With the 4 th of July just a few days behind those of us who live in the United States, and most of the summer stretching ahead, personal histories of past summers where we paid no heed to what we ate either at home or on vacation are important ones. For most of us, these histories are proof that we could easily change the lyrics of George Gershwin’s song “Summertime and the livin’ is easy” to “Summertime and the gainin’ is easy.”

At no other season other than Christmas is it as easy to casually discard our new health habits like soiled paper plates after a picnic. Well, not this year – and not ever again!

Today’s Quote: Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it. (George Santayana)

E-mails from “Weight Loss Made Easy” readers express the thought concisely:

A month ago I was journaling, drinking my water, planning my meals and snacks ahead of time and SO excited about the nearly 10 pounds I’d carefully lost. We went on vacation, I put everything aside, and gained 6 pounds over the two weeks we were gone. It’s probably more now, but I don’t’ want to get back on the scale and I can’t seem to snap back into gear. Arrghghgh! I’m so disgusted with myself!

Another e-mail from a reader who’d just returned from a holiday says, “I need a vacation after my vacation! There was way too much food and way too much stress!”

These letters reflect the typical result of a less than cheery report in the press this week. It stated that most people who try to lose weight lose about 6% of their body weight (usually 10-15 pounds) then put it all back in five years. ( Washington Post, July 3, 2007; study by Michael Dansinger of the Tufts-New England Medical Center.)

This news was preceded on July 2 by another dismal study reporting that stress is the bad guy for weight gain. Rats subjected to stress environments and offered high-fat foods gained more weight (around their abdomens, no less) than rats offered high fat foods only. I wonder how much ( Washington Post , July 2, 2007; study by Department of Physiology and Biophysics at Georgetown University.)

The good news is that we’re NOT rats, and we’re NOT participants of a doom and gloom study, but much loved children of our Heavenly Father, born with infinite potential and the power to change, grow and fill the measure of our creations .. Steven R. Covey, our brother in the gospel, has a thought that is of far more value to us than any depressing scientific report:

Every human has four endowments: self 1) awareness, 2) conscience, 3) independent will and 4) creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom: The power to choose, to respond, to change.

That’s more like it! No matter where you live or when your country celebrates its national patriotic holiday, it’s a choice to make every day a personal declaration of independence. Is there any freedom more important than the personal freedom that comes through self-mastery with Heavenly Father’s assistance?

With that being the general big picture, here are some specific quick “weight-loss made easy” tips for summer traveling and holidays: Begin with the end in mind: Picture yourself returning home with the scale at about the same place as when you left and you’ve succeeded. Generously allow yourself to center not so much on losing weight, but on not losing momentum!

Its easy to stay focused by five easy to remember choices: Count them off on one hand as you read them now: 1) move, 2) choose, 3) eat, 4) see, 5) remember. Now, say to yourself in an enthusiastic voice, “Action!” as you adopt the following for your holidays this year:

  1. “I MOVE!” Plan for some form of activity every day. Take a brisk walk at the airport while waiting for flights. If you don’t have someone to leave the luggage with, think of it as built-in gym equipment or weights as you carry it along. Get the brochures and see the sights around wherever you’re staying, or just walk the streets. Go to the playground with the kids after a day visiting relatives or spent in the car – and actually play. Get up in the morning instead of sleeping in and walk, walk, walk. It’s always more fun in a new place. It’s a choice to create some energy and some memories through activity.
  2. “I CHOOSE!” Choose your food. Don’t let the food choose you. Anticipate what’s going to be served on the airplane, on the road or at Aunt Lucy’s. None of us make wise choices when we’re hungry, so plan accordingly with snacks and water. Consider the snacks and meals you traditionally have on a road trip and make a decision to enjoy different foods than past years. Carry a cooler with crisp veggies, peeled fruit and water bottles.
  3. “I EAT!”: Breakfast and lunch are essential. Skipping meals only prepares your metabolism to slow down and makes you more inclined to overeat at your next meal. Eat mindfully, use the clock and you will be able to enjoy and have calories to spare for a treat No one makes healthy choices who is hungry.
  4. “I SEE!”: Portions matter, even on vacation. Enough said! We had dinner with a delightful friend on Sunday who is now down more than 18 pounds with portion control alone.
  5. “I REMEMBER!”: Actively recall how your stomach feels after over-indulging for several days in a row, how your moods and stress levels immediately deteriorate with too much sugar, how calorie loaded and sugary soft drinks may taste great, but do not quench thirst and may actually increase thirst as your body processes the ingredients.. Most importantly, remember to forgive yourself and make up for poor choices on one day with increased exercise and decreased calories over the next day or two. Angels fly because they take themselves lightly, and so can we!

With these choices comes the ultimate freedom of willingly stepping on the scale when we return home and easily snapping back into routines and habits that provide energy and self esteem. Doesn’t that feel just fabulous?

Now THAT’S a vacation!

Today’s Empowerment: Picture fireworks of celebration as you say to yourself: “My ultimate freedom comes every day as I learn from my own history and take action to change. I MOVE, I CHOOSE, I EAT, I SEE, and I REMEMBER!”

Today’s Journal Prompts/Discussion Starters : Make an extra copy of what you create here to carry with you in your scriptures, journal or wherever you’ll see them while away from home.

  1. Describe overindulging on a past holiday and how it affected you. How long did it take to return to normal health routines?
  2. Visualize returning home and stepping on the scale to see that you are within 2-3 pounds of what you weighed when you left. Describe your feelings and ability to snap into health routines immediately.
  3. What exercise will you get while on vacation? What gear will you take?
  4. What are the specific vacation foods and situations that interrupt your program? Actually defining a problem is the first half of solving it!
  5. As a continuation from No.

    4 – Are there people who negatively influence your food choices while away from home? What can you do or say differently this year? (By the way, a simple, “No thanks, not right now.” is always an acceptable answer.)

Today’s Recipe:  Tropical Salad.  

You can’t beat fruit salad for a low-fat sweet treat. This tropical fruit salad makes the most of delicious summer fruit. It’s really perfect by itself, but you can add a little low-fat vanilla yogurt or fat-free whipped topping if you like. 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups fresh pineapple
  • 2 cups fresh cantaloupe
  • 2 large, ripe mangoes, cubed
  • 2 kiwifruit, sliced
  • 2 medium navel oranges, peeled, pith and skin removed, cut into pieces
  • Juice of 1 small lemon
  • Juice of 1 small lime
  • 1 tsp sugar

PREPARATION:

Combine pineapple, cantaloupe, mangoes, kiwifruit and orange pieces in a large bowl. Combine lemon juice and lime juice with sugar. Stir until sugar dissolves. Drizzle over fruit. Toss and refrigerate until ready to serve.

6-8 servings

Per Serving: Calories 123, Calories from Fat 5, Total Fat 0.6g (sat 0g), Cholesterol 0mg, Sodium 9mg, Carbohydrate 28.1g, Fiber 3.5g, Protein 1.5g