Monday, May 31, 2010

Summer: sun, warmth and hot dog eating contests

Summer temptation embodied:  the Shake Shack, located right outside my office building

How did this happen so fast.  It seemed like three days ago that the weather was 40F and raining.  Every day.  Now it's Memorial Day Weekend, and the weather could not be any more perfect.  It's summer, and that makes me happy in ways that I could never hope to express.  Everything is fairly perfect except for one nagging concern:  falling off the healthy life wagon.

I know that I'm not alone in the paradox of summer weight gain.  I say paradox because everything about Summer should lend itself to the healthiest of healthy choices.  On it's face, summer brings a life fully lived outdoors, and I hate being inside during the warm months (even writing this blog right now is crimping my sun seeking lifestyle -- and it's only 10 AM).  Summer is about (or should be about) light foods.  Every fruit and vegetable seems to be in their most glorious splendor.  This is the time of farmers' markets and the resplendent produce section of my grocery story (particularly now that a Whole Foods just opened in my town).

I don't have the statistics handy, but I seem to recall hearing that many, many people gain weight during the summer.  I did find one interesting data source from the American Journal of Public Health regarding kids and summer weight gain:

"Dr. Paul von Hippel and his colleagues found that the Weight Gain scenario happens much more often. In fact, the average child gains significantly more weight during the summer than during the school year. This was true for all children, but especially so for overweight children."  Here is the link to a PDF of the original article...  The Effect of School on Overweight in Childhood: Gain in Body Mass Index During the School Year and During Summer Vacation

What is apparently true for kids has historically definitely been true for me:  Summer = weight gain and habit slacking.  The interesting question is why?

Here are the theories that at least explain me:

  • Lack of structure:  I'm guessing that this is the big one for many people, and it definitely is for me.  During the school year, I'm on a pretty standard routine with every day seeming to be heavily scheduled and frequently over-busy.  With summer comes a complete change in the daily rhythm, particularly on weekends but even on weekdays.  The kids are out of school, and they are at sleep-away summer camp for a few weeks in July.  There aren't many weekend sports and practically no weekend schlepping.  As they say, idle hands are the devil's instruments.  Not having a pre-programmed game plan results in wandering around the kitchen at odd intervals coupled with mindless grazing.  
  • Socializing:  summer lends itself to spending quality time with friends at the beach, in the back yard, etc.  All of the sudden everyone who lives in my neighborhood is outside, happy and social. All of the sudden, al fresco dining is out in complete force throughout New York city.  It's hard not to get swept up into the revelry, only to find myself at the wrong end of about 17 bad nutrition choices.  
  • Vacation slothfulness:  a bit cliche, but this is nonetheless a truism for me.    
Now that I look at the list, it looks pretty solvable given a willingness to submit myself to one basic premise:  having a plan.  With that said, here is my Summer action plan:
  • Push exercise a little over the edge:  given the extra socializing, I need to plan to increase the calories burned part of the energy deficit equation.  For me that means keeping up with my existing routine of weights and gym-based cardio and adding on the outdoor activities that I love. In my case, that's primarily cycling and secondarily tennis.  
  • Staying busy on weekends:  starting with the aforementioned outdoor activities, I plan to add a range of chores, projects and excursions/walks to keep me out of the house as much as humanly possible.  Even reading at the local pool has it's benefits as it is a full three miles from my refrigerator.  
  • Staying disciplined during meal time:  just because it's summer does mean that my beloved oatmeal/fruit medley has to hibernate until it gets cold again.  Same goes for my regular lunch.  
  • Get my fruit on:  I am lucky in that I am a person who lives for fruit, all fruit, any fruit.  Keeping a big inventory in the home and at the office will help me stay righteous.  
  • Look forward to light foods:  summer should be an easy time to make good choices, and will be if I stay on the look out for them when I'm out.  For me, this means lots of fish, grilled vegetables and salads with non-fat dressing.  
  • Keep getting weight-in's:  when I'm out of my normal routine, it's more important than ever to man-up and get on the scale on a regular basis so that I have an early intervention system in place should I go off course.  
What are all of you doing to gird yourself during the seductive sunny season?




  1. Ahhh, and I was 100% sure that this week's post would somehow include the phrase 'man girdle'! ;o)

  2. New dog...who needs to exercise daily. And having a Greyhound does not mean you are sauntering along the forest path. This guy needs to move to stay in synch with his reason for being..and I am at the end of the lead. Lucky dog, luck me.

  3. Signing up for races. Ran 10 miles this weekend, and looking online for more races to run this summer.

  4. Bringing main item to picnic that I know I can have

  5. It may sound terrible, but I tend to let myself get extremely overheated on purpose. As in, I will leave off the air conditioning and let myself sweat it out. NOTHING makes you not want to overeat like being in sweltering heat. I find myself, simply by not turning on the air conditioning, eating lighter foods.

