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6 Tips to Stay Healthy at the Cottage

Summer is here in full force — which is fantastic — but it can wreak havoc on a healthy lifestyle; it is easy to consistently overindulge while sitting on the dock, sharing meals with friends and family, playing games, or curling up watching a movie.

One or two indulgences can be healthy –— mindfully sharing food with loved ones is a healthy part of a balanced life. Some of my treasured cottage memories are based around food: toasting marshmallows, barbecuing, chips on the dock, etc. The problem is, most of us are not aware enough to stop at one or two small treats.

The trick is to learn strategies to allow your current self to feel joy and to cultivate positive memories — while still ensuring a happy and proud “future self.”

I don’t want the “end-of-summer you” to feel disappointed — or worse, ashamed — over your decisions. Feeling overwhelmed by having to “get back on your fitness horse” can be debilitating; it is always easier to “keep up rather than catch up.”


Tips

1. Don’t fall down the all-or-nothing rabbit hole!

Don’t let one unhealthy choice instigate a parade of unhealthy choices — don’t let your unhealthy choices “snowball.” Just because you opted for fries rather than salad, don’t automatically abandon your health goals altogether

2. Be mindful and aware.

Moderation is the obvious, although often challenging, key to a fun yet healthy vacation. A huge part of being moderate is being mindful — awareness breeds choice. Too often we eat because we are bored, because we are sad, or simply because the food is there, but you can’t make healthier choices if you are not aware of your actions, habits and thoughts.

3. Always have a plan...and an end goal...and a backup plan.

Always have both a plan and an “end goal.” Use the GPS analogy: If you deviate from your plan figure out how to get back on track. “Reroute” instead of just saying screw it. Reach your final healthy eating destination in another way. For example, if you decide to go out for a family dinner, look at the menu online and decide what you will eat. If you arrive and the dish has been taken off of the menu, don’t say, “Oh well...might as well indulge.” Reroute — find another healthy option. If no other option is as healthy, ask the waiter to bring out only half of the meal. Take the other half home.

4. Use my “love it rule.”

If you want to indulge, go for it — but choose something you really want, not just what is there. I love chocolate, so if I really want a treat, I eat some good chocolate and I enjoy it!

5. Make healthy options as convenient as possible and unhealthy foods as inconvenient as possible.

Buy healthy snacks for the cottage. If you only have unhealthy snacks, you will eat them. I usually stock up on veggies, fruit, almonds, avocados, salsa, seaweed, and little yogurts. In addition, only bring a single serving of the foods you actually want to eat down to the dock or in front of the TV. If the food is beside you, you will most likely eat it, so set yourself up for success.

6. Stay active.

Play a team sport with your friends or family, explore the area around your cottage on foot or on a bike, or recharge by trying a “do anywhere” cottage workout.

Last, if you do gain weight, try not to let feelings of guilt cloud your positive holiday memories. Remember, your self-worth is not determined by the number on the scale. Plus, you can’t go back in time and make better choices. Instead, learn from your decisions so you can make better choices next time. Falling off the fitness horse is always a wonderful opportunity for self-growth — get back on the horse a more informed rider.