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Maintaining Balance: Your Summer Nutrition and Fitness Plan

Published on: July 26, 2023

Whether you’re packing your bag (and car) for a road trip, jet-setting to a new destination, or planning a staycation locally or in your own backyard, a little summer travel is good for the mind, body, and soul. Actually, most people don’t have to go anywhere for their typical routine to change in the summer months. 

Oftentimes summer is a little more relaxed and chill. Or perhaps you find yourself with a calendar full of travel and social events. Regardless, there’s a definitive change in habits and that change can have a huge impact on your health and wellness routine. 

While a balanced lifestyle includes enjoying yourself every now and then, maintaining some sort of routine can help you feel your best. And isn’t that the goal of your vacation, anyways? To recharge and feel your best? 

So, in an effort to help you maintain a healthy balance, I’m going to share with you easy, actionable tips that will help you stay on track. Cheers to a summer of self-care!

How to Stay On Track With Nutrition 

Take Advantage of Seasonal Produce

Summer is the perfect time to indulge in an abundance of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. Whether it’s from your own garden, or from a stop at your local farmers’ market, there’s plenty to offer. While it may be common to stop at a gas station for snacks, or a trip to Bulk Barn for road-trip candy, there’s really no better time than to snack on nature’s fresh foods. I’ve never seen a bag of fresh peas last more than a couple days at our cottage, they’re eaten way before they can be incorporated into a meal. 

Pack Snacks

Whether you’re going to an event, beach, picnic, hiking, camping, road trip, flight, etc., packing snacks should be a priority. It’s so easy to go for easy grabs at the drive-thrus, gas stations, airport, ice cream parlours, etc., making it harder to stick to your desired eating plan. 

We all know that it’s hard to find a delicious smoothie bowl, veggie wrap, or protein plate while traveling, so think about what you can bring along for the trip, and also so you’re not hangry upon arrival. 

None of us make our best nutrition choices when that blood sugar drops! Here are some of our favorite travel-friendly snacks:

  • Make DIY baggies of quick-cooking oats! You can even add some cinnamon, almonds, or raisins. All you need is some hot water and a mixing bowl for a healthy on-the-go oatmeal breakfast.
  • Pack single-serve nut or seed butters. Pair it with fresh fruit (you can find apples and bananas almost anywhere) for a simple snack!
  • Make a big batch of trail mix (filled with nuts, seeds, freeze-dried fruit, even chocolate chips) and portion it into single-serve baggies.
  • If you have access to a fridge or cooler, pack healthy single-serve snacks like Greek yogurt, hummus or cheese. Pair it with fresh chopped veggies or fruit.
  • Make or purchase granola bars (the less crummy the better if you’re in the car) or energy bites filled with nuts and seeds. 

Balance Your Indulgences

Let’s face it, the allure of ice creams and summer treats is hard to resist. Instead of depriving yourself, practice mindful indulgence: indulgence, with a healthy amount of balance. Treat yourself occasionally but be aware of portion sizes. Opt for smaller portions or share with a friend. If you’re feeling creative, explore healthier homemade versions of your favorite treats using natural sweeteners and nutrient-dense ingredients.

Also keep in mind that after an indulgence, it doesn’t mean you need to throw in the towel for the rest of the day when it comes to your diet. Instead, enjoy one cocktail (or slice of pizza, ice cream, or cake… whatever it may be) and balance it out with nutrient-dense options. Maybe you enjoy your margarita with a side of raw veggies and hummus, or crowd out your plate of pizza with a big green salad. The point? Enjoy yourself in a balanced manner!

Plan Ahead for Social Gatherings

Summers can be filled with social events, picnics, and barbecues where tempting treats can test your willpower. To stay on track, plan your meals ahead of time and opt for healthier alternatives. Bring a nutritious dish to share, so you know there’s at least one healthy option available. Additionally, practice portion control and focus on savoring the company and experience rather than solely indulging in food. While some people like to “save” their calories for the big event (eating a lot less or even skipping meals before arriving), I prefer the idea of not arriving at the party starving. The hungrier you are when facing a buffet-style table of food and treats, the more you’re likely to over-do it and feel extra stuffed afterwards. 

