Strong Mommas Podcast

June 22, 2021 by Megan Dahlman

Swimsuit Season!

Megan Dahlman Strong Mommas Podcast

Swimsuit Season! Practical Fitness & Nutrition Tips to Feel Your Summer Best

Swimsuit season is here and most of us are probably dreading putting on summer clothes, especially that swimsuit. We’re uncomfortable and self-conscious about how we look, but as we learned last week, it’s far more important to go into this season focusing on how our bodies feel and what our bodies can do! 


But something that often happens during the summer season is switching into vacation mode, completely abandoning all healthy habits and making ourselves feel miserable. Fortunately, there’s a way to approach your fitness and nutrition habits for the next few months that helps you stay on track. I want you to be able to fully enjoy all the wonderful things that summer brings while feeling your absolute best. Oh friend, this is going to be so helpful!

Swimsuit season, or summer clothes season, brings with it a sense of dread. We find ourselves thinking “I’m embarrassed and uncomfortable to wear less fabric”, so we spend our summer completely self-conscious about our bodies, paying more attention to how we look rather than how we feel, which completely robs us of all the joy that summer brings! 


And then at the same time, we get into “vacation mode”, completely abandoning all healthy habits, making us feel miserable. 


I have certainly been guilty of this. We go camping a lot during the summer, and there are certain foods that we only bring camping: donuts and chips are the big ones. You’ll also see foods like hot dogs, potato salad, and the adult beverages. There have been plenty of camping trips where I have made myself miserable. 

  • I remember one day that I just ate with complete abandon. (I’ll be completely honest here) Donut, mimosa, french toast with syrup, hot dogs, potato salad and chips for lunch, afternoon on the boat with several Truly’s, more chips, wheat thins with artichoke dip, burgers with more potato salad for dinner, s’mores and a beer or two around the campfire. (I had probably over 10 splurges in one day) 
  • Yikes! I felt absolutely miserable and disgusting. Body fat and fitness aside, I just felt gross. 
  • And what mindset did that trigger in the moment? “Tomorrow I’m not going to touch anything unhealthy and try to eat perfectly all day long.” But while you're on vacation, that’s nearly impossible! 
  • So, I threw in the towel and didn’t even try and had another day of making myself miserable, saying I’ll pull it back together once we get back home. 


Summer is the prime season for all-or-nothing behaviors, “vacation mode” mentalities, and habits that resemble a Six Flags roller coaster. But it doesn’t have to be like that! I want to teach you some simple tips so that you can avoid days, and entire vacations, that look like mine did, helping you feel your best all summer long. 

Having the right mindset and attitude during swimsuit season:

  • You need to stop trying to tidy and tighten your body up heading into summer
  • Continue to remind yourself that every body is designed differently, with a different genetic body type. So let go of your expectations of what you should look like. 
  • Turn your attention on how your body feels and what your body can do. 
  • And then rejoice in that!! 


Practical Fitness & Nutrition Tips to Feel Your Summer Best 

  • All about maintenance mode vs. progress mode during the summer 
    • And how to avoid digressing or losing ground 
  • How to establish your non-negotiables and what those should be so that you’ll feel good all season long
    • Nutrition non-negotiables
    • Fitness non-negotiables

Be aware of the different “modes”

First, be aware of the different “modes” - progress, maintenance, and digress (regress) 

  • We haphazardly try to be really healthy one minute but then fall completely off the wagon the next. What you don’t realize you’re doing is jumping between progress mode and digress mode
  • What are the different habit modes?
    • Progress mode = Making physical changes happen, whether that’s body composition changes or performance and fitness changes. 
      • To be in progress mode, to create change, it requires clear boundaries and strong discipline. If you want to see progress, you can’t wing it. You have to have a plan in place, and then follow that plan come hell or high water.
      • With nutrition, it’s following the 85-90/10 rule
      • With exercise, it means that you are doing purposeful workouts at least two times per week. You can absolutely see change with only two workouts per week, especially if they’re the right workouts. But this, of course, is the bare minimum to see some sort of progress. Major progress happens with about 4-5 planned workouts every week. And you do NOT miss a workout. 
    • Maintenance mode = Holding on to what you’ve got, maintaining where you’re at. For some people, they reach Maintenance Mode when they feel like all their goals are fully met. Or they reach it when they can no longer expend the effort necessary to be in Progress Mode. 
      • Maintenance Mode still involves boundaries and discipline. But it’s more relaxed. The path is wider and things feel looser. There’s a feeling of contentment, but there is a threshold that you’re staying above to ensure good health and true maintenance (otherwise you'll digress!).
      • With nutrition, it means that you are sticking to your good, healthy eating habits 70-80% of the time. So if you’re eating 4-5 meals every day, 7 days a week, you are splurging about 7-10 times. 
      • With exercise, it means that you are doing lots of planned workouts, but if you miss one for whatever reason, it’s not a big deal. You’re averaging about 3 good workouts each week, or at minimum one workout per week. You’re staying strong and fit, but significant changes aren’t necessarily happening.
    • Digress mode = losing ground. You’re losing your fitness, your body composition is changing in the wrong direction, and your health is declining. 
      • Digress mode usually has very little boundaries or none at all. Your habits are unimportant and there’s no checks and balances on your behaviors. 
      • With nutrition, you’re splurging 2 or 3 times a day. 
      • With exercise, you’re missing entire weeks without a planned workout.


