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7 Ways to Fast-Track Your Summer Weight Loss
Is summer the easiest time to lose weight? Common sense suggests that the abundance of delicious fresh fruits and vegetables, plus the warm weather and smaller clothes, would motivate us to pay closer attention to what we put in our mouths. However, each summer I watch my clients struggle with their weight-loss programs, and I also find these months to be distinctly challenging. Are you wondering why? The problem is not with the foods that we’re eating, but rather with the lifestyles that we’re leading.
The summer months are just more social — more dinners with friends, more reasons to celebrate with a margarita, and most often, a vacation and/or a few extra days off from work. All this socializing, while fun and festive, can make it extremely hard to lose weight or even maintain.
If you, like many of us, are determined to stay on your weight-loss track this summer, don't fear. It is possible to enjoy yourself while watching your waistline. These seven tips will help you avoid the battle of the summer bulge and will have you looking and feeling great for all your festivities between July 4th and Labor Day!
1. Cut the sugar. Sugar is most often the biggest weight loss saboteur. Regardless of calories, sugar will stop weight loss in its tracks. When pondering a food decision, be sure to ask yourself if this food is too high in sugar. Many foods that are marketed as “healthy and fat free” can be super high in sugar and can destroy your weight-loss efforts. It is best to keep added sugar to no more than 10% of your daily calories. This does not include naturally occurring sugar, such as that found in whole fruit, veggies and dairy products. (Beware of high-sugar flavored yogurts, though.)
Bottom line: The lower your sugar intake, the faster you will lose weight.
2. Go without alcohol five nights per week. I am a big fan of cocktail hour, especially during the summer months. What could be better than sitting outside with an icy margarita or a frothy beer? The sad news is that alcohol and weight loss do not mix well. Not only are the calories from alcohol empty but they also interfere with fat metabolism and stimulate your appetite. If you know that you have a social weekend coming up, try to keep your weekday nights alcohol free. It is all about planning ahead for your cocktails.
Bottom line: The best way to lose weight at a rapid clip is to skip the cocktail at least five nights per week. When you do choose to imbibe, do it in moderation and with lower-calorie beverages such as wine, light beer or vodka with club soda.
3. Say “no” when it’s dark. Make it a goal to try to stop eating once it is dark outside. Studies have shown that there is something about the dark evening hours that can cause individuals to overeat. This night-eating syndrome can be particularly problematic for many people, including me! And while there is no science to support the theory that calories at night are more readily converted to fat on your body, there is a good chance that if you are eating too much at night, you are probably eating too many calories overall. By cutting off your nighttime noshing, you’ll also get a better night’s sleep, and wake up feeling rested and energized.
Bottom line: Limit yourself to one piece of fruit from 8 PM on.
4. Graze your way through the day. You may have been taught that eating three square meals is the best way to achieve weight loss success, but more recent thinking supports grazing as a better way to keep your weight in check. Eating five to six small meals, or even more, throughout the day will not only boost your metabolism, but will also prevent extreme hunger pangs, which can result in over-eating or poor food choices. Many people even find that dividing their typical lunch into two servings, half at noon and half at 2-3 PM, can help regulate calories while avoiding excessive hunger.
Bottom line: Spread out your food and snacks into mini-meals throughout the day. It may take a little more effort, but you'll be sure to notice the weight loss as well as an increase in energy.
5. Veg out. It is so clichéd, but remember to eat more raw veggies! Munch out on raw carrots, peppers, cucumbers and pea pods. You can crunch A LOT for not a lot of calories. And don't be scared off by the sugar content in carrots; you can still eat at least a cup of them without worrying about the natural sugars that make them so delicious. Plan ahead by preparing big baggies full of cleaned vegetables to much on when you walk in the door, or are (hungrily) doing your food shopping.
Bottom line: Eat more vegetables; they will help fill you up without sabotaging your weight loss efforts. Have them prepared and ready to go during your witching hour to keep you away from higher calorie crunches.
6. Nix the artificial sweeteners. Studies suggest that the sweetness you taste from these non-caloric sweeteners will cause your body to crave more sweet stuff. And while I am not sure that the science is all that strong, I do think that the theory makes sense. When you taste sweet, you want more sweet. I have found with myself, as well as with my private clients, that when we cut out the diet soda and other artificially sweetened beverages and food, it becomes SO much easier to stay on a healthy eating path. Everything just tastes better when your taste buds haven't been conditioned to receive that strong sweet taste.
Bottom line: Reduce artificial sweeteners as much as possible and dose up on plain water or seltzer. You'll find it much easier to resist other sweets if you do.
7. Plan ahead. When looking at your summer calendar, be sure to plan ahead for your healthy eating program. As I mentioned, it is most often our summer lifestyles that cause us to get derailed. Planning ahead includes:
- Finding time to shop for healthy foods (i.e., raw fruits and veggies)
- Planning your cocktails for the week and trying to limit cocktails to two nights per week
- Finding time to exercise!
Bottom line: By planning ahead each week, you will be much more likely to succeed at your weight management program.
Please be sure to comment below and let us know how your healthy-eating program is going. If you have any summer tips to keep us all going strong, please share them with us as well. We would love to hear from you!
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