NEXT MONDAY is Memorial Day, when we commemorate the men and women who have died in military service to our country. The holiday also marks the unofficial start of summer - old-fashioned fun and family picnics.
For most American families, it's a laid-back day eating barbecued meats, your mom's famous deviled eggs and your aunt's favorite apple pie. Some of you are probably wondering how you will survive the day without falling prey to these food land mines and their attendant unwanted pounds.
Well, I'm here to tell you that you can enjoy the holiday without gaining an ounce or feeling deprived or guilty. Follow these 10 recommendations, and you'll not only enjoy the day but be ready for that bathing suit in the weeks to come.
1. Create a plan.
Don't let every family or friendly get-together undo all your hard work. Go in with a plan. For example, get up early and do your workout before the festivities begin.
Don't skip breakfast and lunch, or you'll be ravenous when you get there and eat everything in sight. Throughout the day, snack on plenty of high-fiber fruits and veggies so you won't be as tempted by those deviled eggs and hot dogs.
2. Exercise portion control.
Fear not, you can have your cake and eat it, too, if you budget your calories. Just eat half or even a quarter of what you would normally eat. Eat your meal on a smaller plate - the larger the plate, the more we tend to pack on. Plus, a small plate filled with food gives the illusion of more food. Your plate will fool your eyes but leave your stomach satisfied.
3. Stay hydrated.
During the summer season, it's important to stay properly hydrated. Many people eat when they're actually thirsty. Keep plenty of cold water on board and chug-a-lug throughout the day. Also, drinking plenty of water will make you feel full, so
you'll eat less, too.
4. Beware of beverages.
Be careful how you hydrate. You can easily save hundreds of extra calories by eliminating or minimizing consumption of sodas, juices or alcoholic beverages - all of which are loaded with empty calories. A few cans of soda or one tropical drink can set you back hundreds of calories. These beverages also can increase your appetite. Why waste your caloric budget this way? If you must drink, remember less is more.
5. Let your skinny jeans be your guide.
Wear your favorite fitted jeans to the party, not that big, baggy sweat suit. Your skinny jeans will be an instant reminder when
you've eaten enough. You'd be too embarrassed to unbutton your jeans at the family picnic, so you'll stop eating when you feel full. Wear stretchy, forgiving slacks and you're likely to eat 50 percent more!
6. Fill up on family.
Instead of eating yourself silly, why not read a book to the kids or get to know your nephew, who's enjoying his first semester at Temple? Let's get back to the true spirit of the holiday - focus on family and nurturing relationships, instead of filling our bellies.
7. Skip the rolls.
Skipping everyday items like bread or dinner rolls could save you a whopping 300 to 400 calories. That leaves room to indulge in something really special, like a small piece of pie or cake.
8. Get moving.
A friendly game of flag football or volleyball, turning up the music and doing the latest line dance - there are plenty of ways to include physical activity and fun in a Memorial Day family get-together.
9. Fill up on fiber.
Garnish the picnic table with a beautiful tray of vegetable crudites and seasonal fruits such as watermelon, pineapple, mango and berries. Plant-based foods are full of fiber that swells in your stomach, curbing your ravenous appetite. (Fiber also keeps you regular.)
10. Don't let health take a holiday.
Consider making low-fat versions of your favorite recipes. Replace high-fat ground beef with lean beef or ground, white-meat turkey. Use low-fat or reduced-fat mayo in your potato, tuna and coleslaw salads. Remember, you can give up fat without giving up the flavor. *
Kimberly Garrison is a certified personal trainer and owner of One on One Ultimate Fitness in Philadelphia (www.1on1ultimatefitness.com).
E-mail her at