Summertime Fun: How to Stay Healthy at Summer Parties
It's finally here! Summer time is now here, and at least in Chicago, it appears it is here to stay. This also means that summer parties are beginning: Grill outs and sporting events every weekend. Being a social athlete means you will be invited to these parties because even though we train hard, we like to have fun still. This can mean a lot of temptations to not help our training through food and drinks. Because I struggle with the same temptations and have high athletic goals, I wanted to share my tips for staying smart this summer.
Tips & Tricks for Summer Parties
-Fill your plate with side dishes filled with vegetables first. No matter how the dish is prepared, more vegetables is better than less. It will not only help you get your daily vegetables in, but also help get you full to avoid overeating the sweets later.
-Avoid sugary drinks! We all love the summery drinks like lemonade and cocktails, but the tend to be high in sugar. To enjoy without hindering training, water down the lemonade, grab unsweetened ice tea and add your own sweetener such as honey or maple syrup. For sugar cocktails, make your own and share! Try this
-Have those protein + fat snacks on hand. When you know you are going to a party with lots of temptations, make sure that you have a protein snack before stepping foot into the party. Having a snack before will make sure you are not hungry while at the party and keep you from feeling backed into a corner that you have to eat the food there.
-Be mindful and keep hands full. Be aware of what you are eating and drinking. Sounds simple, but lots of times at parties we can get caught up in a conversation and suddenly find ourselves having consumed 3 beers. Be careful of mindless eating and drinking and keeping your hands full with items like water or a plate with vegetables (because every party has some sort of veggie platter).
-Arm yourself, but don't guilt yourself. Doing all the above things can help you fight temptations and stay on track, but if you have a craving for a dessert or a dish, don't feel guilt for eating it. Self-inflected guilt is the worst kind of guilt, as you mentally punish yourself for having enjoyed something your body wanted. Punishing yourself for a craving can lead to a negative cycle of viewing food as an enemy, when it is our fuel. Practice forgiveness of yourself and acceptance of your choices and you'll be amazed at how your results and goals still can come true.
For those endurance athletes, summer parties on Saturday or Sunday afternoons can be hard, as you complete a long run/ride/swim/etc. and then have a party to go to afterwards. Refueling the rest of your day is important for faster recovery and rebuilding of your stressed body, so here are my additional pointers for endurance athletes at parties:
-Refuel within 45 minutes of workout. If you have a workout lasting more than 90 minutes, you want to refuel with a snack/meal of 3-to-1 carbohydrate to protein within 45 minutes to rebuild muscles effectively. Doing this not only helps you as an athlete, but also helps you from consuming foods not ideal for rebuilding muscles. You can control your rebuilding :)
-Hydrate! It's summer time so whether you are a heavy sweater or not, hydration is key for recovery and performance. After a workout, be sure to consume 24 oz of water per pound of body weight lost [This is if you weigh yourself before and after a long run/ride. This ensures you re-hydrate properly.] If going to a party, you can carry your own water bottle to control your water intake, but also maybe throw a Nuun tablet in there for a lower sugar option for a drink.
Now every party won't be a temptation and not every party will you go in completely ready to fight temptation, but know where your weaknesses are and then prepare yourself to challenge them. All this not only helps you towards your goals, but also helps you become a better athlete.