Summer Slim-Down meal plan: Week 5

Follow our eight-week summer meal and fitness plan to look and feel your best, without feeling deprived. This week’s focus: Make sure your mind is on the same track as your body

Summer Slim-Down meal plan: Week 5

Source: Web exclusive, July 2011

You’re halfway there and a little bit of self-evaluation at this point will help you sail through the last four weeks. Your healthy meal plan is about more than just food. It’s about making lifestyle changes that will support your weight loss, as well as help you maintain the results.

Weight loss and weight management is going to be a lifestyle you live from now on, says registered dietitian Mary Bamford. ‘To lose weight you have to get enough exercise and sleep, you have to have pain management, you have to manage stress and you have to understand you’re going to have fluid fluctuation,’ she says.

Write it all down

In Week 1 Bamford recommended devoting 30 minutes each day to your weight-loss program, including planning and prepping for meals and scheduling workouts. In addition to this planning, keep a log of your journey. Bamford suggests keeping a detailed food journal to keep yourself accountable to the plan you’ve created. As you stay on track, your journal can become less detailed, but keep it in your back pocket as an assessment tool for those times when you may start gaining weight.

‘Stay on the plan and be honest as you look at your food records,’ says Bamford. ‘Ask yourself: ‘Is this really what I’m doing? Is my exercise the right intensity? Am I honest about my portion sizes?”

Jotting down your sleep patterns and mood along with your food and exercise habits is also important, says Bamford. By rating your mood, ‘you might find that three days in a row you were really grumpy or sad and you had cravings every night.’

It’s that self-awareness of knowing when you’re prone to eat more or have more cravings that will help keep your meal plan on track well beyond eight weeks, says Bamford. By knowing what your body desires under certain circumstances, you can make the appropriate move to address your body’s needs, instead of getting discouraged.

Sleep loss leads to cravings

Getting enough sleep is another crucial element for losing weight and keeping it off. ‘Everyone needs eight hours of sleep,’ says Bamford.

For proper sleep hygiene, Bamford recommends only sleeping in the bedroom (that means no TV, iPad or BlackBerry) and unwinding "at a decent hour"’including no screen time, which is stimulating’to allow your mind to settle.

Always going to bed too late? Ask yourself why you’re putting off sleep, and why that’s a higher priority than weight loss, not to mention general health and well-being. Yes, there are going to be times when a pressing deadline or a sick child will prohibit you from getting those full eight hours. Just don’t make sleep deprivation a habit.

‘When you’re sleep deprived, your body will have cravings and you’ll be hungry,’ says Bamford. ‘Getting enough sleep is part of the priority. It makes weight loss a priority.’

Try these tips for achieving a good night’s sleep, or these 100-calorie snack ideas to satisfy a craving for sweets.

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