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The days are getting shorter, and fall is right around the corner with its crisp air and comfy sweaters. Just because you may be getting ready to swap out your closet, doesn’t mean you have to prepare for hibernation and weight gain.

The Quest: Summer, Swimsuit Ready Bods

New Year’s Resolutions are ripe with promises to get in shape, this year is the year…every year! Once those resolutions drop off, and hints of spring are in the air, people start to realize that summer is coming around once again. Like it does every year. And with that, swimsuit weather, tank tops, shorts, and sundresses. Then it starts again, the talk about getting the swimsuit body back in order. Typically, this goal is set around diet and exercise and sometimes uses some intense practices and fads to get that “summer body.”

What if you committed to being healthy year-round? It’s possible!  You don’t have to play the winter/summer weight game. You can feel good and maintain a healthy body year-round. Besides, who ever really loses all the weight from the winter before the next one comes around?

Don’t Fall for the Trap!

A healthy body year-round takes year-round discipline. Once people get those summer bods, they start to let up a bit, developing habits that lead to an immune system burnout. Then that scale starts swinging back in the other direction. The crisp air, bulky sweaters, and pumpkin-flavored, sugar-laden everything clinches the slide into full-on “winter bod” mode that fuels the cycle. Sugar and so many of the ingredients in traditional holiday dishes are inflammatory and do not support health.

Have you ever thought about how the “cold and flu season” seems to overlap with the holiday season that starts in October and continues through the winter? Consider this for a moment: The fall flavors of desserts, every flavor of beverage with more sugar than coffee, and all the holiday foods. It all starts with that October 31st collection of sugar. We all know this bag lasts nearly all winter long. The next stop is Thanksgiving with the holiday and traditional foods. Then, before we know it, we are rolling into Christmas feeling a bit more like a bowl full of jelly ourselves. But not before one more big party! New Year’s! Time to set the resolution for weight loss. Ohhh, the big game! Maybe after the “holiday break.” A few days of dedication to the gym membership and meal plan, and usually there’s a bump in the road. From feeling a bit run down, to one last holiday meet-up, all the best-laid goals and resolutions dissolve as quickly as the glitter from the gift wrap.

Factors To Your Ideal, Healthy Body Weight

Supporting and nourishing a body you can live in year-round is a worthy goal. But what does a healthy body, and a healthy weight look like for you? Determining what is healthy can’t be completely dependent upon the scale. The type of body weight you carry is crucial to determining a healthy weight for you specifically.

Not all Body Fat is Created Equal

In most people, the layer of fat, known as subcutaneous, makes up about 90% of the body fat they carry. This type of fat is most noticeable as the mushy, soft fat you can poke just below the skin level.  This is what most people recognize and talk about when they talk about body fat. Unfortunately, there is a much more health-impacting type of fat below the surface.

Visceral fat, also known as intra-abdominal fat, can collect and fill in the spaces around the liver, intestines, kidneys, heart, and other organs. Hidden behind the abdominal wall, this fat gives a harder feeling as it fills in cavities meant to be open. This visceral fat can cause organs to become sluggish and adapt their function. Unfortunately, this type of fat isn’t visibly noticeable and doesn’t typically spur health changes unless proper testing is done to determine the function of the potentially affected organs.

What comes as a surprise to many people is that even thin people can have large amounts of visceral fat. Even more concerning, this level of fat is considerably more damaging to health than the subcutaneous, more visible fat.

Not All Weight is Created Equal

Weight loss can’t be all about the number on the scale. There are so many factors that go into getting healthy that the scale simply can’t measure. What happens if you start changing your habits and simply lose a lot of water weight? This is by far the easiest weight to lose, and most people are ecstatic when they see that first quick drop. However, are they still properly hydrated, or simply depleting the good, necessary hydration their cells need for optimal health?

What about the person who starts working out and gains weight? When we swap fat for muscle, we can quickly become discouraged with the scale. But are you getting healthier and leaner? That is more important than simply a number that measures gravitational pull. Do you happen to have a larger bone structure? This will most certainly contribute to your overall weight.

