Summer Time / Diet Time

The beginning of summer is almost like January 1st in the “dieting world”. Many people have not followed through as much as they wanted to on their New Year’s Resolution to lose weight, eat healthy, get fit, etc. Then here comes summer. Bathing suits, beach vacations, water parks, class reunions, and the list goes on of events where we want to look great. The last thing any of us wants is a diet “do-over.” Yet there are diet mistakes that can send you backward, and ruin your hard work and success at losing weight and getting fit. Here are a few tips to keep you on track to looking great in that new swimsuit!

1. Anxiety over indulgences. If you are out with friends and get talked into dessert, don’t beat yourself up. Even if you did enjoy your indulgence, put it in perspective — it’s just one mistake compared to all your good diet choices yesterday, today, and the ones you’ll make tomorrow.

2. Not exercising enough. Even if you could achieve your diet goals by calorie counting alone, you would be way more successful (and healthier) if you were physically active. The number one barrier to exercise is time. National recommendations are at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity most days of the week. But, figure out what works into your time schedule and get creative. You can mix it up into three 10-minute segments per day or two 15-minute segments, etc. Just make sure you do some kind of physical activity every single day.

3. Thinking of your diet as a diet. There is diet fatigue if you go on a diet. Most people can stay on a diet about three months and then they are done with it because they can’t stand it. Instead, focus on making healthy lifestyle and diet choices that you can live with for a long time.

4. Denying yourself your favorite foods. Be it chocolate or bacon, totally banning a favorite “unhealthy” food from your diet sets you up for unnecessary temptation. Instead, use your calorie-counting skills to build in a small indulgence now and again. If you are really having a craving, it is usually satisfied after a few bites. There is nothing wrong with eating half (or even whole) chocolate bar every once and awhile, as long as you account for the calories, and make sure it is your very favorite kind of chocolate bar. The other day my husband brought home a slice of red velvet cake left over from a work party. I looked at this cake, and thought I would try one bite. It was THE BEST cake I have ever eaten, and I know cake. This was something that I could not and would not pass up. After dinner, I ate the rest of it and enjoyed every bite. Normally, I would feel a little guilty, but this cake was worth every calorie.

5. Putting too much “weight” on the scale. Putting all of your feelings of success on the numbers on the scale can be a diet disaster. The numbers don’t lie, but sometimes they can be misleading due to a lot of different factors. Aim to only weigh yourself once a week and track other short-term health goals, such as eating more veggies, exercising daily, or drinking water instead of soda, that will give you a more accurate sense of accomplishment.

6. Letting one mistake start you on a downward spiral. People can completely go back to square one when they make one mistake. The remedy? If you make a mistake, admit it, forgive yourself, and get back on track right away. (See tip #1)

7. Overeating away from home. Eating out poses a special challenge when calorie counting because restaurant portions are overgenerous; your best bet is to ask for a to-go box and put half your order away before you start eating. If you skim the menu quickly and look for healthy terms like grilled, steamed, etc, you can skip over all the tempting descriptions of many of the menu items and make good choices when you are ordering.

8. Not reading labels. The most important number you need to pay attention to is the serving size. It’s easy to eat too much if you aren’t aware of how many servings are in a bottle or box and you consume the whole package, thinking it’s a single serving.

9. Eating too fast. If you eat quickly, your brain won’t get the message that you are full in time. This is one of my biggest issues. I eat really fast. I have been trying to slow it down and it really does make a big difference. I put the fork down between each bite and take a sip of water.

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