Partying like a rock star all summer long may be fun, but feeling like a bloated sausage in your swimsuit might lead to the summertime blues.
Here's a few strategies you can employ now so you don't go overboard on July fourth (and the rest of the summer party season).
1) Get in a great workout before you go to your Independence Day celebration. Either the night before or the morning of, hit the gym with gusto, go for a good run or bike ride or take a nice sweaty hike with a friend or spouse or whatever . Rev up your metabolism with some light snacks before you exercise and a little something with protein and carbs right after. You'll feel less like scarfng down everything you see at the party if you don't starve yourself all morning.
2) Hydrate like crazy. Drink more, eat less -- but not in the aforementioned rock star way, of course. Sometimes we crave starchy foods when we're thirsty. So keep a cold water bottle at hand all day. On occasion, I even recommend a low or no calorie energy drink if you're feeling sluggish from the heat. Don't make it a habit, but sometimes a no-cal Red Bull or Monster-type drink will help you stay active at the beach (or wherever your party is) and keep the hunger at bay. Of course, all good things come to an end, and when the caffeine wears off, beware that you may be extra hungry so keep that water pumping.
3) Play party games, not card games. If you're going to a party or hosting one, start a game that requires people to be active. Even if you're just standing and cheering at a volleyball game or flag football, it's better to be on your feet on the sand or grass than on your behind.
4) Exercise your food options! Surely people are going to grill burgers and dogs and if budget is an issue, chances are the meat is going to be the low quality, high fat type. So splurge on bringing the right food for you. Turkey burgers or franks, chicken sausages and veggie patties are all much better for you and a lot lower in calories and heart-clogging fat. Don't forget the green salad and veggies too.
5) Watch out for the double and triple starches. If you're diabetic you already may know this from your doctor. If you're drinking beer, skip the buns and corn on the cob. If you'd rather have bread or pasta salad, don't get in line at that keg. Or go halvsies: half of a bun on your burger and a light beer is a good compromise. You get the picture. If you must have it all, have a mini serving of each. Nothing makes you feel more bloated than a starch binge and it's not muy bueno for the blood sugar either.
6) After-party hangover blues? You gotta move, but not just to the medicine cabinet for ibuprofen and Pepto Bismol! Hangovers will abate faster if you get your metabolism up and sweat. As hard as it is to get started, be sure to get some exercise and fresh air the day after (this is good advice after any celebration).
7) Post-party fasting. You just might be able to undo the damage if you give your body a break the next day. Personally I'm not a fan of regular fasting but I do understand why it has certain benefits. My grandmother did it once a month. You can do it by drinking plenty of water or juicing vegetables the next day. Or, just eat super light the day after your celebration especially if you're diabetic, exercising or suffer from hypoglycemia. Play it smart by checking with your doctor beforehand.
8) This tip is so L.A., but come late and leave early, or party hop. If you don't stay too long at any one party, you won't drink too much (particularly if you're the designated driver, I hope) and you won't have as much time to eat. It's still rude to dine and dash, right?
9) If you're not hitting the gym or doing a workout the morning of and the morning after, sleep in. Research has shown that hunger hormones balance out in your favor when you get more sleep. In one well documented study, people who slept closer to eight hours a night had lower levels of the hunger hormone ghrelin and higher levels of leptin. That's what you want because higher ghrelin levels make you feel hungry and low levels of leptin signal your body to have a bigger appetite.
10) If none of these strategies work for you, it may time for professional help. If you continue to keep gaining weight all summer, there might be a deeper, underlying problem. It may be as simple as hiring a personal trainer or health coach to get you in the habit of eating better and exercising more or it could be something more serious like depression, hormonal changes, or a combination of things. Remember there's nothing wrong with asking for help!
If you have other strategies to prevent the summertime weight-gain blues, please post your comments below!
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