Sun and heat can only mean one thing – summer is here! But before you freak out about the thought of wearing bikinis or your favourite mini skirt, I have some tips for helping you slim down this summer.
With summer just around the corner, it’s no surprise that three out of five 18-24 year old women will start on a weight-loss kick. Sadly, only half will succeed with their weight loss goals. See, following a healthy diet and including regular exercise is one thing, but sticking to it is another. We all want to maintain our social life during a weight loss plan, so as part of MLA’s Look Good, Feel Good brochure (a weight loss plan for young women), I’ve devised 10 tips to help you slim down this summer without sacrificing the things you love.
1. Be kilojoule-wise when drinking: Summer isn’t summer without a Sunday barbecue and drinks with friends, but guzzling down too much alcohol leads to excess kilojoules and poor food choices, both of which contribute to weight gain. Choose drinks lower in kilojoules such as a shot of spirits mixed with soda water or diet soft drink. Alternating your alcoholic beverage with water is also a great way to lower the number of kilojoules you consume from alcohol.
2. Have protein at every meal: Protein-rich foods such as beef and lamb, dairy foods, eggs etc. provide critical nutrients such as iron, vitamin B12, zinc and calcium which may be lacking in your diet. Being low in iron can lead to feelings of fatigue and reduce your motivation to exercise and eat healthily. Eat iron rich foods such as beef and lamb 3-4 times a week to help meet your iron requirements. Protein-rich foods also help to keep you feeling fuller for longer, reducing the likelihood of overeating. Spread your protein intake out evenly throughout the day and include a protein serve such as beef, lamb, chicken, fish, eggs or dairy at each meal and snack. Check out the higher-protein menu planner I’ve developed by clicking on the image below.
3. Cut 420 kilojoules each day: Trim just 420 kilojoules from your daily food plan and your brain won’t even realise that you’re eating less. American Professor Brian Wansink calls this the ‘mindless margin’ and by making this small reduction to your daily kilojoule intake can equate to more than 4kg of weight loss over the year. Easy ways to trim 420 kilojoules from your daily intake include cutting out one glass of wine, or skipping the 20g of chocolate or avoiding 20g of potato crisps.
4. Sit down to eat: If you eat while you’re walking, watching television, sitting at the computer or driving, then this tip is for you! Multitasking while eating makes you overeat, as you’re not paying attention to your hunger levels or how much food you’re putting into your mouth. Overcome this by sitting down each time you eat. Slow down your eating and pay attention to taste and texture of the food, as well as your satiety levels (how full you feel). You’ll enjoy your food more and end up eating only what you need.
5. Get active outdoors to boost weight loss and feel great: Sunny skies are the perfect excuse to get active. Head to the beach for a soft sand run, go for a coastal walk or organise a game of tennis with friends. All are a great way to get some vitamin D while burning kilojoules. Aim to get outside for an hour exercise session everyday and you’ll not only lose weight, you’ll also feel better for it.
6. Fill your plate with summer rich fruit & vegetables: Summer fruit and vegetables are a fantastic way to boost your daily intake of vitamins and minerals. Vegetables in particular are low in kilojoules and add bulk to meals, helping to fill you up without providing too many kilojoules. Add some fruit to your breakfast cereal and morning snack, and get your five serves of vegetables by enjoying plenty of salads at lunch and grilling your favourite vegetables for dinner.
7. Go out for treats: Make your home and workplace ‘treat free’, so you have to make yourself work a little by going out for treats. Having to go out for a chocolate brownie or an ice cream when the cravings strike gives you time to think about whether you actually need the treat in the first place. The more hassle it is to access your divine delicacies, the less likely you are to eat them and the less damage they have on your waistline.
8. Wear your skinny jeans weekly: Throwing on a loose summer dress is hassle-free and cooling, but it also makes it hard to notice any changes in weight. Keep your weight in check by trying on your skinny jeans each Saturday night. Weekends are usually associated with downtime – we tend to eat too much without doing enough exercise to compensate, ruining our chances of long-term weight loss. Trying on your skinny jeans on Saturday night helps motivate you to stick to your healthy eating and regular exercise on weekends.
9. Treat yourself one day a week: A sustainable weight loss program includes your favourite foods, just in a controlled manner. Allow yourself treats one day a week and keep a check on the portion sizes. If you do succumb to temptation, don’t give up when you overindulge in your favourite gelato or chocolate, acknowledge your mistake and then get right back on track. Dwelling on your “poor” food choice or continuing to overindulge because you feel like there is no longer any point to trying to shed the kilos, is not productive.
10. Get your beauty sleep: With a full social calendar it’s easy to skip the slumber, but cutting back on your beauty sleep will leave you hungrier the following day. Inadequate sleep disrupts the normal release of hormones that control our hunger. The result? You’ll eat as many as 1200 extra kilojoules the following day – that’s equivalent to a Snickers bar. Aim for 7-8 hours sleep each night.
You can download a copy of the Look Good, Feel Good: A weight loss guide for young women.
Do you have a weight loss tip?