Back to School with your Diet and Exercise
Another summer has flew by! It’s back to school time for kids. But I also think of it as a back to school time for adults as many of our healthy eating and exercise habits went by the wayside for these past 3 months. While summer is often associated with lighter foods and more outside activity, why is it every September many of us are up a few pounds? Vacations, BBQs, entertaining, outdoor dining, weekends in the Hamptons or Jersey Shore and of course … and summer cocktails! Weekend traveling also means means less time for exercise. But now that September is here, it’s time to recommit to get back to your healthy diet and exercise schedule. Our kids aren’t the only ones who need to go back to school! Read ahead to get started on your “homework”.
Here are some tips to get you back on track with healthy diet and exercise after the summer:
- Analyze your habits and the areas that have slipped over the summer months. Once you come up with the problem areas, you can formulate a plan. Step #2 is a great place to start.
- Keep a food log. “I really don’t eat that much – I can’t understand why I gained 5 pounds this summer”. How many of you have ever said this? Most of us are so busy that we don’t pay detailed attention to what we eat. And coming out of vacation/party/travel mode only makes it worse. Our portions may be larger than we think. We may eat “unconsciously” at times during the day. Or the wine is flowing a little too freely at dinner. Many people vastly underestimate the amount of food (and drinks) they are eating – sometimes by as much as 75%! Studies have shown that those people who keep a food log can double their weight loss. So either get your notebooks out or try one of the food log apps on your smart phone (I’m a fan of myfitnesspal.com).
- Eat more dinners at home. Not only will you be in control of how the food is cooked and what ingredients are used, but you will also save money. Now when I say “eat at home”, I don’t mean to order in Chinese! Cook a simple meal of grilled fish or broiled chicken and a salad. Or try a Meal Kit like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, Plated, or Fresh Direct. Read my recent blog post dinner ideas from Fresh Direct and NYC Meal Delivery Services.
- Get all the trigger foods out of your environment.This means your husband’s pint of Ben and Jerry’s Chubby Hubby or the cheese and crackers you keep in the house for “company” (i.e. YOU) Try buying snack foods for your kids that you don’t love. Put snacks in opaque containers versus clear ones –studies have shown you will eat significantly less of them. The less temptation you have around you, the better!
- Cut down on the booze. While I’m all for fitting alcohol into a healthy eating plan, the first few weeks of September can be a great time to “dry out”. Try to have a few weeks with no alcohol – or at least keep it to weekends.
- Get more sleep. This one is huge. Indequate sleep leads to increased hunger and carb cravings, weight gain and increased risk of heart disease and diabetes.
- Get an activity tracker. Most us sit too much (including myself!) These activity trackers can do a great job of motivating (or humiliating) you into moving more. Overall health isn’t just about going the gym and watching what you eat – it’s also about moving more and sitting less! Read my previous post on how a fitness tracker can help you lose weight.
- Plan a healthy afternoon snack so you aren’t famished by the time dinner comes around. Our blood sugar tends dip several hours after lunch. This can lead to low energy levels, carb cravings and can cause overeating at the next meal. The ideal snack is one that contains carbs (preferably high fiber and/or low glycemic index) in addition to some protein and/or fat. I often suggest ~ 150 calories for this afternoon snack. Examples: 1 T. peanut butter on a small apple or a string cheese and a few Wasa crackers or yogurt (try the high protein Greek yogurt) and 1/2 cup berries. Read my blog post on low carb snacks
- Rev up the exercise.“It’s too hot” to exercise is no longer an excuse as the temperature starts to drop. Walk to work instead of taking the bus or subway. Or at least get off a stop earlier. Find an exercise buddy to join you on a lunch time speed walk. Schedule exercise sessions into your appointment book like any other appointment. The ideal exercise program combines resistance training with some type of aerobic exercise. Need help with motivation – sign up for this fun/challenging boot camp – NYC Adventure Boot Camp (see pic)
- Eat more volume based foods such as veggies, fruit and broth based soups. Not only will this boost your nutritional intake, it will also help to fill you up so you’ll eat less of the fattening foods. Try starting your meal off with a salad or soup … non-creamy dressings or soup of course! Instead of having a cup of rice at dinner, have 1/2 cup and add a cup of veggies. More food, fewer calories.
- Find a new exercise goal. Fall is a great time to get into biking. Join a local bicycle club. Sign up for road race. First commit … then train for it!
- Practice stress management. Find ways to alleviate stress. I find yoga and mediation work for me. Check out my previous blog post on Meditation Apps
- Set concrete attainable goals. I know I’ve listed a lot of “homework” – but don’t take on too much at one time. Pick 1-3 goals to work on. Write them down and come up with a plan on how you will attain them. Once you feel good about meeting those goals, add in another on. The trick to make them SMART goals: Specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. Then once you have met these, add another one.
Kids aren’t the only ones who have to go back to school! If you need help getting back on track after the summer, contact me for a nutrition counseling session. One session may be all you need! Check out my website MarthaMcKittrickNutrition.com or call me at (212) 879-5167 or email Martha@ MarthaMcKittrickNutrition.com
I especially love problem-solving, whether it’s helping women defeat issues plaguing them for years, helping a busy executive find practical ways to get heart healthy, or providing tips to help you reverse diabetes. That’s why I’m on a constant quest to expand my knowledge by staying on top of the latest research.