Meal Planner Series: Making Nutritious Meals during the Summer

If you're struggling to stay on track with your nutrition and fitness goals during the summer, this episode is for you. We discuss why summer can be harder to stay on track, how you can handle the changes by setting realistic goals/expectations, how you can enjoy treats with your family, and what steps you should take if you do indulge.

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I'm joined by MetPro Coach Jaci Wise. We're going to be discussing hurdles to your fitness goals that are specific to summer and how to overcome them. Jaci, thank you so much for joining me.

Thanks for having me, Crystal. I'm happy to be here.

I'm excited to have you here. I've talked to several people that are my clients. A lot of things have been coming up that are specific to summer. For example, some things are unique about summer. What examples come to your mind that can create hurdles to your fitness goals?

I'm getting this a lot with my clients too. Summer has officially kicked off. The summer activities are in full force. That means kids are home from school. You've got more vacations going on and maybe some more parties, holidays, cookouts, and things like that. There are all these things. We have them every once in a while in the other seasons of the year, but summer hits you full force. It seems like every weekend, there's something. When you're trying to say healthy and follow a nutrition plan, those can be some big hurdles to get through, learn how to navigate, and stay on track during those.

With all of these hurdles that we talked about, how can people continue to stay committed and on track with their fitness goals and the diet that they're focused on?

Summers are particularly difficult, as we were talking about. There are a lot of hurdles to go through. Your regular daily routine is interrupted by the kids at home, activities, vacations, and all of that. Those weekends of hanging out at home are far and few between during the summertime. It makes it a lot harder to carve out that precious meal prep, which allows you to be the most successful during regular weeks during the year and whatnot. During the summertime, that's more interrupted.

First off, communication and setting realistic expectations are huge. Make sure to talk with your coach and set realistic goals and expectations for those activities and vacations, even if it's just a weekend away. This is especially if you're working with us with our concierge service. That's why your coach is there to help you. It's to navigate those types of situations.

This allows us to work together to create a strategy that best works for you. It doesn't mean that you have to be 100% on plan and track away everything while trying to enjoy your vacation in Cayman with your family. We're all human. We all want to enjoy the greater things in life. We are here to give you those tools to be able to navigate those situations the best that you can.

How do you enjoy treats with your kids or your friends but not go overboard? How can you find that balance?

Balance is key. One of the things that I talk to my clients about is moderation and overall consistency in not only your day-to-day and week-to-week but also month-to-month. You're looking at the bigger picture in the grand scheme of things of those treats and fun activities that you are enjoying with your friends, family, and children. Even if you end up having an off-plan meal or day, getting right back on track with your nutrition and exercise plan will minimize the impact versus letting those things snowball into multiple days of not great eating. You probably won't feel that great either.

The food hangover is no fun. If I'm hearing you correctly, enjoy them, don't stress about them, and get back to the plan.

You can make those treats healthy and fun too so that both you and your kids and friends enjoy them. Think of homemade popsicles that are made with flavored electrolytes. It's just water and electrolyte tablets. It makes a tasty treat and has zero impact on your daily calorie input. That is a great option to have in your reserve. Skip the Otter Pops that are full of sugar and make your own. You can always try refreshing smoothies for a snack. There could be some good options and all these types of things you can find as a resource on our MetPro website on the recipes. MetPro Academy is a great place and a great resource to find lots of good ideas.

Angelo gave me one. I have been enjoying strawberries with Truvia a lot lately.

To circle back, don't deprive yourself of having those fun treats either. If you want that cookie, have a bite, share it, and then move on. Your mental health is important too. Sometimes people feel like they need to be super strict or eliminate those types of food in their diet. That can be a recipe for issues in the future. You haven't had it for so long and all of a sudden you're like, There’s some in front of me. I’m going to eat the whole bag of chips or sleeve of cookies.

If you incorporate that a little bit here and there with moderation, then you get to enjoy it, not feel guilty, and move on. Circling back, continue to stay the rest of your meals on track for the day. That allows you to not overcompensate later on by going into a meal or whatnot hungry. Keep up with your snacks. Enjoy a little treat here and there but don't feel like you need to compensate by eating less later on or even doing extra cardio.

You brought up a good point. Let's say I indulge and have a cookie in the middle of the day. What would I do for my snacks and dinner the rest of the day or whatever meals I haven't hit yet? Should I continue to do those on target? Should I try to compensate for that in some way? What should I do?

The last thing we want you to do is to try to limit or compensate for that food or treat you have with your future meals or snacks. Move on, eat the rest of your meal plan for the rest of the day on plan, and hit it hard with your regular workout routine. Don't feel like you have to overcompensate. That's going to be a recipe to get you back to that yo-yo mentality of eating what you want and then outwork it because ultimately, you're not going to be able to outwork a bad diet.

As long as you're keeping up with those healthy habits, that is the key. All of the coaches here always hype up the snacks. They're like, That’s a magical thing. They’re there because we emphasize them. You are consistent with getting it in but having a small mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack allows you to go into your main meals not as hungry and not overindulging. It keeps that blood sugar and energy level stable throughout the whole day. The ultimate goal is to minimize the afternoon slump and keep you on track for the whole day.

