27 Jun 2012
When I first started making a conscious effort to lose weight, I had a really hard time not letting it take over my life. I’d find myself starting to dread social occasions because of the inevitable weight loss obstacles that would present themselves. I’d turn down dinner or happy hours out with friends in favor of making something “safe” in my own kitchen.
And then on the other hand, if I decided to actually go to whatever the occasion was, I would be so focused on the food and the effort required not to eat it, that I wouldn’t even enjoy myself and focus on the real reason I was there – the people.
While that system definitely worked to help me lose weight, it wasn’t sustainable because being social is a really important part of my life. If I avoid going out to dinner, celebrating special occasions, or meeting friends for happy hours, I feel like I’m not really living.
While this is the area I continue to struggle with the most as I’ve moved into weight maintenance and now back into weight-loss mode, I have definitely made vast improvements. I have gotten to a point where I feel like I am definitely health conscious, but also really living. I go out to eat often, rarely miss a party or special occasion, and have really embraced my social life.
Here is a list of the best tips I’ve gotten along the way:
1.) Don’t go hungry. I always used to think that if I ate something before I went to a party or out to dinner, that I’d just eat that plus everything I’d normally eat, but that’s actually not true! When I have a little snack before I go, I’m not ravenous when I get there and am able to make much better decisions.
2.) Alternate alcoholic drinks with water or seltzer. This is a very common tip, but the idea is twofold; you stay more hydrated, and you slow down with the alcohol. The seltzer/water also fills me up, so it helps me eat less too!
3.) Bring a clutch. If I go to a cocktail party or one where I’ll be standing around, I bring a clutch (purse I have to hold in my hand). This means that I only have one hand free for a plate of food OR a drink, and can help me pace myself.
4.) Bring a “safe” dish. If I am going to a potluck or a party, I always offer to bring a dish with me that is healthy and I know I can eat guilt-free. Sometimes I’ll do a veggie or fruit tray with dip, shrimp cocktail, or an Any Grain Goes Salad for a side dish. Even if it’s not a potluck, the host normally appreciates the help!
5.) Distance yourself from the food. Physically. I always try to pick a seat or place to stand that is not right near the food. I’ll go get myself a plate or a handful of what I want, and then move away so that I am not gorging myself out just because it’s there.
6.) Look at everything before you pick. Another very common tip here – but survey the food at a party or buffet before you pick anything. This means you’ll be able to weigh the options and have what you really want once you see everything that’s there! And, if there is something you really want, have some! Otherwise you’ll eat everything else, and then go back for what you originally wanted anyway. Living and losing is definitely not about deprivation!
7.) Pick your splurges. Let’s be real. Sometimes, I have to loosen the ropes and let myself have a good time without thinking about every bite and sip that is passing through my lips. And you know what? That’s OK! It can’t be every meal of every day obviously, but if I’m going out for a great meal or to a party I’ve been looking forward to, I will let that be a splurge and have what I want without thinking too hard about it. One night or one meal will NOT kill my weight loss efforts over time. It’s about persistence, not perfection.
What tips do you use for social settings to stay on track with your weight loss goals?
BethCheck out my latest posts here