Stock Up

If you’re out of town, a good tip is to go to the local shop to pick up fresh produce and healthy snacks you can take on the go once you arrive at your destination. This will save you some money and some calories. Most hotels these days have a mini fridge. Filling up on fresh, healthy food decreases unnecessary expenditures (both in dollar bills and calories) and allows you to truly indulge in something you really want.

Scope Out The Menus

Going out to eat? Research restaurants in the area beforehand and check out their menu online. Decide on what looks good and fits your nutritional needs in advance, and then don’t sweat about having to make a choice when you get there. 

If you find yourself stopped to eat somewhere that was unplanned, there are still ways for you to make healthy choices. Look for words like steamed, baked, fresh, roasted, seared, grilled, sauteed, spiced and avoid deep-fried, battered, crusted, creamy,  stuffed, smothered, rich, etc. Focus on protein and veggies (½ you plate of these ones). Pay attention to your portion size and take your time to eat so you can notice when you’re starting to get full. Bring home leftovers. I also recommend choosing either a drink, an app or a dessert, not all 3. 

If you’re checking out the menu and there are no healthy options that you think would fit your goals, just ask! Most restaurants are happy to customize dishes and accommodate your needs. 

Stay Hydrated

Ok so this tip is basically for whenever, but I do want to put an emphasis on it especially in the summer. We’re out in the sun, often sweating more, and our fluids need to be replenished (alcohol is not counting in this). If you’re noticing extra headaches, especially on those scorching hot days, feeling extra crabby or even extra snacky, it could be that you just need to drink more water. 

For many people, the sunny weather also means extra alcoholic drinks. Be sure to rotate between these and water, and choose your mix wisely. Calories, both from the alcohol and the mix added to the glass can add up quickly!

  • Keep a water bottle with ice whenever you leave the house. 
  • Load up your diet with water-rich nutrients like watermelon, cucumber, tomatoes, and other fresh fruits and veggies
  • Drink electrolyte-rich beverages like raw coconut water
  • Sip on refreshing herbal teas like peppermint or hibiscus (there are great cold tea lemonade drinks for the summer)
  • Infuse your water with fresh fruits like lemon, lime or mint to add flavour

Pace Yourself When it Comes to Alcohol

Summer vacations and outdoor parties often involve alcoholic beverages. While it’s fine to enjoy a drink responsibly, alcohol can be high in empty calories and dehydrating. Pacing your margaritas will help you enjoy them even more, and allow you to be more present on your vacation. If you’re going to indulge, try doing so mindfully! Instead of ordering a frozen margarita, often made with a pre-made mix that’s basically sugar, try ordering your drink of choice on the rocks, or mixed with a low-sugar base. Opt for lighter options for your drinks like spritzers or infused water, and limit your intake to maintain your nutrition and caloric goals.

If alcohol isn’t your jam and you want some fancy drinks, there are many mocktail recipes online that you can whip up and feel like you’re on a Caribbean island. Again, just be mindful of the calories you may be consuming.

Listen to Your Body

Every individual’s nutritional needs vary, and it’s essential to listen to your OWN body and what it’s telling you. Pay attention to hunger and fullness cues, and eat when you’re genuinely hungry. If you overindulge in a meal, don’t let it derail your progress, simply get back on track with your next meal.

Don’t Sweat It

Every day, every meal and every snack, you have the opportunity to make a healthy choice. Remember that a great summer doesn’t involve restricting all the time, you can definitely indulge in great food and new food experiences. Don’t let the fear of gaining weight over the summer stop you from enjoying the season!

Let go of obsessing over every single bite – it’s great to have a healthy focus, but not when it impacts your ability to enjoy life. Allowing yourself to enjoy a treat while on vacation won’t derail your progress, so balance your discipline with some freedom and flexibility. You got this!

How to Stay on Track With Fitness

Explore Options

Prior to your trip, search up movement activities for you guys to do. It could be kayaking down a river, renting an electric bike to explore the area, a guided walk in local hiking trails, or a yoga class in a nearby park. Many times when travelling to a new city, your step count will increase just by walking around and exploring. Getting steps in is super unrated when it comes to weight maintenance and is a great form of exercise! 

Keep Your Exercise App Handy

Take advantage of the hotel or resort gym, follow a workout on YouTube or download an exercise app. There are plenty of no-equipment options out there too that you can try. Les Mills on Demand and the FitOn apps are two of my favs. I like to choose a few workout videos ahead of time so it takes the guessing game out and I can just focus on pressing play.