Maybe you're going on vacation or you have a big holiday coming up and a celebration with friends and family. You know you're going to go off track. Is there a way you can plan around it? Is there anything you should do to systematically say, I’m going to treat myself in this way, but I’m going to not do this other thing? Are there tips for that?

Being realistic about what you want that trip to look like is important. Be honest with yourself and deep down, know that, Am I going to be able to stay on track with my nutrition during this upcoming trip? For example, it's a full week. You're going on a trip with your family and staying at a hotel. Ideally, there are tips for going into those types of things. That brings up a good point about the types of places you're staying at. You could go a lot of different ways.

People enjoy different types of vacations. They like the amenities of a hotel versus Airbnbs and things like that, but also, it's good to keep in mind what things are there to help you with your food. You can look at the different levels of accessibility. You have everything from a simple hotel that has a microwave and a mini-fridge that you can make work. They have a coffee maker. They're great. A step up from that is a hotel with a wet bar, a sink, and maybe a bigger fridge.

You get up to timeshares where they have full kitchen access or even stay at an Airbnb, so you have that full kitchen. There are all things like that to consider when you're planning your trip too. It tends to be a lot more cost-effective in the long run to stay at a place with more of those amenities where you can bring snacks for the family, go shopping, and get lunch items. It minimizes those meals where you have to eat out and potentially spend a lot more money.

It goes back to what you want your vacation to look like. Some people are like, I don’t want to cook anything. I want to enjoy my time. I don’t want to worry about food, go grocery shopping, or make that for the family. I want to find a restaurant, family eat, and enjoy our time together. Evaluating those points and what is important to you with that trip is going to be super important.

Even if, at the bare minimum, you want to eat out for your meals, we have strategies in place to make those healthy choices possible, navigate those menus, and make those choices to help you stay on plan. Even if that is the route you're going to go toward, make sure you're still packing and bringing those snacks or your staple items. You've got your protein bars, nuts, cheeses, yogurt, rice cakes, and things like that to help keep you able to get those in.

When you're on vacation, going back to the activity, those are the first things to go out the window and forget about because you get busy. It's easy to forget about those. All of a sudden, lunch rolls around and you're like, I am hungry. I want the first food that we’re going to come across. You're most likely going to end up overeating at that meal, which is the last thing we want you to do. We want you to feel good throughout the day and not be able to stress too much about what you're going to be eating next.

Out of all the things you said, you gave a lot of great tips, but one that I am guilty of is not being honest with myself. I always think, I’m going to work out every day on this vacation,” and I never do. It’s not to say I’m not active, but in my head, it’s always going to be,I'm going to go to the gym every morning." By the second day of the vacation, that's gone out the window. Part of it is because sometimes I eat things I shouldn't, and then I don't feel good when I wake up the next morning and I have no interest in working out. That is something I continually try to work on.

I love that starboard of setting expectations because you want to set yourself up for success. You don't want to have such high expectations that you're immediately going to fail because it never feels good to not stick to your game plan and what you were wanting to do. Be realistic. That means, If I get in at least two days of dedicated exercise during my week-long vacation, then that is my goal. If I do more than that, that’s great.

Every other day, still continue to be active and do activities that are going to keep your body moving and things that are fun to do with the whole family. Go on walks and hikes, kayak, explore landmarks, and things that stuff. More likely than not, you're being a lot more active than you would be if you were home working on your day-to-day. You have a desk job and you're just sitting there all day. When people go on vacations, they're usually a lot more active than they normally are. Don't be like, I need to set aside workouts every single day I’m here.

When I go to Disney World, I like to see how many steps I take because I can often hit 18,000 to 20,000 steps in a day. It's crazy. I never hit that much at home.

I love that you bring it up because Florida and Disney World are hot. It's so important to stay hydrated and drink your water, which is easy to forget. Another big tip for any time of day and anything that you're doing is to take a reusable water bottle with you and fill it up. Bring a big one and have it on your person throughout the day no matter where you are and what you're doing because it's so easy to get dehydrated. There are many repercussions that come from that, with water retention in the days leading after that and all sorts of things that have a negative impact on your body, your energy, and how you're feeling too. That's super important as well.

That was all about vacation. What about if you're not going on vacation, but your kids are home? That changes the game. When they're in school, they have no immediate needs during the day, but if they're home during the day, especially if you're a person who works from home, they need everything. They can't even find their socks without assistance. It takes so much more of your brain power than you expect. What do you do about that?

Having a kid at home is tough. There's no way around it. This is where those habits and routines come into play because when you have pre-established habits set up and you have your non-negotiables, you can better prioritize them in your day-to-day life because it's so easy to get busy. Kids have all these things that they're doing during the summertime, like camps.

You have to keep them busy and doing something. Otherwise, they're going to destroy the house. Involving them in your routine is a good tip that I would give folks. Involve them in your food prep, workouts, and being active. Make that routine mesh with them, so you're spending quality time with them but also getting what you need to get done.

