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cocktails on restaurant patio during summer

Your Guide to Patio Season, the Healthy Way!

With the warm weather comes the much-anticipated patio season!

It’s time to grab your friends and pick a prime patio in your town, because that sun is calling your name.

But… overdoing it during patio season can seriously squash your fitness goals. Want to lose weight? Want to start eating better? Patio season may pose a difficult and testing time.

For example, Milestones offers a main called Stacked Chicken Parmesan. It rakes in at a whopping 1450 calories (yikes!). That’s more than half of most people’s caloric intake per day.

Luckily, most bars and restaurants are now required to have nutritional info on all menus. This means you can make informed and healthy decisions easier than ever before.

You can still get outside and enjoy patio season with all your friends. Contrary to what many fitness articles say, you can have it all.

Here’s how!

Be Flexible

Here’s the thing: we need social time. Our mental health relies on it. Forgoing patio night with your friends in favour of the gym could do more harm than good, especially if you’re never allowing yourself breaks. Reschedule your workout every now and again (one time isn’t going to hurt!).

Don’t miss out on the good stuff in life. Life is too short (heck, summer is too short!). Take it all in while you still can.

Aim for 150 minutes of exercise per week. Make your quota and then enjoy your time participating in other activities. A healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean all or none. It means finding balance.

And balance is something so many people lack - without even being aware of it. They wonder why they are unhappy. They wonder where they can make changes. What it comes down to is indulging in the things you love while keeping a health-conscious approach. Overindulging makes the things we do love less exciting and less special.

Keep it exciting. Keep it special. Limit yourself, but allow yourself the luxury of indulgence every now and again. It’s a fine line, but knowing yourself and being more mindful of your weaknesses and your strengths helps more than you might expect. Be present in the moment. Don’t sweat the small stuff, like the extra french fry or that single glass of wine.

Plan Ahead

Look up the patio menu beforehand and decide what you want ahead of time. Most fitness articles fail to mention this simple tip. It can save time and potentially awkward questions when you go to order. You’ll have time to really think and even do some research on menu items you aren’t familiar with.

Does your entree come with a sauce? Get it on the side so you get to decide how much you really need.

You can also decide on how many drinks you plan on ordering ahead of time. Unfortunately, a lot of drinks add empty calories. They can be high in sugar and low in most other nutrients.

So, instead set a maximum for yourself. Stick to 1 drink per hour, or substitute every second drink with water. Try a simple vodka water (make it sparkling for some carbonation) with lemon and lime for flavour. It’s hydrating and won’t add up in your calorie count.

Go for the Fresh Stuff

Make this a rule for yourself. Sometimes, it’s great to have that burger, but if you are serious about your fitness or weight loss goals, stick to fresh foods when eating out. They tend to be lower in calories. Or ask to make small modifications to your meals; you can substitute your burger bun for lettuce, especially if you’ve got a craving you just can’t kick.

Whatever works! There are ways to enjoy yourself and still stick to your diet.

Choose fresh veggie or fruit options. For example, the California Spring Salad at Milestones is only 650 calories, a huge difference when compared to other mains. Plus, you are getting some real nutritional content (bonus!).

This doesn’t mean you have to always go for the salad. We get it. Salads can be boring. But they can also be really fun, depending on your willingness to try new things! Get creative with your salads or other foods.

And, try to become more aware of the nutritional content of the food that you put in your body. You’ve got this!

Focus on Balance

We have said it before and we’ll say it again: balance is key. Allow your Friday night patio to be your “cheat” day, and spend the rest of the week working hard. Go easy on yourself. If you’re too strict, you’ll just stress yourself out. It’s not worth it. Let loose every now and then.

Use the 80-20 rule. This means sticking to your healthy diet plans 80% of the time. The other 20%, do what you want. One bad meal is not going to ruin your fitness goals. However, 10 bad ones in a row might. Balance it out!

Embrace Life

Don’t let life just pass you by. For a lot of people, life happens to them as opposed to them making life happen.

Go out with your friends even if it means falling one workout shy of your quota every week. Relax. Plan some quality family time. Participate in activities you know and love. Set and live with intention. Living a happy and healthy lifestyle does include going out for patio drinks and food every now and then. Remember, balance!

Don’t feel guilty. If you want those french fries, go for it. You are in the driver’s seat. Embrace the flavours of those fries. Savour the moment. Remember, cheat days are a-okay — cheat weeks and cheat months, not so much.

The Philosophy of Balance

How do you implement it?

That’s what sets this fitness article apart from all other fitness articles out there. So, we’ve instilled the idea of balance in you — great! However, we also have tips and tricks to keep you on-track during patio season. Did you get a last-minute invite and are unsure how to deal?

You didn’t plan on it. It’s not your cheat day.

Go with it. Swap your cheat day or have 2 this week and none next week. Make it work. Enjoy your life.

Here are some tips to make those last-minute patio adventures healthier (hey, maybe it doesn’t actually have to be your cheat day this time around):

  • Order sauces and salad dressing on the side. You decide how much you want!
  • Order a side salad instead of fries. It is lower in calories, higher in nutrients, and you’ll feel good about it.
  • Drink lots of water before eating. Sometimes we don’t realize we are thirsty as opposed to hungry. Water can also help you feel full, meaning you will eat less.
  • Look at the calories on the menu. Make an informed decision. It is required for restaurants to be transparent for a reason. Use it to your advantage.
  • Skip out on the greasy snacks. Go for veggie dips instead.
  • Don’t eat out every night. Stick to once a week or special occasions.
  • Stick to your regular gym routine. If you receive a last-minute invite, simply reschedule to the next best time for your workout. Skipping out on just one workout is not going to ruin your progress.
  • Steer clear of appetizers. Instead, stick to one main, or share a couple of appies with your friends!
  • Go for a walk after. Walking can help with digestion. It also eliminates the temptation of ordering more drinks or a dessert after your meal. Suggest a walk around a nearby park post-meal. Enjoy the beautiful weather while you can.

Patio season does not have to ruin your fitness plans. Don’t let other fitness articles fool you! There are ways to be healthy and enjoy your summer. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again; balance is important. Keep that in mind!

The summer season is one of the best times of the year. We finally get to shed those winter layers.

So, get out and enjoy. Worry less, and smile more. Have fun with your friends on the patio, without wrecking your fitness plans or goals. You can have it all.

Related Article: Travel Tips to Help You Stay on Track with Your Fitness Goals

Krista Bugden

Krista Bugden

"Believing in yourself is really half the battle," says Krista. Anything is possible and you really can achieve anything you set your mind to, is her motto. Physiotherapist, Piano player, skydiver, yogi, adventure traveler and energetic force of positivity, Krista is herself a (delightful) force to be reckoned with! As... Read More

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