Summer is hard.
Don’t get me wrong; I love the summer. I love being outside, having the windows open and eating my weight in watermelon and strawberries.
But I have found that it rivals the holiday season when it comes to challenging our intentions for staying on track with healthy eating and exercise.
In fact, as soon as we reach June, this is the #1 thing I get asked about: “How can I enjoy the BBQs, backyard parties and vacation time of summer while still making choices that I can be proud of?”
Well, here are my three top tips for making it to September without totally running off the rails:
1. HAVE A PLAN
The worst thing you can do is just go to the party, or on vacation, and hope for the best.
If this is your approach, then I can tell you right now that it will not end well for you.
Left it its own devices, your brain will interpret the fun and excitement of the party, combined with the absence of your normal food and routine as stress (aka potential danger). As a result, it will almost certainly end up quickly rationalizing not-so-healthy choices (to feel better about the stress) and you’ll leave feeling frustrated, unhappy and beating yourself up over how it all went down.
Instead, take some time BEFORE the event or before you leave on vacation to create a realistic and specific plan for exactly what you’ll do to set yourself up for success while you’re there.
- If it’s a BBQ or party, what healthy dish can you make to take with you and what are some food options that will very likely be there that you can decide ahead of time will be your “go-to”s?
- If it’s a vacation, spend some time researching the place you’re going and finding healthy restaurant options ahead of time, or (if you’ll be cooking your own meals there) make a meal plan for the week, the same way you would at home.
- Sure, incorporate some indulgences here and there, but be selective and deliberate about them. Don’t make these decisions in the moment. Decide, at least 24 hours in advance, what not-so-healthy foods you’re going to select and how much you’ll eat. Then do not deviate from that plan.
2. EAT MINDFULLY
A big part of the reason that we get so easily derailed at social events during the summer is that we’re simply not paying attention.
We’re connecting with friends and family, playing in the water and chasing around the kids or grandkids. We didn’t make a plan for what we’d eat or how much so while we’re completely distracted, we’re hoping that we’ll somehow end up choosing the raw veggies rather than the potato chips.
And how does that generally work out?
Instead, separate the act of eating from the talking, catching up, running around, swimming, boating, playing, dancing, etc. Do all of that stuff – have a blast – but when it’s time to eat, make a conscious decision to bring your focus and attention to the act of eating.
- Be deliberate and thoughtful about what you’re putting on your plate.
- Eat slowly and with as little distraction as possible. Just listen to the conversation rather than participating while you eat.
- Slow down and really savour the delicious food that you selected for your plate.
- Take small bites and chew more than you normally would.
3. BE OKAY WITH DISCOMFORT
Here’s the thing, what feels good and easy for your brain in the moment is to eat everything that strikes its fancy and eating more and more and more of it until you can’t eat any more.
Doing anything other than that is going to feel hard. And our brains are wired to resist things that feel hard so
But it’s okay to feel some discomfort.
It’s okay to see the bowl of potato chips on the patio table and want to eat them but not eat them and feel uncomfortable because of that friction.
It’s like when a small child wants a toy or a chocolate bar and you say “no.” They might throw a tantrum because they’re not getting what they want, but as the adult you know that the discomfort they’re feeling, while very real for them, will not hurt them and that eventually, no matter how hard it feels for them in that moment, they will forget about this and move on. The same thing is happening for your brain. It’s throwing a little tantrum because it wants something and it’s not getting it, but that’s okay.
- When you find yourself craving something that doesn’t line up with your plan, just allow the uncomfortable feeling to be there. It’s okay. There’s no need for panic. It’s just a feeling.
- Consider the fact that there is no growth, no transformation without discomfort. You cannot become the person you want to be from your comfort zone. Discomfort is the sign that you’re doing the work. It’s the evidence that you’re creating the life you want to live and being the person you want to be – on your terms!
- Remember: We can do hard things!
Comment below and tell me if this was useful and if you think you can put these three tools to work for you this summer!
Thank you! Lots of good tips. I’ll give it a go. So far since Ive been following you Ive been doing a lot of mindful eating and the lbs are sliding off😍thank you, Sara!!
I think this will be very helpful to me. Thank you!
I am on vacation now so timing is perfect. I brought my scale so I don’t lose track of my focus.
Love the idea that discomfort means you are doing a good job. And it’s ok to want it, be uncomfortable that you want it but still not eat it. Thank you
Thank you, I sure will try these tips
Lots of great tips. Thank you! I really like the one about mindfully eating while listening rather than participating. We could all benefit from some more listening! Thank you Sara!
Oh you are so right Sara, summer is difficult. Thanks for reminding us of how our thinking can make these events be in our favour. Great tips.
Very helpful and the timing for this was perfect for me . Thank you Sara
I always know what I should be doing, but you always give the reason why we do the things we do and that gives understanding! And it is in that understanding where the power of your wisdom lies for me-making it so much easier to do what I know needs to be done! Thank you so much!