Another tip I would say is instead of a once-a-week food prep day, I would switch to two days a week. I would recommend Sundays and Thursdays for those. That Thursday meal prep is a game-changer during the summer and when the kids are busy because weekends can be wild and unpredictable. There are lots of to-dos on the list that you have to get done.

Having some simple grab-and-go snacks and food prepared for that weekend, in particular, is so big. One thing that I'm working with a lot of my clients on is establishing that secondary food prep day to get them through the weekend because it's so easy to get busy that you forget to eat. You're like, I ran out of food. That's a huge one, I need to go grocery shopping. Those are things.

Having the snack that you brought with you in between your kid's soccer games is big. It allows you to skip that drive-through too. At least you have some food that you like and can bring with you. If the family wants to go through that drive-through in between errands, you have the stuff you like. Work with your coach to find something at those staple restaurants you can enjoy on those weekends.

To accomplish that, for me, Instacart is a must-do.

There's Instacart and food grocery delivery or even looking into some meal prep companies that premake your food and ship it to you. A lot of them have their signature dishes that are preportioned out with different items. A lot of them buy different food in bulk. There are protein and carbs by the pounds. Be able to mix and match and fill in the gaps where you didn't food prep yourself. That can be a real lifesaver as well.

What about if you're invited to a lot of parties? How do you handle that? Should you skip them? Is there a way to enjoy it without going overboard? Some people get invited to things 2 and 3 a week. That seems like it's tough to balance.

I have a number of clients who are social bugs. They are invited a lot. They go to a lot of social events. There's a lot asked of them. It's important to have some good strategies going into that for the long run. Keep in mind that your mental well-being is important. If too many social activities and parties are causing more stress, then consider prioritizing the ones that are most important to you and saying no to the invites of others.

Don't feel guilty about making sure you're taking care of yourself and filling up your cup, too, because as we're getting out and getting more social, that can be stressful and cause anxiety as well. That's something to first and foremost keep in mind. It's okay to say no to parties and events. You know the demographic of people you're being invited to, so you know how that will translate. Practicing self-control is a great tool to learn as well.

You can't get better unless you put yourself in a situation. A good tip for parties is to pick which ones you want to indulge in and the ones that you're most looking forward to. If you have an itinerary for a couple of weeks, you're like, I have all these different events I’m invited to. Here’s what my month is looking like. Which ones am I most looking forward to? I’m enjoying the food spread at this one. I want to enjoy having a drink with friends at this one.

It's picking which ones in those types of situations are going to happen and then which ones that you're able to best stay on plan with and not indulge in the treats or alcohol. Make that your goal going into that lineup of parties and activities because moderation is key. We have been talking about moderation this whole time with all these summer activities. Consider trying the one-bite rule when you are wanting to have a small piece of those different foods that you enjoy and are maybe not so good for you like mashed potatoes or key lime pie and things like that.

No foods are necessarily bad. They're either going to move the needle forward towards your progress or you're not going to be moving that needle forward. I love the one-bite rule. I give that suggestion to a lot of my clients because it allows them to enjoy those foods that they like but also not overindulge them. They have a little bit of each thing, so they feel like they're participating and satisfied with the types of foods that are at the party. Make the stacks a non-negotiable when you do plan to indulge a bit.

All of those are such great tips. I like especially how you talked about how you can pick and choose what is most important. That's something that has been an ongoing battle with me. I used to be such in the mindset on a night out, whether on a date night or going to a party, that was like, There are no rules. I can have and do whatever I want. That’s the only way I’ll have fun.

That was something structured in my head. Especially as a person who is shy, I used alcohol to get past that shyness. I've had to rewrite that script and focus on being in the moment with the people I'm with. It's not to say I can't have a treat or I shouldn't have a treat, but to think about it differently going in. I like how you focused on that. Sometimes when we do things the same years and years, we don't even realize that there's another way to do it. That's important.

I love that you brought up the alcohol part. We're going to get into the nitty-gritty of that because that's a whole other topic in itself. The great thing is we have an episode on it. Go check it out. It's Navigating a Party Without Blowing Your Nutritional Goals. I highly suggest going and checking that out as well in tandem with this to give you the best tools you can to navigate this summer.

Is there anything else we should share with people about the summers? Are there any topics and points we didn't hit that we should make sure people know?

An overall umbrella thought for the summertime is setting realistic expectations, giving yourself grace, and also challenging yourself to not fall back into your old habits of self-sabotaging. Even though your calendar may be packed with activities, social events, and vacations, it doesn't mean you can't continue to prioritize your health and well-being and be able to continue to make progress towards your goals. That's my huge takeaway for you.

Jaci, thank you so much for your time. Readers, that's all for this episode. You can find all of the episodes anywhere you get podcasts or you can go to Please be sure to the show and rate and review. That lets other people know what they can expect from the show. You can learn more about the show at I'll be back. Until then, remember, consistency is key.

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