Summer is a time for enjoyment—escaping to a white sand beach; devouring halo-halo; making out-of-town Holy Week plans; and essentially rewarding the hard work you’ve put in all year, with treats in all various forms.
Why not? You deserve it, right? When it comes to saving up cash and vacation days to take the much-needed time to relax and reenergize—I’m all for it. However, when you diet and train hard for that awesome body you plan to flaunt in a cute bikini, and you intend to reward yourself by indulging in decadent dishes and skipping those daily gym sessions—please don’t.
That’s not a reward. Having a beautiful, healthy body IS the reward. I urge to you keep up the good work, and I promise you can stay fit, and still enjoy these festive, summer months to the fullest. Here are a few of my tips to make sure that is the case.
Keep moving every day, numerous times a day
While on vacation, the one thing I try to do no matter where I am in the world is to start my day with a walk. It’s a habit I’ve developed—I wake up, drink black coffee, and either jump on the treadmill or walk outside for 30 minutes to an hour. I do this to wake up my metabolism first thing. I still, of course, aim to lift weights three times a week, but no matter how my day goes; I’m rest assured that I got some active minutes in the day.
Falling asleep on a sandy beach sounds amazing—but why not swim, kayak or jog first, then fall sleep on the beach? If you’re heading out of town, it might be extra difficult to hit the gym for your typical workout routine and stay active, but there are various ways to keep moving without the gym. If you’re near the water, engage in water activities like paddle boarding, kayaking, diving and just simple swimming. If you’re not by the shore, but still outside the city, go on a trail and hike, or power walk while sightseeing. If you’re staying in the city and would like to escape the heat, hit the mall and make sure to brisk walk, and walk up and down the escalator. When in doubt, just walk, walk, and walk some more!
I find that eating well is often times more challenging than staying active. Personally, saying no to ice cream can just about bring me to tears! As a nation that loves complex carbs, such as pasta, rice, and bread, and sugary goodies, like kakanin and cake, one can encounter plenty of bad diet choices when you’re on break.
When I’m not strictly counting my calories and macros, and can’t prepare my own food, I follow these simple guidelines to make sure I don’t backslide too much:
1) Avoid liquid calories
I like to eat my calories rather than drink it. Most drinks other than water are often laden with sugar and even carbs, with little to no nutritional value. I stick to black coffee in the morning and good ole refreshing water throughout the day. If I really am craving for some more flavor, I’ll drink infused water, unsweetened tea, and sometimes diet or stevia soda. I wasn’t a fan of carbonated drinks, but diet soda has become my last resort when I can’t deny the sweet craving. Avoiding these empty calories, allow me to eat substantial ones in the form of whole foods that will provide my body the nutrients it needs. This philosophy stays true when drinking alcohol. I personally only have a few drinks in a year, but when I do, I steer clear of the sugary cocktails and mixers, and stick to vodka or gin with a splash of soda, and a slice of lime—minimal calories, same alcoholic punch!
2) Eat lean and leafy
Lean protein and leafy vegetables, that is. Speaking of nutrients, I try my best to choose grilled chicken or fish as my protein, with a side of vegetables as my carbs to round out my meals. Protein is an important building block for your muscles; and muscles are what keeps your metabolism churning; hence keeping your body burning fat. Do you need any more reason to eat protein than that? Also, I try to choose vegetables with every meal in place of complex carbs. Did you know that vegetables are also classified as carbohydrates? With this in mind, eating rice and bread because “you need the energy” is not a valid reason, unless you’re currently heavily training. Much better to eat vegetables—the dark green and leafy kind. Not only will you get the fiber you need and more nutrients than you would have gotten from starchy carbs, but you’ll avoid the energy crash and bloating.
3) Healthy snacking
I highly discourage snacking. It is often a mindless, nasty habit that leads to unnecessary calories. A bag of chips here, a handful of peanuts there, and a stack of crackers later, and you can easily eat a meal or two worth of calories without much protein, but with plenty of sodium, carbs, and sugar. The worst part is, you often intend to only eat a few pieces of chips or nuts, and then you realize you’ve eaten the entire bag. You know what I mean!
With this in mind, sometimes it’s very difficult to avoid snacking when summer travel and social events come into play. When I’m out and about, I always keep a small bag of raw almonds or a protein cookie in my purse. Whether I’m stuck in traffic or on the beach with friends, and hunger or cravings hit me in between meals, I take a bite of either one. Raw almonds (not salted, roasted, sugared or fried!) are rich in good fats and protein. Also, be careful with which protein cookies you choose. I pick the ones that have the lowest sugar content and the highest grams of protein so it’s more satisfying. If you can, make your own! I also make sure to drink plenty of water. Sometimes the craving is simply my body telling me that I need hydration in this hot, humid weather. You’d be surprised how many hunger pangs and cravings I’ve curbed when I simply drank water.
Love your body
The tips I mentioned above are all physical, but there’s something to be said about the mental aspect of maintaining a healthy and strong bikini body. A bikini is essentially just a piece of clothing (a very small one too!). It’s our bodies that give it it’s sexiness. No matter how you got to this point—smart, healthy long-term choices or crash dieting and over training, I strongly encourage you to admire the body you have and want to treat it well. For me, wellness as a primarily goal over aesthetics, has made me healthier, stronger, and happier—not to mention also leaner!
Incorporate healthy eating habits and exercise often because of self-love. Yes, looking good is an awesome motivator, but what happens when you get your body in the shape you want? You’re more likely to stick to this healthy lifestyle for the long haul, if your goals are also long term. And, that fit bikini body will not only come, but will be here to stay.