How to Stay Stress Free and Lose Weight this Summer

Summertime is often billed as the season of relaxation and having some much-earned fun in the sun. So why does the idea of all of that downtime often feel stressful? Plenty of reasons: There are vacations to plan, there are kids underfoot at home, there’s a mountain of work to do before you get to take the aforementioned trip – and there’s the lack of a routine that can wreak havoc on the waistline.

“Learning to recognize your own stress triggers can be helpful, because it enables you to work around and cope with them better,” says psychologist Sue Wright, who specializes in stress and self-esteem issues.

Here our Slimming World experts make some suggestions for surviving the summer and emerging more relaxed and pounds lighter.

  • Delegate. List the skills of each family member, and when it comes time to go on an outing, get them all to lend a hand.
  • If you find yourself giving in to the wishes of everybody else in the family – every time – use the “broken record” technique. For example, if the kids are pleading for extra goodies at the store as you shop for a vacation, check that your terms are fair, stick to them without giving in and keep saying no.
  • Restaurants and hotel buffets tend to be very generous with pre-meal extras such as olives, bread drenched in oil or butter, and nuts - and let’s face it, they’re hard to resist! A combination of choice power and food know-how will help you make the best decisions. If there’s meat, trim the fat; if there’s a salad bar, go easy on the mayonnaise-laden foods; and fill up on plenty of undressed vegetables, rice or potatoes.
  • If your hotel has a pool, make the most of it – whether it’s a few quiet lengths in the early morning/late afternoon lull, or exuberant splashing with the kids.
  • Try a “stress map.” Randomly fill a sheet of paper with everything that is troubling you, and then step back and decide which area needs to be dealt with first and which ones can wait. Then brainstorm just one step you could take today. The idea is to find some way ahead (there will be one) and take it, so you feel in control instead of overwhelmed.
  • Practice the art of serenity. Take each situation in stride, remembering that some things just aren’t worth worrying about. That glass? It is actually half full!


For many people, stress goes hand-in-hand with comfort eating – which has led to many a case of the post-vacation blues. Slimming World member Jacqueline Marie Littlejohns, who recently took a two-week vacation, didn’t put on an extra ounce the whole time.

“I filled up on salads and fruit, and walking helped a lot,” she says. “On past vacations, I’ve always come home with extra baggage around my middle, but Slimming World’s eating plan helped me to make better food choices and avoid that this year. Now I’m ready to carry on losing weight this way, and looking forward to future vacations without the worry of coming back with more of me than I wanted!”

Kim Wright, a fellow Slimming World member, knows all too well the stress that can arise during a seemingly fun family outing. Two summers ago, when Kim was at her heaviest weight, she started to board a ride at Six Flags with her kids. To her horror, she realized that she couldn’t fit into the largest seat on the roller coaster.

“No matter how hard I tried, I could not get the belt to latch,” she recalls. “They had to get three attendants to push me in. At that moment I saw this look on my kids’ faces; they were so embarrassed for me.”

Since then, Kim has lost 111 lbs with Slimming World. When they went back to Six Flags last summer, the roller-coaster experience was wonderful: “We got into the front row, where my kids wanted to sit,” she says. “I was able to hop into that little chair and buckle myself in. The looks on my kids’ faces – they were so super-proud of me.”


Here are some great recipes to help you keep your cool when it comes to taking the heat in the kitchen.

5-Spice Fruity Summer Coleslaw

Serves: 4

½ white cabbage, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded
12 radishes, thinly sliced
1 apple, halved, cored and cut into thin matchsticks
1 peach, halved and thinly sliced
2 oz each of green and red seedless grapes, halved
½ cucumber, halved, deseeded and thinly sliced
6 scallions, sliced
salt and freshly ground
black pepper

For the dressing:
4 level tbsp extra light mayonnaise
4 tbsp fat free plain yogurt
juice of 2 limes
1 tsp Chinese 5-spice powder

1. Put the prepared cabbage, carrots, radishes, apple, peach, grapes, cucumber, and scallions into a large bowl. Cover and chill until ready to serve.

2. Mix all the dressing ingredients together in a bowl. Pour over the vegetables and fruit, season to taste and serve.

Barbecue Chicken and Pepper Fajitas

Serves: 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes

14 oz frozen chicken breast strips, defrosted (or pork/beef strips)
3 mixed bell peppers, deseeded and cut into strips ½ inch wide
1 zucchini, cut into strips ½ inch wide
3 scallions, peeled and each cut into 8 wedges
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp mustard powder
1 tsp garlic powder
freshly ground black pepper
1 head of lettuce, washed and drained
2 medium tomatoes, cut into wedges

1. Put the defrosted meat into a bowl and add the bell pepper and zucchini strips with the scallion wedges. Sprinkle over the smoked paprika, mustard powder, and garlic powder and mix well. Leave to marinate for 5 minutes.

2. Preheat a griddle or grill until very hot.

3. Season and cook the meat and vegetables on the hot griddle in 3 batches, for 6–7 minutes, turning occasionally. If using a grill, spread the chicken and vegetables on a grill pan and cook for 8–10 minutes, turning occasionally.

4. Make a bed of lettuce with the washed leaves in a large shallow bowl and arrange the tomato wedges on top.

5. Serve the meat strips and vegetables on top of the salad.

Griddled Beef Summer Salad

Serves: 4
Cook time: Ready in 25 minutes

1 red onion, halved and thinly sliced
¾ cup radishes, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and thinly sliced
Small bag of arugula
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
18 oz lean rump or sirloin steak, all visible fat removed
4 tbsp fat-free vinaigrette
Juice of 1 lime

1. Put the onion, radishes and bell peppers into a wide salad bowl with the arugula leaves.

2. Heat a griddle over high heat. Season the steak and cook on the griddle for 1½-4 minutes on each side, depending on how rare or well done you like it. Transfer to a cutting board and leave to rest for a few minutes.

3. Meanwhile, mix together the vinaigrette and lime juice.

4. Cut the steak into thin slices and add to the salad bowl. Drizzle over the dressing, check the seasoning and toss to mix well. This salad is great served with couscous.

{This is a Guest Post from Slimming World USA}

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