I don’t know about you, but this girl often struggles with keeping her nutrition on the straight and narrow. Somehow, I show up consistently enough to make a habit out of exercise. I may skip a day or two here and there.
It may take me two very large scoops of pre-workout in the morning (or even the afternoon) to throw on those sneakers and get moving. I could probably lift heavier or run farther. However, for the most part, I get it done.
Food is an entirely different story and struggle. Generally, I start the day strong. I add very little to no sugar to my coffee. My breakfast is nearly always protein-rich (think chicken and broccoli egg scramble), and I even manage to shove a good serving size of veggies into every meal.
It’s the late-night munchies for me. The kitchen has been tidied, the baby is finally asleep, and those M&M cookies are just calling my name. I’m sure the occasional alcoholic beverage (I use “occasional” rather loosely here) I indulge in weekly doesn’t help. Then, when I’ve had a seemingly healthy week, those weekend cheat meals and pesky (but utterly delightful) holidays come along and I just want to eat all the delicious things. With the 4th of July just around the corner, I’m already imagining all things backyard-barbecue style!
I know I’m not alone here. So, here’s a quick list of some easy, go-to things you can do to stay (mostly) on track, but still enjoy that Independence Day BBQ and wear your red, white, and blue apparel with confidence.
Set a Water Goal
This one seems basic, but I’m telling you it is at the cornerstone of your nutrition success. Even with all the knowledge about the benefits of water, statistics still show that around 43 percent of American adults do not drink nearly enough water a day. The average is less than four cups (32 oz) of water a day. I’m literally thirsty just thinking about that.
Staying properly hydrated aids in digestion, promotes healthy brain function and healthy joints, regulates our body temperature and blood pressure, gives us energy, and so much more. Specifically, consuming the proper amount of water enables our body to properly metabolize fat and carbs.
For most of us, a healthy water goal is half our weight in ounces. Thus, if you weigh 180 pounds, you should aim to drink a minimum of 90 ounces of water daily. So, find yourself a cute water bottle and get chugging!
Plan it Out
Unless you are one of those super fun, spontaneous, and ultra-free people, chances are you at least have a general idea of whether you will be attending an event. Maybe you haven’t RSVP’d yet (because who doesn’t like a last-minute excuse to stay in bed all day?), but you at least have the thing on your calendar.
Here’s your chance to plan ahead, friends. I am most certainly not encouraging you to only eat chicken and broccoli all week in preparation for cousin Tony’s pulled pork and Aunt Susan’s lemon meringue pie. However, you could choose to not pull a pizza and wings night the day before that BBQ, and maybe opt for that spinach and egg frittata over the bagel with cream cheese for breakfast that morning.
Get in Some Activity
Whether you have the motivation to hit the gym and knock out a full-body workout, or you can barely muster a short walk around the block — just do something! This isn’t about trying to burn as many calories as you can so that you can eat as much as you can. Instead, it’s about setting and following healthy habits for yourself, getting your metabolism moving, and just getting in movement in general.
You may have heard that objects at rest tend to stay at rest, while objects in motion stay in motion. This is not just true in physics but is true in regards to our physical health as well. Get off that couch and get moving!
Oh, and if you don’t have time to move that body before your BBQ; don’t fret! When you’re feeling full and satisfied after the day’s meal, encourage a friend or family member to take a stroll with you. You may be surprised how many people want to join you!
Try Not to Fill up on Appetizers
This tip is true for any barbecue, party, or even dinner reservation. How many times have you looked forward to that juicy ribeye all week, only to fill yourself with complimentary bread and sides of macaroni and cheese before the entree even arrives?
Sure, chips and dips are tasty while you’re waiting on that grill to get fired up, but make sure you save room for the burgers and sausages. If you’re stress eating while trying to make small talk, grab yourself a seltzer or some veggies to keep your mouth busy instead. Moral of the story: put the chip down and walk away!
Eat Your Protein and Veggies First
There’s something pretty exciting about grabbing that paper plate and staring at all the bowls and platters while you’re waiting in the buffet line. Buttery mashed potatoes, creamy pasta dishes, stacks of cookies, and bowls of trifles all await you.
Avoid the temptation to fill up that plate with absolutely everything you see. Instead, start with a healthy portion of protein and veggies paired with one or two smaller servings of your favorite sides. Chances are you can always come back for seconds if you really want to.
Okay, here me out on this one. Maybe you were totally on your game today. You went for a nice walk, hit your water goal prior to party time, avoided those appetizers, and satiated yourself with pulled pork, grilled veggies, and grandma’s baked beans. Dessert is set and you can’t wait for a slice of blueberry pie.
Only one problem remains. Cousin Maggie always makes a fruit cake, and always gets offended if no one eats it. Plus, there’s a big ol’ platter of snickerdoodles calling your name. Here’s where the Tupperware comes in.
After all, Cousin Maggie won’t be offended if you are “too darn full” to eat a slice of her cake now, but you absolutely “can’t miss out” and take a piece home for later. Plus, those snickerdoodles will taste even better when you’re not crammed full of pie. Bring the Tupperware and your future self will thank you later.
Enjoy yourself! Unless you are training for a weightlifting competition or working towards your goal of becoming a bikini model, it’s okay to eat off plan occasionally. Even if you are struggling along in a weight loss journey, you should still enjoy life, and that includes a backyard barbecue and all its delights from time to time.
Make a plan, set yourself up for success, and don’t stress when you’re not perfect. After all, Independence Day only comes once a year. USA! USA! USA!
Shortly after being recruited as a virtual fitness coach, Kathryn started an online fitness group. Between studying for her personal fitness training certification, volunteering for stillbirth prevention foundations, raising her toddler, caring for her husband, 80-pound pitbull, and orange tabby cat, and working part-time in the restaurant industry, she writes and mentors others into adjusting their habits and coming through the fire stronger than they went in.