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Your Fourth of July Picnic Survival Guide

July 3, 2011 0 Comments

PicnicFew things are more synonymous with summer than swimming pools, trips to the beaches/mountains, longer daylight hours, warmer temps, and picnics. And not just any picnic, but the Fourth of July picnic with family, friends, and fireworks.  In my family, the Fourth of July picnic has been a tradition at my parents’ house for almost 30 years, complete with all the temptations that can make any strong willed person weak. However, there’s no need to think that one day on the calendar is going to sabotage your otherwise healthy eating routine. But have no fear.  If you go to picnics this holiday weekend or any event throughout the summer, here are some quick survival tips to have a good time without panic of expanding your waistline

Tip #1 – Eat breakfast. Too often people make the mistake thinking that by skipping breakfast they are saving on all the calories they are going to consume later in the day. Skipping breakfast is a sure fire way to not only begin a low blood sugar roller coaster for the rest of the day, it will inevitably lead to overeating.

Tip #2 – Control Your Servings. It’s Not a Buffet. If the picnic is an all day affair, plan your meals and have a little of this now, a little of that later.  But even if it’s a quick “drop by”, keep portions to what you know they should be, not what you would like them to be.

Tip #3 – Eat Healthy Whenever Possible. Fill up on fruits and vegetables as the foundation of your meals. An occasional “alternative” beverage is fine but limit your intake of liquid calories and drink water as often as possible.

Tip #4 – Be Realistic. Make no mistake about it; you’re probably going to eat more calories on a picnic day than a regular day. Enjoy yourself, don’t overindulge, and get right back on track with healthy eating the next day.

Tip #5 – Stay as Active as Possible. Why sit and think you’re too old when a picnic is a perfect time to be a kid again.  Get up and get moving.  Here are just a few ways to burn calories:

– Backyard Badminton = 300 calories per hour
– Shooting hoops = 300 calories per hour
– Basketball game with the youngsters = Up to 500 calories per hour
– Moderate cycling = Up to 600 calories per hour
– Canoeing = 400-600 calories per hour
– Frisbee tossing = 200 calories per hour
– Golf (carrying clubs) = 350 calories per hour

The holiday (any holiday for that matter) doesn’t need to be a dietary “fearful” event.  Do you really eat the way you might at a picnic more than 50% of the time?  If the answer is yes, then there is a problem elsewhere that needs to be addressed.  But if you can treat a picnic like a one time event to look forward to and celebrate with family and friends, you’ll have a much better time.  After all, we declared our independence to enjoy a life of freedom, so don’t be shy – just be smart.

Have a happy and safe holiday weekend!

Til next time, train smart, eat well, and be better.


About the Author:

Jeff Harrison is a fitness coach based in Pottstown, PA. He received a BS in Exercise and Sport Science from Penn State University and is an NSCA Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS), NSCA Certified Personal Trainer (NSCA-CPT) and ACE Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist (ACE-AHFS). Jeff's articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals as well as consumer oriented websites and magazines.

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