Pack Some Light Gear

Bring resistance bands (virtually weightless and take up no room!), slider discs, or even a lightweight yoga mat. This will let you take five minutes in the morning to get in some movement and muscle burn before heading off for the day’s adventures.

Plan Your Wardrobe Accordingly

You might be like me and wear workout gear even on non-exercise days, but intentionally packing sneakers, sports bras, workout leggings, and the like, will help you pencil in some movement. Even if you’re not planning on “working out” in the traditional sense, there are plenty of ways to stay moving like I already mentioned. By packing some functional (and cute) gear, you’ll be more motivated to follow through with it. 

Stay Active Outdoors

Take advantage of the pleasant weather to engage in outdoor activities. Whether it’s a morning jog, sunrise yoga on the beach, a swim in the pool, hiking (guided or not), playing beach volleyball, an outdoor spin class, staying active can help you burn off extra calories and maintain your energy levels. Not to mention, being outdoors and active can boost your mood and overall well-being.

Be Flexible with Your Workout Schedule

You may find that it’s super easy to stick to a routine during the Fall and Winter months, but heading to the gym consistently in the summer is tough. For many of us in Canada, we want to soak up the hot weather and sun as much as we can. And that’s ok! Rather than being down on yourself for not being able to stick with your typical 5-day gym routine, change it up for the summer intentionally. Make a plan to go 3 days a week. Make a rule that sunny days are outside workout days and rainy days are inside. Put emphasis on walking more (especially during your lunch break or after supper with your family) rather than in the AC’ed gym. It’s not lost progress or a fail when you think of your exercise routine as a flexible one. 

How to Stay on Track With Self-Care

Catch Some Zzzs

Though it can be tempting to fall into the ‘sleep when you’re dead’ mentality while traveling (so much to see and do!!), try to get enough sleep so that you can feel healthy each day. You’ll have more energy for workouts, be more likely to make healthier food choices, keep your cravings in check and support your immune system while abroad. Take advantage of any down-time for a quick nap to recharge throughout the day, just be mindful that nap time isn’t in the direct sunlight. 

Make Time for Meditation

While we all hope vacations are just filled with relaxation, we all know things come up (sleepless nights, stress, anxiety, etc.). If you’re someone who meditates daily, keeping up with this practice while away is still vital. The effects of meditation are cumulative, so sticking to it while on vacation (even if it’s just a few minutes!) will help you stay on track mentally and physically. 

So, to keep you cool, calm, and collected, I recommend apps like Headspace, Stop Breathe Think, Calm, Insight Timer, Mindfulness Coach, Smiling Mind, etc., listening to a meditation on YouTube, or even bringing a small journal with you that easily fits in a carry-on or purse. 

Book Yourself a Treatment

You don’t need to go all out at the spa (unless you want to, in which case, heck yes) but try to get yourself some kind of wellness treatment while out of town on vacation. This could be a 15-minute head and neck massage, a pedicure and foot massage, acupuncture, a facial, a mud bath… whatever you’re feeling. Promoting a sense of physical and mental tranquility will help mitigate the exhaustion of traveling and (ideally) leave you feeling less drained when you get home.

Have Fun! 

Listen, vacation is about unwinding and taking care of yourself. If you ate more treats than you would have liked to or didn’t exercise as much as you planned, you can get back on track when you get home from vacation and back to routine. Vacations and summer are temporary, and the important thing is that you are in tune with your body, mind, and goals that you set for yourself. 

Staying on track with your nutrition during the summer doesn’t have to be daunting. Embrace the season by incorporating seasonal produce, staying hydrated, planning for social gatherings, and being mindful of your indulgences. Remember to stay active and listen to your body’s needs. By following these tips, you can enjoy a healthy and fulfilling summer without compromising your nutrition goals. So, go ahead and savor the joys of summer while nurturing your body and well-being!

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MEET THE AUTHOR

Kaitlyn is a registered dietitian and fitness enthusiast dedicated to helping busy women improve their health through sustainable habits.

She’s seen firsthand how difficult it can be to balance a demanding schedule with a healthy lifestyle. That’s why she is passionate about empowering women with the knowledge and skills they need to prioritize their health, even when life gets hectic.

She aims to spread the word about the power of habits and to make healthier living more manageable for busy women who are trying to do all of the things, like herself.

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