Summertime and the living AINT easy!
Ahhhh, finally! The hot, sunny weather is really here. Have you been waiting for this all year long? I know I have been dreaming about it, knowing that the summer sun would warm my frozen bones and melt away my troubles. Well, melt away almost all of my troubles. I tend to feel happier during these months: the kind of happiness that reminds me of the long summer days of my childhood. Once again, everything feels like it’s moving in slow motion, and the world seems like a kinder and friendlier place. And then comes one of those mornings when I wake up and think, “Oh boy! I forgot about the dog days!” Yes, those interminable days, weeks even, breathing air that is thick and sticky with humidity, causing my body to swell and my scale to record numbers I haven’t seen all year! Last night it took 20 minutes of pulling and twisting and finally resorting to the Windex trick to free my fingers from my rings. I thought I was going to have to go to the emergency room to get them cut off! This morning there was no relief. I awoke groggily, slowly opening my eyes as if waking from a coma. As my feet hit the floor I was shocked into consciousness by the sight of the big fat sausages that were my feet last night.
Yep, I had forgotten that with the summer comes the not-so-comfortable heat, humidity, and water retention. Ugh, it’s inevitable, I suppose, as I shuffle my way to the bathroom where I catch a quick glimpse of myself in the bathroom mirror. “Oh Lordy,” I moan aloud. “I’ve seen this face on a Cabbage Patch doll!” Swollen and oddly circular, the overall look flat and puffy, those dolls were certainly modeled after a woman just like me: late forties, menopausal, newly awake after a hot summer night… Ugh! Just then I realize that even though I just woke up, I don’t have to pee! What’s up with that? Clearly, I had forgotten another joy of summer: water retention: the big bad bloat! We all complain about it, but to tell you the truth, it is a natural function of the body that exists to ensure our survival, so all of us experience it, no matter how much we weigh. That uncomfortable bloated feeling makes even the skinny you-know-whats feel like so many water balloons, heavy and taut, contents straining to be released. This, most definitely, is not the aspect of summer we were dreaming about last January!
Are you with me? Making everything just that much more special, now’s the time to pull out those little shorts and tank tops, and the bathing suit you haven’t thought about in months. “Yikes,” you think, “Was it really this small when I put it away last year?” How unfair is life anyway? And, to boot, we just passed up the best time of the year to lose weight! Just let it pass us by, just like that, without even a how do you do! And now, here we are starting the hardest time of the year to lose weight! I know that for most of you, this news comes as a surprise, but I have only to glance back down at my sausage feet to know it’s true. The one thing we can do is to get a plan together so we aren’t doomed to a summer of bloating and ballooning. Just try to understand that it is inevitable: you will be retaining like you haven’t retained in a year if you don’t do something about it.
A hidden problem of the big bad bloat is that many of you will begin having some very dangerous thoughts. “I was good all week and I’m up!! Why bother? And anyway, it’s summer,” you might rationalize, “Everyone else is having fun, so why shouldn’t I? I deserve to, don’t I?”
“Well,” I would answer, “Yes, you deserve all the fun you can find, as long as your definition of fun doesn’t include changing your eating plan!” You deserve the fun of not throwing away all the work you have put in so far. You deserve the fun of honoring yourself and not deciding it would be a good idea just to maintain for the summer because you can easily get back on track in September. Ladies, please! These are ridiculous ideas! Think about it: you barely have it together-some of you might just be starting-and already you are considering compromising your commitment! I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad tidings, but you don’t know how to maintain them yet! Try it, and add this lovely humidity to the equation, and you will find that scale going up like the thermometer in July. Then let’s add some fun: maybe a weekly barbeque-you know, some chips, a nice gin, and tonic, a few baby back ribs-and, oh baby, “That,” as they say at the fat farm, “is that!”
So let’s just assume the summer will pose a few special challenges. There are things you can do to make it less so. My first suggestion: start pounding the water! I cannot say this enough! Double the amount you have been drinking since you are now perspiring much more. You don’t want to keep retaining, making it harder and harder to lose weight. So, no matter what it takes, drink up!
In addition, please do yourself a favor and stay away from salty foods for the next few months. I am sure that this has been a problem in the past, and it really does not have to continue. I can tell you from experience that the salty foods and snacks will do you in-even just a few bites (if you can stop at only a few) will bring your weight loss to a halt. Seriously, you could do so much damage in the next 3 months! You have worked too hard to start choosing the toxic foods of summer in place of nature’s seasonal delicacies. Why choose chips, pickles, and salty nuts, when you can enjoy vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, sweet red peppers, blueberries, and strawberries harvested with the kids at a local farm, and homegrown zucchini and lettuce?
Did I mention water? You must guzzle that water. No kidding! Check out last week’s ezine “Did You Know” column and read what I had to say about water and your liver, kidneys, and fat. In it, I explain how water aids in the body’s ability to burn fat. Start chugging, and by the end of the week, you will be pleasantly surprised to see that by merely drinking more you have dropped some weight!
Your third strategy is to have a plan for each of your social engagements. Take a look at this week’s “Tea Time” section where I talk about maneuvering through your summer vacations and weekend get-togethers. I have suggested a few tricks to make the experience enjoyable and safe! Follow them and you will set out confidently, you will not feel deprived, and you will leave proud to be on track and in control. It’s as easy as focusing on the importance of your commitment to yourself before you arrive at the neighborhood block party. Keep in mind that you are still going to eat three healthy meals a day, watch your portions, and drink gallons of water! (Oops! I think I already mentioned that, sorry!)
Lastly, please enjoy yourself. Every summer that you make it through staying true to yourself and your food plan is one less summer that you will have to go through trying to lose weight. One good summer might be all you need to get you through one good fall, and winter. Who knows? You might just approach next year’s spring and summer activities with the confidence you will learn this summer. If you stick with it for the next 12 weeks, next year you can enjoy your days and control your eating with ease! You will be able to enjoy your body in and out of a bathing suit, and you will know that you have conquered this problem with food once and for all. However, you won’t get there without having a good day today, and 12 more weeks of good days. How many future summers are you willing to give away? I hope you are ready to answer, “Not a single one!”
I‘m sorry to have to bring up all of this, but I feel obligated to remind you that it is very easy to veer off course. It only takes a second; however, that second, plus some bloating might just be enough to make you to throw in the towel. Remember temptation occurs in a single moment and can end as quickly. You are not doomed, and you have a choice: you can throw in the towel and sit on the beach in your capris and baggy top every summer, or you can just as easily spread out a towel and lie on it in your skimpy new suit next summer! You decide and Just Lose It!