Guest Blog: A Sustainable Summer & Vacation Mindset

Monday, May 27, 2019

Summer can be a great time for sharing with friends, family, and taking some time to relax and vacation. It can be a time to reconnect, rejuvenate, and revitalize. How can we make this relevant for the bariatric mindset in the summertime?

This is the time of year when there is a great opportunity for eating healthy. However, there are many who fall into the old habit of eating off track during vacations making it a 'free-for-all' leaving them discouraged upon returning. This can cause individuals to experience a push-pull with vacation times. It can also be a signal of emotional eating.

While there are many factors for creating lasting lifestyle change, among them are: fostering a healthy eating mindset, mastering one's mood and mental health, food choices, and motivation, all can help.

Being on vacation should be fun and relaxing. Keeping with your eating protocols or eating program is also essential for staying on track in the long-term.

Of course there is always room for allowances and splurges but if the entire vacation is a splurge, returning to a strict plan can cause people to fall back into the diet mentality.

The reason this is not preferred is because it causes a cycle of deprivation followed by out of control behavior. Having consistent behaviors even while on vacation can help individuals feel more in control no matter the situation. It can also help to sustain a healthy weight.

Creating a vacation mindset to include healthy eating patterns can help you prevent weight gain while away. Additionally, the purpose isn't just staving off weight; it's also to help prevent feeling deprived and enjoying yourself while away.

If you see vacation as a place to eat off track, it could be that this is part of the old pattern. Lifestyle change is about creating patterns of eating for the rest of your life, not for a short period of time. Similarly, you can enjoy your vacation eats and have a good time. Eating on vacation can be balanced, fulfilling, and enjoyable.

It's about shifting your mindset around how you see food during this time that helps you to stay on track.

Here are some of my top tips for sustaining lifestyle change when on vacation: 

1. Focus on Protein and Veggies (healthy carbs).
You may or may not know that proteins are the building blocks of muscle mass as they provide your body with essential amino acids. Vegetables also help your body maintain nutrition. Prioritizing these foods can help you stay fuller longer and on track without even realizing it. Also, heavier foods like dips/chips, and fried foods can make you feel tired and run down in the heat. Opt for fresher options if possible like salads, fresh fruits, and fresh veggies with veggie dips to help you feel good in your body.

2Plan ahead for splurges and allowances to prevent a food free-for-all. 
Yes, you can enjoy splurges on vacation, but if you eat half a cheesecake every night, you'll eventually feel like crap and gain weight. So instead of avoiding these types of foods altogether, it's important that you plan ahead and choose which of these is most important to you.

Eating anything and everything will leave you feeling heavy and potentially regretful. Planning ahead and thinking about what is MOST important regarding splurges and allowances will help you make better choices and avoid regretful decisions. Using decision making skills to have some foods and not others will also help you to feel more accountable to yourself, and build self-trust when you are putting your conscious brain in control rather than letting the 'free-for-all' just happen.

3Only eat until satiated and avoid snacking when not physically hungry. 
When on vacation, it's normal for there to be tons of food around, especially if you're on a cruise or a place where they provide buffet meals. Just because they have a buffet or tons of food does not mean you have to eat it. 

Eat until satiated and seek out these cues in your body. Eating until overstuffed can leave you feeling physically uncomfortable and unwell. Tune into your body for hunger cues and fullness cues. Again, this will help you feel better about yourself in the long run. You want to eat when you're hungry, not eat just for the sake of eating or because you are bored, etc. If you recognize that you are an emotional eater, you may need additional tools or skills to help you work through that. Seeking out counseling is a good option for that. Being conscious about eating when hungry and avoiding eating when you are not will also help you recognize hunger cues better, and will help you feel more in control.

4. Prioritize activity and move your body. 
Continuing with movement while on vacation will help you to feel even better. Moving your body and working out isn't just for weight loss. It's also a great mood booster and mood regulator. Endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin are neurotransmitters that are released when you move your body. They are helpful in mood regulation and making you feel better. There are other physical benefits as well that help with stress release, blood pressure regulation, and overall heart health. Continuing to move your body while on vacation is a great benefit to lasting lifestyle change. Movement is great for boosting your brainpower and making you feel better. Feeling like you're in a funk? Get moving! This helps you shift how you're feeling faster than anything else. 

Whether you decide to visit the fitness center, take a walk on the beach, or opt for kayaking, playing outdoor volleyball, throwing some balls around on the tennis court, or a rock-climbing adventure, make sure that you're having fun and enjoying yourself. Moving your body can be fun.

5. Make sure you stay hydrated. 
Water is your friend. Staying hydrated on vacation is essential. Many opt for alcoholic beverages more while on vacation and these can cause dehydration.Therefore, having more water while on vacation will ensure that your body stays hydrated while you're on vacation.

Water helps your body flush toxins. Also, having water can help you maintain your weight loss because some foods laden with sodium can also cause your body to retain water. When you are drinking water regularly, you're helping your body push out the toxins, balance your fluid intake and process any excess sodium intake while on vacation.

Also, if you are having fun in the sun, this can cause dehydration as well. Making sure you're drinking enough water is essential for healthy body functions overall.

Vacation is a time to relax, refresh, and rejuvenate so keep these tips in mind to ensure your holiday is everything you hoped it would be. Also, use these tips to help you keep the weight off for the long-term because lasting lifestyle change goes beyond the day-to-day. Using tools while on vacation will help you feel successful no matter where you go or what you do.

Kristin Lloyd-Moussa, LPC/LMHC, PhD Candidate is the Founder of Bariatric Mindset. Kristin Lloyd, LPC/LMHC is a psychotherapist and gastric sleeve patient committed to helping individuals conquer the mental, emotional, and behavioral aspects of adjusting to life after weight loss surgery. Through transformative workshops, group programs, online courses and books/workbooks, Bariatric Mindset guides people to overcome emotional eating, and other life stressors through ‘mindset shifts’, helping people achieve their best life following weight loss surgery. We believe that weight loss surgery is a tool and teaching people how to cultivate their ‘bariatric success mindset’ is the key to long-term success.

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