For more years than I want to admit, I’ve played the “get slim for summer – gain weight in winter” diet game. And I’m willing to bet a package of fat-free, sugar-free ice cream bars that the rules of my “game” sound familiar to many readers:
1. Round 1: In May, I typically try on my swim suit from last year and discover (tug, tug, rip!) that it no longer fits. I debate about heading to the store to buy a larger size, wince, and vow to start a rigorous diet.
2. Round 2: I immediately rush out, buy the latest and supposedly greatest diet book, and re-enroll at my local gym. I even clean out the refrigerator and cupboards, banishing my beloved hot fudge sauce, dumping the salty, greasy corn chips that I adore, and (whimper) bidding farewell to the chocolate fudge ripple ice cream in the freezer.
3. Round 3: By mid-June, I can fit into last year’s swim suit. I’m also sore from exercising and groaning at the sight of grapefruit, but hey, it’s worth it (I think).
I tend to stay slim all summer long. And as autumn leaves begin to fall, I always promise myself that this year will be different. This year, I’ll refrain from Halloween candy, eat only turkey without the skin and green salad at Thanksgiving, and say “Ix-nay” to the candy cane ice cream at Christmas. I’ll even keep up my gym membership in the midst of winter winds and storms.
Right. But somehow, that plan never has survived Halloween. Cascades of candy corn in October, followed by pumpkin pie temptation in November and invitations to cookie exchanges in December, typically replace the grapefruit diet vows. And about that gym membership… Hey, who has time when there are Halloween parties to plan and turkeys to stuff?
This year, though, I have a very different plan for success. It worked last year — and I know I can succeed again!
How to Keep Your Summer Body in Sizzling Shape Throughout the Year
Here’s your game plan for staying slim through even the most wicked winter:
1. Don’t do it on your own. Buddy up with a friend, a family member, or, for a faithful exercise partner, your dog! Share your diet and fitness goals. Don’t have anyone? Look for an online support group (many of them are free) where you can post your goals and get support 24/7.
2. Keep it realistic and healthy. Reality check: eating one grapefruit, one hard-boiled egg, and unlimited celery is NOT going to keep you healthy OR be easy to follow. If you’re not sure what the right diet is for your own needs, ask your health care provider to recommend a local registered dietitian or nutritionist.
3. Keep a food diary. This deceptively simple step has been shown in multiple medical studies to help dieters to succeed. There’s something about having to write down every mouthful (yes, that spoonful of cookie batter and “just a taste” of your dining partner’s fried cheese sticks) that can make a (literal) big fat difference when it comes to dieting.
4. Choose a form of exercise that you enjoy – and build in variety and options. Let’s face it: if you hate running and loathe getting up early, setting a goal of jogging every morning at 5 am is setting yourself up for failure. What counts is burning calories, whether you love to dance or bike or swim. In addition, aim for variety, such as taking a weight-lifting class two days a week, yoga one day, and dance aerobics every other day.
5. Plan for special events. Never say “never,” as in “I’ll just skip all food-related holiday activities.” You don’t need to make yourself a social outcast to stay summer slim. For example, suppose you’re invited to a Halloween party. You know that your host makes fabulous homemade fudge every year. Make a plan to get in some extra exercise the day of the party and the day after the party. Eat a healthy dinner filled with veggies to fill up, so that you’re not hungry when you go there. Plan exactly what you’ll enjoy at the party – for example, you might decide to have one piece of fudge.
6. Always take a bottle of sparkling water to any party or event you attend. Consuming extra calories by drinking sugary soda or alcoholic beverages can derail your diet all too easily. By knowing that you’ll have a glass of something “bubbly” to sip, you can steer clear of that danger.
7. Bribe yourself. If you’re facing a series of food-filled festivities, include a motivational gift for yourself in your diet and exercise plan for the week. For example, I recently stayed on my diet through a week filled with two barbecues and one birthday party. My secret weapon? I kept my eyes on the prize I had promised myself: a massage at a day spa.
So here’s a toast (in sparkling water, of course), to you and your sizzling shape all year round!