I really appreciate all the great tips Sara.. They are very helpful especially this time of year when it’s way too easy to grab the junk food and not think twice about what your body really needs for health. Thank you
Love the analogy with a toddler pitching a fit. I have come to realize that I have given in to my inner toddler for far to long. It is time that I put on some big girl panties and tell myself no, or at least not that. I can do this.
Thanks Sara! I really appreciated these tips, especially the one about dealing with the discomfort of not having something that you really want but don’t need! Great advice!
Thank you Sara a lot of great tips to get through the summer
“Its just a feeling”! I love this! Many thanks!
Thanks Sara. I will be using these tips. I was doing very well with the Mindful Eating but have slipped back into old habits. I have realized that I do not feel well or sleep well when I overeat and make the wrong choices. I have re-started the 5 day challenge to help me get back on track. I especially love the part about feeling uncomfortable and that is okay. I am going to try all 3….plan, eat mindfully and be okay with the discomfort. Thanks for the wonderful words of wisdom.
Thank you. Good, practical, realistic tips. Will try to incorporate them in my daily life.
Awesome tips thank you so mych!!
Thank you so much Sara. Everything you say makes it easier every day. I have been loosing approx 1 lb a week just mindfully eating and walking but not starving. I know I could do better by portion control but I’m getting there slowly but surely. 💗
This was very helpful. I especially appreciate the thought that discomfort is okay. I had not considered that before and it changes my thoughts in a positive way.
Your tips on planning ahead really help and being more mindful about slowing down has really been helpful so for certain I will use that continually.
Thank you Sara!
I have to quit giving in to myself all the time. I will visualize myself having a tantrum when I say no to eating something unhealthy, knowing that it won’t hurt me.
I just went to a family bbq and I’m so proud of myself that I did go with a plan. I lost focus a bit when desserts were put out but thank goodness I didn’t do too much damage. Being ok with discomfort probably would have helped me make better choices with dessert and I will absolutely use that at the next party or bbq. Thank you so much, Sara!
Thank you for this, Sara. I just got back from 2 weeks in our travel trailer with our 2 granddaughters. It was mostly healthy eating with a few “special treats” thrown into the mix. I did plan. The girls (12 & 10 yrs) come from a family who eat little meat, a lot of veggies, which made it easier for me to plan. Now that we are back, and have another scheduled gathering out of town, and it won’t be as easy. Adult friends who choose the places we go and stay. It will be a challenge, but it’s only 2 days, and I am sure with your advice, I can get through without running totally off the rails. Many thanks for your knowledge and wisdom. I can do this!
Heading for a backyard morning get together with friends tomorrow at 10:30a.m. . Decided to read the post before going. My plan is to take some berries and nuts. Likely there will be muffins and coffee. I won’t nibble rather I’ll stick to the food I place on my plate. I’ll choose to listen and avoid talking & eating. I expect to be uncomfortable and know that’s what progress is.
Thank you! Social events are my down fall. Keeping my hands busy helps a lot.
Very helpful! I am good at saying no to my granddaughter for her on good. I need to use that same strategy on myself. Without discomfort there is no transformation… WOW!
Thanks, I needed added motivation!
Thanks Sara. Going to be a busy few weeks with party plans. I know this will help.
You are very wise and I’m so glad you are sharing your wisdom to help me, because it really does help!
Thank you. I needed this right now. Being mindful works so well for me when I remember to do it. I need to get back to my mantra of “I can do hard things”. I can! And I will! This really is a tough time to make great food choices and it would be so easy to slide back. Not going there. Thank you again for the nudge in the right direction.
Sara, you always post new info at exactly the time that we need it,, thank you! Enjoy your vacation!
Sara Best. These are great, I have been following you since Jan of this year and have your book. You explain things so they make sense to me. Im 62 and my whole life I have had this internal noise about food in my head that I could never turn off. I am so happy to say that I now understand it and ….. control it. I started my journey this Jan at 297 lb and right now Im at 216. I very rarely give in to cravings, eat way healthier and truly enjoy what I eat. Have all my meals at the table in a quiet room and that really helps me with my portions. I am way more fit. And have dropped my resting heart rate from 76 beats per min. to 59. All this in 7 months. I have tried everything before this. Diet pills as a teen, every program you can think of and I went through the medical procedure of being banded in my late 40’s. Nothing worked until I really understood my thinking. Thank you so much for your free stuff and your book. My Kids see a huge difference and tell me every day how happy they are. They are my reason.
Love, love, love this😍👣😉💞💥
Love tip #3 so much, and it’s really, really, really what I need to see right now.
These past 18 crazy months, I’ve been “over comforting” myself, to the result of a 40 lb weight gain. Yikes, now THAT’S scary!
I will take this info and move forward with it, feel the feelings, observe the discomfort and move on with it and past it.
Thank you, Sara. 🙂