Did you know that the average American consumes more than 3,000 calories at a summer cookout? And with Independence Day falling on a Thursday this year, there is an extra-long weekend full of opportunities to overindulge on the fattening barbecue favorites responsible for frustrating weight gain.

Many of us mindlessly munch our way through a long holiday weekend, never considering the consequences of bad food and beverage choices. But when you calculate the colossal number of calories, saturated fats, cholesterol, and sodium packed into this grub, it’s enough to set off some internal fireworks.

A typical barbecue menu includes such popular picks as hot dogs, cheeseburgers, mayonnaise-laden salads, sugary sips, and dip-covered chips. With this meal alone (not to mention going back for seconds), you’ve already exceeded your daily recommended nutritional values. And what’s worse are the nasty nitrates, processed parts, and artificial flavors responsible for inflammation and belly bloat.

Although one meal is not enough to derail your healthy habits, an entire weekend of grazing on these goodies can be. So how do you avoid becoming patriotically plump over the holiday weekend? The key is to be a star-spangled planner. Follow these simple tips:

  • Stay hydrated. Drink water between cocktails to stay hydrated and reduce alcohol consumption. If you are feeling a little tipsy, you are more likely to overeat. Water also encourages good digestion and makes the belly feel fuller, longer.
  • Volunteer to bring a healthier dish to the party. Serve up a nutritious salad, some grilled vegetables, or lean protein such as fish.
  • Make exercise a priority. If you start your day off with an intense workout, like the one below, you may be less likely to pig out later. Exercise helps crush calories, regulate cravings, and program your brain to make healthier choices.

For this circuit, spend 60 seconds on each exercise, resting for 30 seconds between moves. When complete, rest for one minute, then repeat the entire circuit three times.

Fast feet

  • Stand tall with feet hip-width apart.
  • Lower into a squat as you drop your hands down between your feet and shoot your legs back, landing on your toes. Keep your spine straight, hips strong, and core engaged.
  • Now jump your feet forward so they land on either side of your hands and push through your heels lifting your body into a squat. Your thighs should be parallel with the ground, chest up, and body weight grounded in your heels. Hold the squat for two counts, then repeat this sequence for 60 seconds.
Ashley demonstrates the fast feet exercise.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley demonstrates the fast feet exercise.

Mountain to climb

  • Start in a high plank position with your body forming a straight line from head to heels. Keep your gaze forward.
  • Drive your right knee up toward your chest then quickly do the same with your left knee. Continue alternating your legs for 60 seconds.
Ashley demonstrates mountain climbers.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley demonstrates mountain climbers.

Lunge plunge

  • Begin with feet hip-width apart, chest up, and shoulders back.
  • Take a step forward with your right foot, lowering your body into a lunge. Check that your front knee is not extending past your toes, and your back knee is aligned below your hip.
  • Hold for one count, or until balanced, then push through your right heel swinging your leg back into a reverse lunge. Repeat this seesaw motion for 30 seconds then practice for 30 seconds on the left side.
Ashley demonstrates a swinging lunge.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley demonstrates a swinging lunge.

Drop it like it’s squat

  • Stand with feet slightly wider than hip-width apart. Hinge back at your hips, lowering your body into a squat. Maintain your weight in your heels. Reach your right hand down toward the ground. Keep your gaze forward to avoid rounding your shoulders and hunching your back.
  • Quickly jump your feet together and stand tall, then jump your feet back out into a squat and touch the ground with your left hand. Continue to alternate between hands each time you dip down into a squat.
Ashley demonstrates a jump squat variation.
Courtesy of Ashley Greenblatt
Ashley demonstrates a jump squat variation.

Make a declaration to stay healthy this holiday weekend.

Ashley Blake Greenblatt, ACE-CPT, is a certified personal trainer and wellness coach. To learn more about her virtual training program, visit ashleyblakefitness.com.