  6. Its too hot in Georgia to walk around all covered up so the thought of having to be half naked, keeps me going to the gym...its also too hot to eat real food so for me fruit and and salads are what I live on. I just gotta drink more water its not my fav but I am learning to like it. I have lost almost 20 pounds in 2 months using weight watchers and exercising daily. I have another 50 to go and its getting hotter by the day less bulk food and more not easy but its worth it...

  7. Stay away from concession stands! At baseball games I bring a cooler w/veggies, water & a sandwich on lite bread...and if the team stops for ice-cream I still have points left for a scoop of sherbet!

  8. I attend my weekly WW meeting and weigh in which keeps me accountable and on track. I love making grilled vegetables and mixing them into couscous salads and even though the weather has turned warm I still enjoy soups made with vegetables that are readily available this time of year.

    Instead of walking on my lunch hour I come into work earlier and walk before work to put my day into perspective.

  9. Beverly said :::: I buy diet cranbury juice 5cal 8oz,,,,a few ice cubes,,,one are two strawberrys,,i pineapple slice,,,and blend,,,,its is so good, while everyone eles are haveing their ice cream are drinks im haveing mine

  10. i'm thinking of hanging around my house in bikinis all summer - because i don't think i'm going to want to snack while staring at my excess lbs (and my husband will love it). also, keeping my gym routine - even upping it, and lots of salads (which thankfully, i enjoy eating).

  11. Since I'm a teacher and I'll have the summer off I plan to work out more often. Also, we get produce from a CSA so every week I get a few bags of produce that I need to use up. This lends itself to healthy eating. I find the socializing part the hardest, especially at picnics/dinners in which I am not in charge of the food. Really hard to eat a filling meal that won't blow your points when you're surrounded by only high point foods.

  12. Although I'm a lifetime member, I still weigh in every week and attend the meetings. Not to be accountable to someone else, but to keep in the front of my mind what is most important - staying on track.

  13. Very encouraging to this woman who is struggling with it all!

  14. Training for a 5 K walk, which will be in 2 weeks. Walking almost daily with my WW buddy. Bought a WW pedometer and having fun setting goals to see how many activity points I can earn in one day. Earned 7 today...the most so far.

  15. I enjoy your blog and like the general direction of some of the new innovations and trends I have seen with Weight Watchers International. A few that come to mind are a) the Weekly mini-magazine handed out at the meetings, b) having a human spokesperson, & c) the newest books and cookbooks. I have had a great experience as a member and have found many things about your company that I really enjoy. There is a great difficulty, however, finding a way to contact a human being regarding the user interface for the online community. Sending an email and then receiving an automated electronic answer that clearly does not address the concern is very unsatisfactory to me as the consumer. Is there someone within your organization whose job description includes receiving authentic feedback from actual users of the site? I have multitudes of friends and contacts within the community who would like to offer a review of the updated version. I apologize for posting this question here, but I cannot see another recourse and I thought you would appreciate knowing that there is a growing level of concern and dissatisfaction among customers of the eTools who rely on the other online resources. Respectfully, Liz Bohn (alzabees)

  16. Hi! I, just, became a lifetime member last Tuesday with 50 pounds gone since September. I have a fruit basket on the table, oatmeal on hand, and Cystal Light Pure Fitness. I track everyday, despite being buzy with my job, taking care of my physically disabled husband, sister who is developmentally disabled, and babysit grand kids. I take care of myself, first.

  17. And, oh... I'm running my first 5K this Saturday! Before, I couldn't run a quarter of a block! I keep focused on the goal ahead of me and never give up, no matter what happens. Take a day at a time and before you know it, you're there!

  18. Hello - Just wanted to agree with Liz that there are some issues with the new WW site that need to be addressed. In particular, it is much more difficult now to determine if a community member has his/her own blog. If someone writes a particularly insightful post on a message board or on another user's blog, I often check to see if they write their own blog. But this is really difficult with the new community site. As someone who is active in the blogging world, I'm sure you can appreciate this concern. Thanks for listening! (Or reading, rather...)
    -- Kimberly (lunatekke2 on the WW community)

  19. Well, I'm going to Shake Shack this week, that much I can tell you. Thanks a lot, Dave!! LOL
    Seriously though, in answer to the main question in your post, I am spending as much time as possible outdoors doing physical activities--either gardening, or swimming, or chasing my kids/dogs/combination of the above around. I'm also grilling healthy dinners as often as humanly possible, which would be easier if it weren't basically fall weather here in NY! I'm also being very, very careful about alcohol intake, which for me is easy to rack up points on during the summer--two beers is great, so isn't four much better? Nope.