Registered Dietitian, Author and Food Consultant
We wait all year for long summer days filled with BBQs, pool parties, cottage weekends and food festivals. But these endless social events can have you overindulging in food and drink more than any other time of year. Opportunities for spontaneous weeknight drinks on a patio and invites to cottages in the summer can easily disrupt my nutrition and fitness strategy! Let’s explore what two experts have to say about staying on track with your healthy habits over the summer.
Make Healthy Habits a Priority
Sherry Coleman Collins, registered dietitian nutritionist and president of Southern Fried Nutrition Services, located in Marietta, Georgia explains, “It’s totally okay to eat special foods or drink those summer cocktails, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw out healthy eating habits. Remember to control portions (a little ice cream can go a long way), drink plenty of water to offset alcohol consumption, and balance calories at other eating occasions throughout the day. Summer can also be a great time to get more physical activity, so look for opportunities to counteract some of those extra calories.”
When it comes to physical activity, six-time professional boxing champion Fitz “The Whip” Vanderpool, founder of The Whip Boxing Academy in Waterloo, agrees. “Many of my recreation clients’ eating habits and schedules change in the summer months, but it’s all about balance,” he says. “There are a variety of ways you can stay on track with your fitness goals while enjoying the warm weather, including swimming, hiking, Frisbee in the park with your kids and 10-minute intense exercise routines.”
With the kids out of school and vacation time on-tap, people can get off track with healthy meal planning and daily eating. I recommend they adapt to the summer schedule by preparing in advance and making sure they have the essentials in their kitchens to plan for those spontaneous summertime events.
Coleman Collins agrees and offers these helpful tips: “Keep your kitchen stocked with nutritious snacks and seasonal produce. For instance, keep a bowl stocked with fresh fruit that is always visible, available, and ready to grab when you’re running out the door. I use a cooler and ice packs to transport my toddler’s favourites, including baby carrots, cheese sticks, hummus, and yogurt tubes. Peanut butter sandwiches, whole grain crackers and even turkey jerky (though watch portions, as this is high in sodium) are other nutritious options for portion-controlled lunches on the road and play dates in the park.”
Healthy eating doesn’t have to get lost in the shuffle of travel. Coleman Collins’ favourite tip for camping is to prepare foil packets with cooked diced chicken, vegetables and seasonings in advance, and keep them on ice until the grill is fired up. Then serve in a pita for dinner in a flash!
I can easily put my fitness routine on the back burner when I’m relaxing at friends’ cottages and taking mini road trips. My clients find this is the case for them too. When they miss their typical scheduled hour-long workout, they are not replacing the activity throughout the day and start to feel sluggish.
Vanderpool has some excellent recommendations to keep your exercise plan on the front burner as you enjoy these summer events. “Consider changing your habits in the summer months to take advantage of the morning hours, because it’s usually the coolest time of the day and daylight starts so early. Plan for a 30-minute power walk or jog whether you are at a cottage, camping or at a hotel. All you need is a good pair of shoes, water to hydrate and a safe route (treadmills are an option if you’re at a hotel). Getting your workout in early will free up the rest of your day. Another option is to aim for a high intensity 10-minute body routine in the evening. This is often a welcome habit after a long day of travel. Mix it up with cardio and strength exercises. For example, include jumping jacks, burpees, planks, push-ups and sit-ups. If you’re at the cottage or camping bring along your jump rope for skipping.”
Whatever daily fitness routine you choose this summer, Vanderpool emphasizes always staying hydrated with water and fresh fruit to maintain your energy in the warmer months.
Now that you have these useful tips for food and fitness, let’s not forget about getting enough Zzzs! Sleep is an important piece of my mind-body healthy lifestyle equation: Energy = Food + Fitness +
Sleep, especially in the summertime when the days are longer and bedtimes may be later. Aim for seven to eight hours of restful sleep every night. This will help keep you focused and energized to enjoy all the summertime fun on hand!