed down with too much food which often results in what we call a “food coma”
    • measure your servings and eat only that amount – on a plate, not from the bag/bowl/etc.
    • write out what you are going to eat for your meal – you can use an app like My Fitness Pal or Lose It to see how many calories you’ll be consuming and then tailor it BEFORE you eat it.  (this is one of my favorites) – In fact, you can do this for the whole day or week if you like
    • Don’t eat if you’re swimming in feelings.  Stop.  Sit down and journal or call a good friend.  SO many of us turn to food for comfort and we end up feeding our body food that it doesn’t need to burn, so it stores it.  And you know what it stores it as?  Yup, that awful 3-letter word: fat.  It’s hard to reach out and be vulnerable, but food isn’t going to actually address what is going on inside you.  Consider who can help you, who can you call on?
  • Composition.  All calories are not created equal – maybe you know this.  So in an effort to not emulate a broken record, I will say aim for a few simple things within each meal:
    • Eat lots of vegetables – you can’t overeat on these and they contain SO many nutrients your body needs. Just try to vary them
    • Eat fruit, but don’t go crazy.  DO try to replace sugary/dessert type foods with fruit.
    • Protein is important, if your body doesn’t get enough from what you eat, it will use what you have stored – your muscles.
    • Make your grain choices whole – aim for brown or wild rice, quinoa, oats, etc. instead of bread and pasta
  • Heavy Breathing.  You gotta move!  This is where people differ most, I think.  But unless you are in a very active job (construction, professional athlete, etc) you need to make some effort to get moving.
    • Hire a Personal Trainer – if you can afford it, this type of one-on-one training will address nutrition and lifestyle as well as walk you through personalized, effective workouts.
    • Take a class – if you need someone to instruct and push you or want to bring a friend, classes are great.  These are nice too if you’re not sure what you like – you can often just try a bunch of different things over a month and decide what your favorites were – that’s actually really fun 🙂
    • Ditch your car – any time you can walk or bike instead of driving, do it!
  • Who’s Got Your Back?  Do you have people, or a person, who will motivate and encourage you?  Seek out a partner or a few friends and confide in them that you desire to make a change.  Tell them how they can encourage you and keep you accountable, maybe they’ll join in with you!  It is a FACT that you are far less likely to quit something if you have others doing it with you (this is why programs with community, like Weight Watchers, are so effective).  I think we’re inherant people-pleasers, but whatever the case, you’re not going to ditch the workout if you know you’ll be called out on it or worse, if you’d be standing up a trainer or friend!  Another side of this is that you can invite this person to be the one you work through emotional struggles with – like those mentioned in the Portions section.  We’re relational beings.  If you embrace that as part of your “small changes” you will see that it actually makes the other ones considerably easier.

Well that was a lot of writing for a few simple things… 🙂  Hopefully you made it through and found a bit of it helpful or motivational.  I just want to encourage you to look a little further into the future and know that while instant gratification and drastic changes feel good right now, lasting change is what will … well, last!

Happy Sunday (and Father’s Day)



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