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Friday, August 28, 2009

Fun, Exercise, and a Healthy Picnic

As the cool morning breeze blows gently, I enjoy my morning exercise routine. I notice a couple of leaves have started to change colors and realize Labor Day is just around the corner. These are the first signs that summer is coming to a close. It will not be long before autumn is upon us however there is still time for summertime fun in the sun. For me, Labor Day means a chance to enjoy a healthy picnic in the park. Yes, I said healthy. I am not talking about chips, potato salad, macaroni salad, fried chicken and beer. I know, that all sounds good to me too, in moderation. We are living a healthy lifestyle now, right? I am talking about making some healthy choices that are satisfying, filling and delicious and a day filled with lots of play time to get in some exercise. Here are some tips for healthy picnicking.

Plan to get there early to make sure you get a picnic table and start the day off with some exercise. Bring a Frisbee®, baseball gloves, softball, kick ball and/or a soccer ball to enjoy running around and playing some games. You can also have races and play games like tug of war, tag and red rover if your gang is large enough.

Choose healthy foods and snacks to bring. Set out a spread of healthy appetizers. This can include celery sticks, carrot sticks, broccoli, cucumbers, mushrooms, fat free dip, whole wheat crackers, cheese chunks, nuts and fruit.

If you are going to be cooking out, add some color to your grill and make shish kabobs with boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into bite sized chunks. Cut red and green bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, and any other veggies you like into 1” x 1” pieces. I marinate the chicken and veggies in separate zip lock bags overnight. They should be marinated for at least an hour. I usually use a store bought low-fat marinade but you can use your favorite. Next, kabob them on a skewer and place on the grill, turn every now and then until the chicken is thoroughly cooked or about 45 minutes. The chicken should not have any pink on the inside.

Other options for the meal can include veggie burgers, low-fat hot dogs, grilled corn and baked potatoes. You can have sandwiches made with lean roast beef, turkey and/or chicken on whole wheat bread or buns. Be sure to have all the fixings to put on them like lettuce, tomato, onions, peppers, bean sprouts, relish and mustard.

For drinks bring water and iced tea made with a sugar substitute and/or lemon. If you must have alcohol, opt for wine instead of beer and stay away from sugar filled drinks like daiquiris and margaritas. Again, remember the key to our success is moderation.

For dessert have watermelon and other fruits available. Stay away from desserts filled with sugar or use a sugar substitute when baking. Make an angel food cake with strawberries or blueberries as toppings.

Finish the day with a leisurely stroll or a bicycle ride through the park or maybe a game of kick ball.

It is possible to have a picnic filled with healthy foods and exercise. It is a lifestyle change that we are trying to achieve. We are not on a diet; a diet is only the foods that we consume. It can be healthy or unhealthy depending on the choices that we make. We can achieve the weight loss we are seeking. It only takes our willingness to make the healthy choices in our lives. I am on my way to a happier and healthier me. You can do it as well. Just commit yourself to your goals. I am sure you can achieve success. God Bless and enjoy your Labor Day holiday.

This is the article I wrote for The Henry County Times originally published on August 26, 2009.


  1. Brian,
    I like your views and suggestions on a healthy picnic started off with some exercise and followed with some quality food. Have a good Autumn.

  2. Thanks TC. I hope you are enjoying these last days of summer and have a good autumn as well.


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