Spring is always the busiest in my practice. Not only is bathing suit season six weeks away, but my clients are also ready for inner renewal. New foods are in season, the days are longer, and we’re shedding our winter layers for lighter, more breathable fabrics. To put your best foot forward this season (and the rest of the year, too), challenge yourself to incorporate at least two of these guidelines. Making small strides each day will build good habits to give you big rewards over time!
- Increase your exercise
If you know you’ll be knocking back some extra wine (4 oz = 160 cals) at a party, make sure you balance out the scales with a long walk, jog, bike ride, rollerblading session, or a swim beforehand. For every mile of activity, you burn about 100 calories. So an hour of moderate activity can burn 600 calories! Not too shabby.
Exercise in the morning on an empty stomach and you’ll burn 30% more fat."Once you take away the "I can't eat that" from food, you remove the power it can have over you."
Also, try to add weight lifting to your regime 2-3 times per week for a good metabolic boost. Stressing your muscles by lifting heavy weights programs your body to repair (and subsequently build) them up, raising your calorie-burning potential even while your body is at rest.
Remember that just because you exercise, you do not have a license to overeat. Treat your body kindly.
- Watch your portion sizes
Okay, so you want to eat your Grandmother’s Death by Chocolate cake at an outdoor barbeque. The one you dream about, remember eating as a child, can taste in your mind when you’re feeling blue. Go ahead, have your cake and eat it too-just take a small piece so you enjoy the taste without the guilt.
When you eat, really enjoy what you’re eating. Savor the flavor, without guilt. Put your fork down between bites. Allow your body the 20 minutes it takes to feel full. Chances are, you’ll feel full before your plate is empty, and will end up eating less anyway.
- Drink alcohol in moderation and always with food in your stomach
Alcohol is liquid sugar. It is absorbed within minutes into the bloodstream, and causes your blood sugar to rise and fall, turning on the body’s hunger signals. Drinking with food can offset the blood sugar fluctuations and subsequent food binges that may follow. So remember- there’s peanuts at the bar for a reason. Eat something before you start drinking.
Space out your drinks over the course of the evening. Mentally prepare yourself for the party and decide ahead of time how much you’re going to drink- and stick to it.
- Add high-water foods to your meals
Load up on fruits and vegetables to fill you up. These both contain high amounts of water and subsequently are low in calories. Soups are my favorite winter nourishment, because they are comforting, hearty, and chock full of vitamins and minerals. Summer soups like cucumber or gazpacho are drenched in water and will gently relieve bloating and water retention.
Snack on cut up vegetables with guacamole or hummus, fresh fruit, or throw some frozen berries into a protein smoothie. You’ll keep your metabolism high by eating every few hours and you’ll be well-nourished at the same time.
Remember to eat what’s in season to ensure a variety of foods in your diet that are fresh and inexpensive.
- Forgive yourself
Remember that bathing suit season is not an ideal time to undertake radical dietary changes and put extra pressure on yourself. Be realistic. Choose to enjoy the summer with family and friends and focus on the pleasure those interactions add to your life.
Legalize foods that you might otherwise feel guilty eating. Once you take away the "I can’t eat that" from food, you remove the power it can have over you. Let yourself eat what you want, and try to stop eating when you feel full. Try to listen to your body and stay committed to the big picture of just feeling healthy.
If you do end up eating a little more than you planned, do not beat yourself up. Instead, be gentle and forgive yourself, and get right back on the wagon for the next meal.
Remember that celebrations are a part of life and will always be an opportunity to break away from healthy habits. But practicing the art of eating well on a daily basis will help maintain inner balance and a healthy relationship with food.