  • For many people, it makes the most sense to be in Maintenance Mode throughout summer. The more relaxed approach allows you to enjoy traveling and the spontaneity of summer, but without digressing and feeling like you’re totally overdoing it.
    • Usually making progress during summer is simply not realistic. You don’t have the environment and the circumstances to be focused enough.
    • However, I know for teachers…summer can be a great opportunity to actually be in progress mode
  • You have to be honest with yourself and realize that even if your goal is simply to maintain, it’s still going to require boundaries and discipline, (these are the non-negotiables that we’re going to talk about in a minute.) You’re not off the hook. When you let yourself off the hook and become wildly inconsistent, this flips you over into digress mode.
  • The wrong thing to do throughout summer is to pop between Progress Mode and Digress Mode all summer long. I’d rather you just stayed more even keel, in maintenance mode, all summer long. It’s so much better for your health and your mind.
    • But what’s good to know is that you can jump between progress mode and maintenance mode

Secondly, after you’ve figured out what mode you’d like to be in…whether that’s making progress or just maintaining… establish your non-negotiables and be clear about what those should be so that you’ll feel good all season long


  • Non-negotiable habit: means that that habit is not up for debate or discussion. No negotiations, excuses, or deviations from the plan allowed...regardless of how you may feel or how tempting it sounds. 


      • You have decided ahead of time (removed from the heat of the moment) that these particular habits are necessary for you to feel and operate at your best. 
      • These habits happen no matter where you are or what you’re doing


  • For a more in-depth discussion on non-negotiables, go back and listen to episode 101. 


    • Nutrition non-negotiables (for maintenance mode) - You might add or subtract from this list, but this is what I suggest: 
      • Eat every meal, no skipping meals - this will always lead to poor choices later
      • Drink water all day long - at least half your body weight in ounces of water or pale yellow urine
      • Eat protein and produce with every meal - make every effort no matter where you are to choose or bring something that has protein in it and has some fresh produce. The more produce the better
      • Decide what your favorite splurges are, and stick with those
      • Most days have only one splurge (like a donut, or chips with your lunch), but no more than two
      • Adjust up or down based on how you feel


  • Fitness non-negotiables (for maintenance mode) - 


      • Do something active every day
      • Do at least one full, intentional workout every week
      • Listen and respond to what your body needs 
        • Stretch before bed? 
        • Foam roll at night while watching a movie 
        • Go for a long walk around the campground, even if you already did something active that day 


  • Have some accountability to stay on track with these simple things. 


      • Bring in a friend or an accountability partner. 
      • Join Jumpstart 30. Registration is open right now, and even though it might seem like a terrible time to do a fitness and nutrition program, it’s probably the best. 
        • The tasks everyday take you less than 10 minutes and can be done anywhere, even while you’re camping or traveling. 
        • It will help keep you focused and in maintenance (if not progress) mode! 


  • The most important non-negotiable habit is being mindful. 


    • When you’re not strictly adhering to tight boundaries, you MUST turn your awareness up even higher than normal. 
    • Constantly ask yourself, “How am I doing? How is this making me feel? Do I even like having or doing this? Are there any adjustments needed to feel better?”

Examples/Case Studies (You can do this, too!):

  • A better summer vacation experience: 
    • I learned from that terrible experience and made significant changes for the next time. 
    • Made sure to bring lots of veggies and good convenient forms of protein. 
    • I intentionally said no to certain “not-so-favorite” splurges and said yes to the ones I really liked. 
    • I moved and did something active every day. 
    • I got my workouts done before and after our trip so I stayed on track. 
    • Came home from that trip feeling so much better about my choices and my body felt great. I didn’t feel like I needed to fix anything.

The big idea

The big idea here is that…

  • You have to intentionally recognize the difference between maintenance mode vs. progress mode during the summer, and plan to be in whichever mode fits best. 
    • While making sure to avoid digressing or losing ground 
  • And then you must establish your non-negotiables and what those should be so that you’ll feel good all season long
  • It takes some planning and forethought, but if you constantly check in with yourself all season long, asking those mindfulness questions, you’re going to feel absolutely great this summer. 


Your action steps now are to: 


Ok so go, have the right mindset and attitude about your body this summer. Turn your attention on how your body feels and what your body can do. And then establish non-negotiable habits that help you feel great all summer long. And then to make it even easier - definitely, go sign up for Jumpstart 30!

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