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What’s your history for weight management in the summer? I love this quote and it’s just right for the 4th of July: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” (George Santayana)

With the 4th of July just a few days away and most of the summer stretching ahead, it’s way too easy to relax and  gain weight during the summer.  Many of us (from past experience) could honestly switch the lyrics of that old Gershwin tune “Summertime and the livin’ is easy” to “Summertime and the gainin’ is easy” because we’ve proved it more than once!

At no other season besides Christmas is it as easy to casually discard our new health habits like soiled paper plates after a picnic.  Not too long ago, I got an email that told a story most of us know only too well:

“A month ago, I was journaling, drinking my water, planning my meals and snacks ahead of time and SO excited about the nearly 10 pounds I’d carefully lost. We went on vacation, I put everything aside, and gained 6 pounds over the two weeks we were gone. It’s probably more now, but I don’t’ want to get back on the scale and I can’t seem to snap back into gear. Arrghghgh! I’m so disgusted with myself!”

Another e-mail from a reader who had just returned from a holiday says, “I need a vacation after my vacation! There was way too much food and way too much stress!”

These letters reflect the typical result of a less than cheery truth that most people (some studies show up to 97%) who try to lose weigh, may lose about 6% of their body weight (usually 10-15 pounds) then put it all back in five years.

This less than new “news” goes with the fact that often the bad guy for weight gain is STRESS! While vacations are meant toreduce stress, most holidays have some level of emotional or physical demands that are not part of daily life at home that become … well … stressful!

“Most of us become overeaters when we’re feeling a lot of pressure. This happens thanks to your fight-or-flight response, a.k.a. survival mode — once your body reaches a certain stress level.  At this point, it does what it feels it needs to do. In most cases, that means to overeat.

Why? “Because your body thinks you’ve used calories to deal with your stress, even though you haven’t,” says Pamela Peeke, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Maryland. As a result, it thinks you need to replenish those calories, even though you don’t.”

Rats subjected to stress environments and offered high-fat foods gained more weight (around their abdomens, no less –the most unhealthy place for we humans  to carry fat) than rats offered high fat foods only. (Washington Post, July 2, 2007; study by  The Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University.)

The good news is that we’re NOT rats, and we’re NOT participants of a doom and gloom study, but much loved children of our Heavenly Father, born with infinite potential and the power to change, grow and fill the measure of our creations. Stephen R. Covey, our brother in the Gospel, shares a true principle that is of far more value to us than any depressing scientific report:

Every human has four endowments: 1) self -awareness, 2) conscience, 3) independent will and 4) creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom: The power to choose, to respond, to change.

That’s more like it! No matter where you live or when your country celebrates its national patriotic holiday, it’s a choice to make every day a personal declaration of independence. Is there any freedom more important than the personal freedom that comes through self-mastery with Heavenly Father’s assistance?

With that being the general big picture, here are some specific quick “weight-loss made easy” tips for summer traveling and holidays: Begin with the end in mind: Picture yourself returning home with the scale at about the same place as when you left and you’ve succeeded! Generously allow yourself to center notso much on losing weight, but on not losing momentum!

It’s easy to stay focused by implementing the following five powerful choices. Count them off on one hand as you read them now: 1) move, 2) choose, 3) eat, 4) see, 5) remember. Now, say to yourself in an enthusiastic voice: “Action!” as you adopt the following for your holidays this year:

1. “I MOVE!” Plan for some form of physical activity every day

Take a brisk walk at the airport while waiting for flights. If you don’t have someone to leave the luggage with, think of it as built-in gym equipment or weights as you carry it along. Get the brochures and see the sights around wherever you’re staying, or just walk the streets. Go to the playground with the kids after a day visiting relatives or spent in the car – and actually play! Run around, climb some steps, push some swings!

Get up in the morning instead of sleeping in and walk, walk, walk. It’s always more fun in a new place. It’s a choice to create some energy and memories through physical activity. 

Some of my favorite experiences when staying with others have been getting up early before the others and walking briskly through a new neighborhood!

The truth is that one of the best parts of a vacation is that it  can easily be a source of LOT of walking with sightseeing, having to park a distance from your activity, etc.  This is a great and leisurely way to say good-bye to some of the extra calories!

