If you don’t me (I assume you do though, since my blog isn’t reaching that many people yet) I live in Wisconsin. Summer in Wisconsin is short lived. We get 2-3 solid months of “nice” weather, with a lot of day light and stuff to do out side. That means a lot of weddings, grad parties, fishing trips, day drinking etc. This also means it can be harder to stick with a nutrition or exercise program because the draws to that summer volleyball league might be pulling a bit harder than the draws to the squat rack at the gym.
Do you feel this way sometimes in the summer? I mean even for me, I am not enjoying my workouts in my basement studio as much right now. I am finding any way possible to get some of my workouts outside or at least head down to the Carroll University weight room where there are windows. I want to be outside as much as possible and take advantage of the warm weather!
Or are you doing yard work seemingly every night after work right now and there is just no time for the gym? Trust me, you are not alone here either. There is more to do and more to be done in the summer in Wisconsin than during the winter, fall or spring. This means that gym priorities can take a hit, even for seasoned exercisers. Often times that yard work turns into the ‘workout’ for the day…nothing wrong with that!
What about nutrition? Oh man this when things can really go off the deep end fast! Grad parties, Father’s day cookouts, endless weddings, day drinking and frozen pizzas etc. We know the drill. Nutrition in the summer, in Wisconsin is hard! It is really hard to stick to eating healthy. Now, there are numerous practical tips I can give so I will list a few here:
- Bring a healthy dish to each get together so you know there will be at least something that fits your plan
- Drink a protein shake 60 minutes before every party or get together to fill up your stomach.
- Drink more water!! In the summer you will sweat more and will need more to stay hydrated than in the winter months, but the extra water will help you from over eating at cookouts.
- Maybe try fasting until noon on the day of cookouts. Simply skip breakfast and lunch to save room for a larger than normal amount of calories at the cookout.
- Alcohol? This is where things get really hard. I like day drinking on the weekends in the summer, so all I am going to say here is have fun and be safe.
Practical tips are needed and can be very helpful, but I think what is more important for your success this summer in not gaining weight (notice I didn’t say “losing weight”) is having the right mindset for what is actually achievable. Again, I am realistic. Maybe almost too realistic sometimes when it comes to my coaching, but honestly lets be real here. Is summer the best time for you to be trying to lose weight? You have a grad party this weekend, a beach party next weekend, a wedding the next two weekends, a Dells trip the following, a trip up north the following weekend and not to mention your softball and volley ball league every Tuesday and Wednesday night. I think you get the point.
I am not here writing these blogs to tell you what you can and can’t do. It is your life and you by all means could lose 20lbs this summer and I would be very happy for you! But, that is not what I typically see from clients, family and friends. More often I see people crawling into September ready for a me to run a weight loss challenge because the scale says they gained 12lbs from June to August. I have had 2…count em 2…clients lose weight the past two summers I have been training. I have worked with well over 50 people in these past two years. Does this mean I am not doing my job as a trainer and nutrition coach? You might think so, but I don’t. What many of my clients do very well in the summer months is maintain the weight they had lost in the spring. That is the key! Use your summer months to enjoy life a bit more but not lose your hard earned progress from January through May. I think this is huge WIN for my clients and anyone else who is one a weight loss or lifestyle change journey. If you are constantly gaining back 10lbs in the summer of the 15lbs you lost in the spring, how will you ever see any long term results? The answer? You probably won’t.
I have written and talked extensively about why maintenance periods for weight loss are often overlooked, undervalued and simply seen as a waste of time. Maintenance periods, AKA summer in Wisconsin, are the key to your long term success! I truly mean that 100%. My clients who have figured this out are not frustrated come September with how they look and feel and don’t feel like they need to start things over.
It is Monday and my workout is sprints on the track. This means I am eating less than on a day I lift weights. Salad for lunch instead of a bunch of potatoes or rice. This cuts my calories down my 200-300 at this meal.
But, this brings me back to why I think summer is not a good time to start a weight loss journey for most people…it could be for you though…I am not saying it isn’t. Starting a weight loss journey where you are trying to be a bit more restrictive with eating and be dedicated to gym requires you to be in the right mindset and have the support system around you to succeed. When everyone else around you is going to the beach are going to go to the gym on a Saturday morning? At the day drinking and cookout event are you going to skip the booze when your friends are having a good time? Are you going to skip the cake at your sister’s wedding? Maybe you have the discipline to stick to the plan 100% and truly see amazing progress! It is not impossible. But, is it realistic if you struggle enough already in the winter to put the fork down?
Part of being successful with changing your body, health and lifestyle is the timing. It is simply not always the best time to lose weight and that is 100% OK.
This is how I am thinking about my summer…you can copy me if you want…it is working really well.
- I am not tracking calories or macros..not one day.
- I am not trying to get super lean or get super jacked or get “big.” I am maintaining where I am at and enjoying my workouts. I am not putting unneeded stress on myself to reach a specific body fat goal right now.
- I am eating more on the days I lift heavy and less on the days I run or don’t workout. I highly recommend this strategy in the summer!! My week looks like this: Sunday (no workout) is lower calories and sometimes fasting until noon; Monday I am running so that means less carbs and calories (salad for lunch); Tuesday-Friday is heavy lifting so that means more carbs (oatmeal, potatoes, rice and fruit); Saturday is whatever I want to do including a lot of beer usually. This leaves me at 5 high calorie days and two low calorie days with pretty intense exercise 5 days per week. So far, I look and feel how I want to look. No lost muscle or unwanted bodyfat gained. Maintenance.
- I am still eating enough protein (180-200g per day..everyday), still eating green veggies at two meals per day, still keeping beer to Friday and Saturday only, still keeping “cheat” meals to Friday or Saturday. My nutritional habits are not changing, but I am simply giving myself a bit more leeway on 1-2 days per week. This is the key to maintenance and not gaining weight in a “coast” mode. Once your weekly habits start to change, you might be in trouble….
- My Saturday workout is only 25 minutes because I usually have plans and want to get out of my studio. If you plan on doing a 90 minute workout on Saturday but are always cutting it short because of plans or you are hungover, it is OK to schedule a shorter workout. Be realistic about your lifestyle at the moment and not overly ambitious.
If you still want to try to lose weight this summer I will be your biggest fan and supporter, but for me, I am going to have fun (within reason) and be completely happy getting to September not any different than I was in May.