Picnic and Pitch-in Pointers

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In most people’s weight loss journey (and life in general) there are times of significant challenge. Those may be caused by busy times in life and/or work. Then there are fun and festive times that create challenges. Frankly, there are times during which a person simply feels they can’t (or choose not to) stay “on track”. They just want to “cheat” some.

Ever feel this way? If so, you are certainly not alone. And, honestly, you really should be able to flex and “cheat” some … in moderation … and in control. It seems like certain times of year may tend to create this scenario more than others. For many, this particular time of year proves to be one of those. Think about it. Summer is a time that many, many people are …

  • Taking vacations – summertime seems to be THE time for that since the kids are out of school, the parks and campgrounds are open, etc. Of course, some people use travel and the typical eating out which comes with it as a time to find and experience some healthy eating. Others use it as an excuse to go off the rails.
  • Out of a normal work pattern – several people who work jobs associated with school or other seasonal jobs end up in a pattern that’s not typical. Life is free, flexible and fun. There’s no doubt that this has the potential to throw one out of a normal and healthy eating pattern, as well as, alter their fitness schedule and sleep schedule.
  • Participating in seasonal activities - Besides vacationing this may be travel baseball or softball tourneys, picnics, reunions, boating, camping and more. All awesome and fun stuff! Of course, all tend to involve “less than ideal eating” options.

Scenarios like these clearly have the potential to steer a person “off the rails”. Since that is a concern for so many of our clients and followers, we want to share some tidbits that will help prevent a total “train wreck” through these times. We call it being able to “Temper the train wreck”.

In other words, how can you minimize the amount of “cheating”, the degree of distraction or damage to your weight loss plan … and the effect on the scale?

First and foremost, bear in mind a phrase you may have read here before: It’s all about “Direction not Perfection”. What that means is you need not get every single little bite of every meal exactly right. Yes, the vast majority need to be in line with a healthy plan designed for you (in our program that is determined using genetic testing). Our focus is always on our clients developing a healthy LIFESTYLE … not being on a diet. Within a healthy lifestyle there is indeed room for error.

All the picnics and pitch-in dinners that happen during summer are so fun! Of course, they can wreak havoc on a weight loss plan. By design these gathering typically have LOTS of food and LOTS of variety. Everybody brings something. Yet, in every crowd some are in a healthy mindset and some are not. Some are trying to watch their weight or even lose some. Some could care less. The food spread that develops is a true reflection of this reality! So, when one of those special occasions crops up consider this hit list of tips:

  • Get strategic ahead of time: Consider eating a sensible and light snack or salad before you head to the event. This should immediately trigger a mindset of planning and control. This should also prevent you from rolling into the gathering hungry and immediately grabbing a handful of junk to nibble on. If you don't arrive completely famished, you will be more likely to make selections in line with your plan once you arrive.
  • Start Smart: When it’s time to eat, start with a light and healthy first round. There are many studies showing that people eat less overall when they begin their meal with a green salad. Ditch the dinner rolls as the first item you start with. (In fact, just omit them altogether if you can).
  • Space on the Plate - make it a point to fill your plate in a way that you can actually see the plate between the various foods. Your plate does not have to resemble a mountain and every square inch of it need not be covered up. Also, no body is going to be offended if you choose not to indulge in their dish.
  • Run below the radar. We always suggest a person down-play the inquiries that may come when others see you doing something new and different. When someone asks you why you have space left on your plate or why you aren’t engorging yourself (like so many others will) there is no need to go into a big long explanation of your program or your reasons, etc. Simply state something like “I’m just trying to make a few changes these days” or “I’m not that hungry right now” (which is the truth if you did the first tip above and didn’t show up hungry!) or something similar and non-attention getting. This provides you an internal, mental victory and in a sense keeps you accountable.
  • One and Done. Even if you “cheat” a bit with foods or portion sizes, decide to make one trip through the line and be done. Afterall, if you are on any type of plan or program you almost surely do not eat multiple plates of food. Don’t allow the excessive amounts available steer you off track. YOU are not responsible for assuring there is nothing wasted!
  • Partner Power – Besides working closely with us, we always suggest our clients get an accountability partner. Whether it’s in your family, a co-worker or at an event like a picnic or reunion … or even on a vacation … or through an entire season of sports. Is there someone else who will be there who is also trying to watch their weight or currently trying to lose weight? Connect with them beforehand. Sit by each other at dinner(s). Check each other as the day, the trip or the season goes and encourage one another. Don't make a big deal of it to everyone else around. Just know inside that you and that person are going to work together and walk away feeling good about how you did.
  • Work on the Water! Drink water before you head to that big meal. Start in the morning. Dehydration tends to increase your appetite. Aim to drink what may seem like an excess amount of water on those big days. Divide your weight in half and drink that many ounces. (Example: if you weigh 180lbs, drink 90 oz.). Even if you are drinking something else during dinner, plan to have water with your meal, too. Sip it as you eat. Of course, this helps fill you up, but it will also keep you hydrated when consuming the typical foods that show up at this type of occasions. The more sugary and starchy food which tend to dehydrate you.
  • Provide for Y-O-U! It’s not selfish to take of yourself. Be strategic and bring some of your own food. Maybe an extra side dish or two that you know you will focus on eating. Bring healthy food to be nibbling on as everyone does the standard pre-dinner grazing as they gather and visit. Pick the lesser of evils. Fill up on tasty nutrient-filled dishes during your meal. This will cause you to eat less junk after. Search out and prepare a dessert that is naturally sweetened, sugar free and tasty. Don’t be offended if others don’t take it, but don’t be surprised if they do and end up loving (and appreciating) it!
  • Eat consciously! Take your time. It's not a race! You’ve heard it before, but really focus on chewing each bite more times than normal on this day. Take smaller bites. There's no need to shovel it in. Focus on enjoying conversation with those you are with rather than diving headfirst into your plate of food. In all reality, your body needs time to become aware that you are full. Taking your time allows this to happen.
  • Choose just one! It's understandable if you just can't make it without that slice of home-made apple pie someone brought (or whatever dessert you love). After all, it’s a celebration! So, give yourself a bit of a break. However, rather than having a full slab of every dessert that 6 or 8 different people chose to bring, make a selection. Take a small, sensible size of ONE dessert. Enjoy that desert with others. Savor it. Feel good about your decision and control. Then move on!
  • Burn at least SOME calories! Of course, it seems like the norm to pig out then fall into a lawn chair or sit by a fire in a semi-comatose state to lounge around after a big meal. You can still do that … some! But, make it a part of your plan to also get out and move some. Be intentional. Bump up your metabolism a bit. Set the time you will do this and ask who wants to join you. Maybe that accountability partner will. Maybe nobody will. If that’s the case, quietly slide out and get a walk, a hike or some movement in. You will be very happy you did!
  • Remember the WHY! Bear in mind what the event is really about. Is it family reuniting? An annual work event? A high school reunion? A team celebration? It’s about PEOPLE connecting. Spend time and energy focusing on them. When you do this, the focus on food will fade.

The Bottom Line is this: Map your course! Go in with a plan. Seriously. Pre-determine that you are not going to go WAY of the track and end up being frustrated and bloated for the rest of the day, weekend or season. How will you approach the day or season? What are the “rules” you will play by? What will have to happen for you to enjoy it all, but also feel good physically and emotionally about your end result? If you have a target you will be way more likely to (at least) get close. No target or no plan at all typically results in chaos and a train wreck. You’ve probably heard it said:

If you fail to plan you are planning to fail.

Need help this summer. Click or call and let’s chat!

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