Everything is going great. The pounds are falling off. You feel healthier than ever and even the exercise routine is becoming a little easier. But then you remember the work night out you agreed to at the beginning of the month. And that family meal out on Sunday. You want to go, but you don’t want to undo all of your hard work. And there’s the dilemma.
Let your hair down, but keep your guard up
While losing weight doesn’t have to mean leaving your social life behind, a big night out can be a big setback if you’re on a calorie counting diet. Here are four ways to let your hair down, live healthily and have a good time doing it.
1. Think about what you drink
It’s sobering to think that there are over 200 calories in a large glass of wine. To make matters worse, it’s not just unwanted calories that you have to watch out for. Alcohol and weight loss don’t go hand in hand as alcohol is one of the first ‘fuels’ to be burned by your body. That means when you drink, your body effectively ignores your fat reserves and focuses on burning off the alcohol first. And the more you drink, the slower your body’s fat burning process becomes. So it takes longer to lose weight.
Cutting down the amount you drink as part of a weekly diet plan is a great start. And limiting the number of times you drink each week can really help you shed those extra pounds. If you’re meeting friends and don’t want to feel left out, switch to alcohol-free wines, beers and even mocktails. Or mix things up and swap your normal tipple for a guilt-free, diet alternative.
2. Plan ahead
Eating out can be a real treat, but restaurant meals can be packed with hidden sugar and fat. Some research suggests that the average high street meal contains over 1,000 calories. So if you’re on a calorie counting diet take your time before ordering and don’t rush into anything. Most menus are available online, so download the menu before you go and work out the healthier options first. That way, you won’t be pressured into choosing something that derails your diet. Alternatively, order first and sidestep the temptation to choose what your friends are having.
When it comes to ordering, steer away from dishes that include words like deep-fried, pan-fried or gratin, as these are often high in calories. Instead, ask for options that are steam, grilled or baked. Go big on vegetables and protein. And if your meal comes with a sauce, ask for it to be served separately, then just add small quantities. (A tablespoon of that tasty sauce that comes with your Caesar Salad can contain as much 80 calories).
Here are some more tasty tips:
- Don’t skip lunch if you know you are going out with your friends in the evening. If you show up hungry, you are less likely to stick to your meal plan
- Drink water to help keep your cravings at bay - dehydration can lead to a false sense of hunger
- Share a starter with a friend and leave more room for your main
3. Turn work into pleasure
One of the simplest ways to make your social life more active is to make exercise part of it. You can swap the bar for somewhere healthier like a dance class, invite your friends and still have a good time. Or organise a relaxing weekend walk and burn off a few calories while you’re out and about.
During the week, getting together for a run with a friend, or going for a swim together is not only a great chance to catch up, but also a great incentive to keep training. That’s because when you exercise with a partner, you’re far less likely to skip your routine and you’ll always have someone there to push you on when you feel like giving up.
4. Join the club
Socialising with people who understand how difficult it is to lose weight, and are on the same wavelength can make all the difference. They’re never going to judge you when you ask for the broccoli bake or turn down dessert. And by joining weight loss groups such as a local slimming club, online forum or tagging along with a walking group, you can give your fitness and your social life a real boost.
Joining a new club is also a good way to publicly commit to the goals of your diet and exercise plan and make a strong statement to your friends and family. It’s a small step, but it means you’re more likely to succeed when it comes to losing weight.
Losing weight really doesn’t have to mean losing out when it comes to socialising. By being creative, and open to new hobbies and activities, you can still have fun and follow a healthy lifestyle. Now, where did I put that mocktail?