2. “I CHOOSE!” Choose your food. Don’t let the food choose you

Anticipate what’s going to be served on the airplane, on the road, at the restaurant or at Aunt Lucy’s. None of us make wise choices when we’re hungry, so plan accordingly with snacks and water. Consider the snacks and meals you traditionally have on a road trip and make a decision to enjoy different foods than past years. Carry a cooler with crisp veggies, peeled fruit and water bottles.

On our road trips, we always carry a small, sharp knife for cutting up fruit and veggies from the cooler and some picnic paper plates and plastic cutlery.   

Why? Because It’s as easy to stop at a grocery store and find some healthy choices in the produce department  (that we wash off with bottled water from the car or in our hotel room) as it is to buy food at the gas station stores with all the candy and soda.  The pre-packaged salads in the produce department are so helpful, healthful and delicious!

With that being said, it’s a good idea TO enjoy one small treat each day or so. In a recent article I published, the recommended sugar grams (although it varies quite a bit from one health pro to the next) is easy to remember:

4 Grams = 1 Teaspoon
Women’s  daily  amount: 24 grams = 6 tsp.
Men’s daily amount: 36 grams = 9 tsp.

So just look at that food label! When you see that a small ½ cup serving of ice cream contains 18 grams of sugar… well there’s the picture! Do you really want that teeny little half cup that has all that sugar? Maybe you do, and that’s great if that’s your sugar for the day!  It’s so much easier to make a wise and conscious food choice when you have the facts and maturely accept them.

The recommended amount is a small, child-sized cone or a couple of small cookies and vacations are for having fun and relaxing!  

So here’s an important side note: Did you know that one of the kindest, best things you can do for those around you to help THEM be happy is to simply BE HAPPY YOURSELF.  

Enjoying a small daily treat with those you love is not a sin! Savor and relish each bite, but be an adult and when the choice and purpose have been fulfilled, for example ice cream cones with the family, you’re done.  You don’t need more when you’re alone and everyone else has gone to bed.

And especially not when the day has been a little stressful, you’re tired and/or frustrated with relationships or events of the day.

3.  “I EAT!” Breakfast and lunch are essential. 

Skipping meals only prepares your metabolism to slow down and makes you more inclined to overeat at your next meal. Eat mindfully, use the clock and you will be able to enjoy and have calories to spare for that treat   It’s a truth that no one makes healthy choices when they’re hungry, so make sure that regular, nourishing meals are a priority.

4. “I SEE!” Portions matter, even on vacation. 

Enough saidWe had dinner with a delightful friend on Sunday who is now down more than 18 pounds with portion control alone.

5. “I REMEMBER!” 

Ah, yes! Our quote for the day: “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Actively remember how uncomfortable your stomach and digestive tract feels after too much sugar or over-indulging for several days in a row.  Reflect on past experiences of how your moods, mental clarity and stress levels immediately deteriorated with too much sugar.  Recall intellectually how calorie-loaded and sugary soft drinks may taste great at the moment, but they do not quench thirst and may actually increase thirst as your body processes the many unhealthy ingredients.

Most importantly, however, remember to forgive yourself and make up for poor choices on one day with increased exercise and decreased calories over the next day or two. 

I love the quote “Angels fly because they take themselves lightly” and so can we … especially when we remember that we don’t have to wait until we get back home to get focused.  We can start that very hour and the very next day.

As an added thought: Water, water, water to keep yourself hydrated and things moving! 

FYI: A quick daily, gentle detox may also help on vacation! Throughout the years we have helped a great, great many people keep their digestive systems regular and cravings in control while on vacation with our herbal detox travel capsules.  If you haven’t tried them yet, they are on sale this week and you even get one extra week free!  We recommend getting them a couple of weeks before the vacation to try them out ahead of time so you’ll know how your body responds. CLICK HERE TO LEARN MORE

With these choices comes the ultimate freedom of willingly stepping on the scale when we return home and easily snapping back into routines and habits that provide energy and self-esteem. Doesn’t that feel just fabulous?

Now THAT’S a vacation!

Carolyn Allen is the Author of 60 Seconds to Weight Loss Success, One Minute Inspirations to Change Your Thinking, Your Weight and Your Life. She has been providing mental and spiritual approaches for weight loss success both online and in the Washington, DC community since 1999 presenting for Weight Watchers, First Class, Fairfax County Adult Education and other community groups. 

She and her husband, Bob, are the parents of five children and grandparents to a growing number of darling grandchildren. They are now happy empty nesters in Jackson, Tennessee, close to Memphis, where they center their online business for an amazing herbal detox that is on sale this week!  CLICK HERE!