So How Should We Measure Progress? Up or Down?

Sometimes it’s necessary to come up with a strategy that will keep you motivated to stay on track and measure progress.

  • String Test- This one is simple. Take a piece of string and measure around the areas of your body you want to keep tabs on. We suggest your waist, hips, arms, and even thighs. Cut each length and keep it as a reference to check each week. This way, you’ll notice either the loss of inches or the subtle increase and be able to adjust accordingly before things get out of hand.
  • Take Progress Pics- We’ve all seen the gym selfies. You can keep them to yourself if you prefer but having an image of yourself either at your healthy, fit stage, or the beginning of a weight loss journey can keep you on track as you see changes. You may not see changes as quickly here as with the scale or string, but you will see them.
  • Clothing- We all have our skinny jeans and our fat jeans. Some days, you just know which pair you need. And some days you’re shocked at how they fit! How you feel in your clothes will resemble the results you see with the string, however, because we use different clothes on different days, it may not be as easy to keep tabs.
  • Endurance level- When walking up the steps gets easier, or we are less winded after a walk, we have every reason to celebrate! This, after all, is what health is about: Proper function.

Tips to Stay Summer Ready!

Whether you’ve just reached a fitness goal, you’re starting a health restoration journey, or you’re hoping to maintain the summer bod you worked hard for, strategy is important! Here are a few tips to help keep you on track.

  • Find an activity to stay fit all year round. Of course, great weather can make it easier to get outside and keep moving. If you live in a place with super hot summers or super cold winters, you may need to get creative. Can you pick up a movement hobby in a new season? Maybe snowshoeing or a water game. Maybe family dance parties? The name of the game is to move your body!
  • Consider healthy alternatives to traditions. Food is emotional; the body doesn’t understand moderation. Just a little piece of several little things that derail you add up! Some of the ways we celebrate, especially food and beverage, may need to be evaluated. Can you replace the marshmallows on top of the sweet potato pie with healthier crunchy granola? What about wild rice instead of white?
  • Eat real food! With all the hustle and bustle, don’t fall into the trap of eating highly processed, non-nourishing foods! Check out this episode of A Different Perspective with Courtney Swan from Realfoodology!
  • Don’t overeat! The trick here is considering how much food you’ll be taking in and how much energy you’ll be expending. Food is fuel, not your friend! If you have extras from a celebration or a time out with friends, consider packing some up to be enjoyed at another time. Many of us eat at celebrations as if it’s our last meal.
  • Are you still getting enough sleep? Lazy days of summer often transition into the faster-paced days of back-to-school, extracurriculars, and holidays. Rest supports the body’s restoration phase. If you don’t properly give your body that rest, it may seek food. Often, it is emotional, impulsive, less healthy food that we seek in moments of tired weakness.
  • Reduce inflammation! We all know a sign of inflammation is that red, puffy look of a twisted ankle. What if it’s happening on the inside? Hidden inflammation from foods like soy, dairy, gluten, or food allergies can appear as weight gain and disrupt the proper function of systems and organs.

Sometimes You Just Need Support; Make Sure It’s the Right Kind!

Whether you want to maintain the goal you hit this summer, find yourself backsliding a bit, or want to hit a goal for next summer, we can help! When you focus on better health, the “summer bod” is usually quick to follow, or at least much more attainable. To determine the best strategy for you, your current state of health, how your organs and systems are functioning, and whether you need to address visceral fat, contact one of our clinics. We have several tools to help reduce inflammation and create a custom health restoration or maintenance plan for you.

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Disclaimer: This content is for educational purposes only. It’s not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your Wellness Way clinic or personal physician, especially if currently taking prescription or over-the-counter medications. Pregnant women, in particular, should seek the advice of a physician before trying any herb or supplement listed on this website. Always speak with your individual clinic before adding any medication, herb, or nutritional supplement to your health protocol. Information and statements regarding dietary supplements have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.

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