When I was in my mid twenties, I always looked forward to what I referred to as my summertime shed– that magical time of year that I could just walk outside and the Chicago sun would melt away my pesky, leftover winter pounds.
Unfortunately, once I hit my thirties the sun lost its slimming powers and I found myself battling…dare I say … summertime weight gain. What happened? Was summertime the problem or was it me? I had to make some changes; that is, if I didn’t want the summertime splurges that passed through my lips to stay on my hips.
Don’t get me wrong… there are definite moments I can pinpoint, like the taste of Chicago and weekly street festivals, that likely contributed to the thickening of my thighs, but I later learned of some less obvious errors that also lowered my metabolism and made it harder for me to lose weight.
With that… I’ll share with you three unlikely culprits for summertime weight gain – and how to avoid them so you too can survive the summer.
1- Kickin’ the schedule to the curb– I agree there is something freeing about being on vacation or staycation that allows you to temporarily turn off your blackberry (aka crack-berry) and kick your daily schedule to the curb. But while you’re enjoying your newfound freedom, be careful not to add extra calories to those extra hours. Free time can often lead to free grazing and overeating.
Plan for success- Keep your belly happy. When hunger strikes it can kill the mood, so come up with a plan to keep your belly satisfied and your vacation/staycation on track. Think about when you generally eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Your body likes consistency, so give it what it wants. Whether you’re at home, or on the go, eat each of these 3 major meals at the normal times.
In-between meals, reach for a packed snack. Before you start your day, find at least 2 high fiber foods (e.g. fruit, vegetables, whole grains) with 3 or more grams of fiber per serving to fight hunger between meals. Pre-pack the snack to limit yourself to the proper serving size. This will prevent you from accidentally polishing off an entire bag of chips while being engrossed in that book you’ve been waiting to get your hands on or that movie you’ve been dying to see.
2- Soaking up the sun– I’m sure you’ve heard the dangers of overexposure to the sun. We frequently hear warnings about things like dehydration, that it’s easy to become desensitized to it. Well trust me; dehydration is not something you want to ignore. As you may know, if untreated, severe cases of dehydration can lead to death.
But here’s something you may not have heard… Even minor cases of dehydration can hurt you where you’d least expect it- your metabolism. Yep… I said it; dehydration can affect your ability to lose weight. Let me break it down for you. You want your body to burn calories; well your body physically needs water to make this happen. (And no, you can’t meet your daily water needs by eating iceberg lettuce).
Imagine it, the key to your ability to lose and maintain weight has been in your water bottle all this time.
Plan for success– Always remember, if you’re thirsty your body is dehydrated! There are a lot of beverage options out there, but only a few will actually fight dehydration and quench your thirst. Not all fluids are created equal! Consider this….
When it’s hot outside, those icy, sweet drinks can seem very appealing, but they’re loaded with extra calories. Some summertime drinks may pack as much sugar and calories as a Snickers candy bar, without helping to satisfying your hunger OR quench your thirst.
Although diet sodas are a much better alternative to full calorie soft drinks, diet sodas aren’t entirely safe. If you want a treat, reach for a diet drink. If you are thirsty, skip the diet soda and head for the water. Diet drinks may have zero calories, but it doesn’t necessarily mean these beverages have zero consequences. Instead of quenching your thirst, diet sodas can make you thirstier. Diet sodas can also cause you to urinate more frequently, which will only increase your dehydration.
Water is the key to summertime success. It will cool you down, curb your appetite (make you feel full), and prevent you from slurping down unneeded extra calories.
3- Staying Cool– So you’re planning to beat the heat and avoid sunshine splurges by staying inside and blasting the air conditioner? We’ll I wouldn’t get too comfortable. Before you close those doors and lock the cold air in, I want to let you in on a little interesting fact. Comfort can quickly turn into calories!
When you adjust the thermostat to change the temperature in the room, your body doesn’t have to adjust or maintain its internal temperature. Not only does your metabolism not have to work as hard, but also comfortable living can quickly turn into comfort-based grazing. We’ve known that foods and moods go hand in hand, but so do temperatures and temptations. Heat can decrease a person’s appetite, but some people escape the heat to find comfort in food.
Plan for success– When you’re coming in from the heat, avoid the temptation to turn the room into an icebox. Give your body a chance to cool itself down before you drop the temperature in the room. Sit down and relax with a nice glass of water. The water will not only help to cool you down, but will also prevent you from reaching for a non-hydrating beverage or calorie filled snack. If after 5 to 10 minutes you still don’t feel cool enough, adjust the thermostat.
Who knows, you may find that you not only save a few calories but also a few bucks.
Stay connected with our blog for more tips on surviving the summer!!!
Water Filled Summer – Know the signs of dehydration, what fluids increase your risk of dehydration, and tips for staying hydrated this summer
Surviving Your Summer Vacation/Staycation– Summertime should be enjoyed, but be careful of possible pitfalls, topics for the Skinny Gene Guide to Surviving the Summer