As a personal trainer, I witness a pattern every year.
The holidays come and go, and with all of the parties and delicious treats comes the inevitable weight gain. January rolls around, and contrary to popular belief, most people don’t act right away on their New Year’s resolution to lose weight — probably because they are still trying to recover, both emotionally and financially, from the madness.
Oh sure, there are the rare few who hit the ground running, but in my experience, the fitness rush doesn’t start until the end of February or early March. I meet with individuals who have summer vacation plans and want to look their best, people who aren’t seeing their holiday weight melting away, people whose metabolism has slowed as they age, and on and on. By the end of April, my calendar is full!
But then this weird phenomenon happens. The weather turns warm and I see my clients less and less. The progress they were so proud of making starts to slow, as does their motivation.
I don’t blame them. I know it’s hard to keep a schedule when the kids are home from school.
Then there are family activities, vacations, reunions and parties. It almost makes the school year and holiday activities pale in comparison. We all fool ourselves that the busyness makes up for our lack of healthy eating and physical activity, when in actuality the scale is slowly creeping up again.
So, how do you break the pattern? How do you keep your diet on track when your kids are off track? Here are a few of my favorite pointers to break the cycle.
1. Involve Your Kids in your Routine or Establish New Ones Together!
Kids crave routine as much as we do. Why not establish a fitness routine that involves your kids? This can be something as simple as going for a family walk or bike ride every morning at the same time. There are also many online family-friendly workout videos out there, if that’s more your speed.
2. Teach Healthy Eating Habits and Involve Your Kids in Meal Planning.
I love teaching about nutrition and designing balanced meals because once you know the basic principles, it’s so easy to follow! Every meal should contain a balance of healthy macronutrients: protein, carbohydrates and fats. Teach your kids what foods make up each macronutrient and have them help you plan meals.
At breakfast ask your kids, “What should our healthy protein/carb/fat be?” Then ask them the most important question: “How can we add in some vegetables?” This can be almost anything they can come up with, from a veggie scramble to baby carrots on the side. Just go with it — if it’s their idea. they are more likely to eat them.
3. Don’t Let Family Vacations or Activities Derail Your Nutrition!
Wouldn’t it be great if you came back from a vacation and hadn’t gained weight? It’s totally possible! All it takes is a little extra planning.
Ever notice the times when you eat the most junk food are when you’re so hungry just about anything will do? A burger, a hot dog, chips, a candy bar… the I’m so hungry I’ll eat anything foods. To avoid this, pack a variety of healthy snacks in a small bag or cooler that you can bring with you on the road, to most amusement parks, on a plane or even just to the park.
When eating out, find a healthy protein, carbohydrate, fat and veggies — just like you would if you were at home. Try to add more healthy carbs when you are going to be active, and limit or omit carbs in the evening when you are winding down.
4. It’s Not Just the Kid Activities You Have to be Prepared For.
Social functions present another set of unique challenges. Again, preparation is the key to your success.
My approach is twofold. First, I always offer to bring a healthy side dish. That way I know there will be at least one healthy option. Second, I eat smaller-portioned meals throughout the day so that I can indulge a little at the party and keep my overall calorie consumption the same for the day. Remember to still watch your portions sizes! Because having a sample-size scoop of your host’s famous potato salad will go a long way toward keeping friendships healthy and ensuring you get another invite next year!
The more we can treat being healthy as a year-round lifestyle choice and not something we do when it’s convenient or we have an event to get ready for, the better our metabolism becomes. You will find you not only look and feel better, but you will also have the energy to keep up with your kids!
chicken, turkey, beef, fish and seafood, egg (whites)
whole wheat grains and pasta, fruit, oats, beans, rice, starchy veggies
nuts and seeds, nut butters, olives, avocado, olive oil, fatty meats (salmon, beef)
Summer Milkovich is a personal trainer and nutrition coach at The Fit Stop. She is a three-time fitness competitor and received her formal training from the National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM), where she holds both her Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) and Fitness Nutrition Specialization (FNS). Summer offers one-on-one personal training and couples training, and is the creator of “Bikini Body by Summer,” a results-based 90-day small group personal training program.