I turned around and it's June -- only to be greeted by an abundance of rain, sticky subway cars and an overuse of the cliché icebreaker "where did the year go" ringing from the rooftops. We get it summer, point made loud and clear -- you're here to stay until the bookend of Labor Day kicks you to the curb (along with white pants and your East Hampton share house).
I have conflicting feelings about summer in New York. On the one hand, I find that New Yorkers appear happier, energized and more health-focused during the timespan of May to August. I don't have statistics for that; I'm just innately sensitive to my environment and moonlight as a professional people-watcher. New Yorkers are inspired to exercise more regularly (gold medal to the gentleman who recently started running 50 laps around my block every morning) and make better dietary choices, in obvious dread of bathing suit season. For some, summer is definitely motivating and provides reason to get back on track after a long winter -- but others live in fear of one too many lobster rolls, hamburgers or bottles of Corona. It's scary out there, guys! As dramatic as that sounds, these fears are not unfounded. With the influx of summer getaways, weddings, graduation parties, BBQs (let's throw in Sunday afternoons, for fun), even the most disciplined person would have difficulty staying afloat. Summer feels like a perpetual vacation -- which is a fabulous and much- needed break from our real lives -- however, eating like we are on a constant vacation will only make us feel lethargic and elicit a less than stellar impact on our waistlines.
So let's get down to business. It's very easy to fall off the wagon while inundated with all of these food-focused events. But as I've said before, the key to life and food is balance and moderation, so no need to run for the hills at the sight of the guacamole bowl. Speaking of guacamole, if you are at a BBQ or other event where appetizers or snacks are served prior to the main meal, use a small plate to help guide appropriate portion sizes. Place appetizers on a plate and sit down to enjoy them, instead of picking and grazing all afternoon. This is where most people get into trouble, as they are unaware of how many calories they are consuming by mindlessly munching on appetizers. The chips and mini hotdogs add up!
Obviously don't restrict yourself from these goodies, but it's important to put these food items on a plate and sit down. Trust me, you will consume many fewer calories this way than if you try to dodge the plate situation and pick all afternoon. No one likes a double dipper anyways. It is also crucial to avoid arriving at an event in a state of utter starvation (my mom taught me this piece of advice years ago and it always stuck with me- thanks mom!) I get it, you want to save your appetite for all the delicious food coming your way, but let me tell you, this is a lose- lose situation. Here's why -- if you arrive ravenous to a party, you will likely go overboard on appetizers, consuming an excess of calories and ruining your appetite for the main attraction. If you have a small snack prior, you will feel satisfied and be able to focus your sights on more important elements, like socializing, as opposed to the chip bowl. On that note, alcohol also absorbs faster on an empty stomach and that's not a good look on anyone. So err on the side of caution and have a small, protein- rich snack before leaving the house--you'll thank me later.
Although I do believe that the scale is beneficial for weight management, it is important to recognize that if you gain a few pounds after a weekend vacation or wedding circuit, this number is not a permanent fixture. Do yourselves a favor next time and don't hop on the scale the day after a big party or trip -- your body needs time to adjust and normalize appropriately. We all fluctuate so the scale shouldn't dictate how you think of yourself or squash your good feelings from the previous weekend. Pick yourself up and keep moving forward. A few days of clean and mindful eating will push that number right back down. So moral of the story -- whether you pride yourself on strong self- discipline or not, summer is hard for all of us. The temptation is overwhelming and all of the traveling on weekends makes it difficult to establish a solid routine. But New Yorkers are always up for a challenge. Don't allow yourself to get caught in the pitfalls of your summer social calendar. Think for yourself, always come prepared and most importantly, enjoy spending time with family and friends -- and if all else fails, take comfort in the fact that Labor Day will arrive before you know it.
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