It’s that time of year again. Time for graduations, bridal showers, baby showers, weddings, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, Father’s Day, Fourth of July, Red Sox games, barbeques, summer vacations…you get the point, there’s a lot going on.
A common question that has been asked by the women in my Lean in ’14 coaching group has been how to handle social gatherings without depriving themselves of what they love and destroying they’re fat loss goals. As with anything, what works for one person may or may not work for the next. Here are a few strategies that I’ve found helpful for both myself and my clients.
1. Make a plan and stick to it. Whatever it is you are going to do, DO it, and stick to it. Are you going to stay away from the appetizers so you can enjoy the entrée? Great! Do it. Maybe you would rather have a couple glasses of wine. Awesome. If that’s the case, then plan to have your wine, but skip the dessert. Can’t pass up your aunt’s dessert? Then enjoy it. But stick to more protein and veggies for your meal. Think about what it is that you REALLY want, and then plan you eating and drinking around that.
2. Eat light leading up to your event. Just like everything else, what works for some, may not work for others. Every year around the holidays I read magazines that say you should eat before going to parties so you don’t end up overeating when you get there. This is something that I’ve tried, but I tend to have better success doing the opposite. I enjoy eating what is served at parties, so typically I’d rather stick to protein and veggies all day and go to the party and enjoy whatever I want (in moderation of course). I will make some concessions as I suggested in #1, but for the most part, I’ll eat a little bit of whatever it is that I want.
3. Realize that the majority of the food that is available to us at these parties, will be available tomorrow and the next day and the next day. There is no reason on earth why we need to eat every single thing offered, just because it’s in front of us! And if there is something there that is super special and something that we just can’t pass up, then we eat it and use numbers 2 and 3 to figure out where it fits in. This tip is always a good one to use around the holidays as well. I swear I wait all year just to eat Apple pie at Thanksgiving. I know it’s available all the time, but I usually only eat it then, so I always look forward to it and enjoy two pieces one piece.
4. Eat starch or fat, but not both. I’m terrible at this and struggle with this concept, but I still want to pass it along, because like I said, it might work for you! I tend to eat what I want to eat and move on, but I do feel the effects when I combine the two. I’ve written about this before, but the hormonal response we get when we combine fat and starch is very different than when we eat them alone. In Jade Teta’s words “This combo seems like it is the most insidious fat storing signal because it raises insulin so much”. Even knowing this, I will not eat guacamole with a fork. I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to raise my insulin and fat storing processes for chips and guac.!
5. Do not stop exercising!! I work at a health club for women and every spring there is a huge amount of women who put their membership on hold for the summer. Some may be going to spend their summer up north, or to the Cape, which I totally understand, but others say that they are just going to workout outside. In the 10 years I’ve been at this gym, I always hear women come back in September saying that they haven’t done anything all summer. They’ve gained 7 pounds and need a personal trainer ASAP. Putting your membership on hold is a great idea, IF YOU ARE GOING TO EXERCISE ON YOUR OWN! And I’m not talking about just going for a jog a couple times a week. You need to strength train (cannot stress this enough). If you do it right, strength training will do more for your body than cardio, and it takes so much less time! No one wants to workout for an hour in a gym during the summer, I get that, but the thing is, you don’t have to. Efficient exercise in the form of strength training and interval training will be your best bet for fat loss, so don’t skip it for the summer!
What it comes down to is this, enjoy what you are planning to enjoy, and then move on. Just because you were at a bridal shower and had a few glasses of wine and maybe a few bites of cake, doesn’t mean that you “screwed up the entire day” and should continue to eat and drink everything in sight before “just starting over” the next day, or on Monday. We talk about this all the time in the coaching group. We’ve all been there. And we all know where that gets us. You always have the choice to get right back to your “lean routine”. You are always in control.
It totally doesn’t feel like Memorial Day is less than 3 weeks away, but it is. Soon enough we will all be busy going to this party and that event, and maybe taking a vacation or 2. Hopefully you can play around with a few of the suggestions above to help keep you on track this summer. Because you know what comes after summer right? You got it, tailgating, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Holidays, etc…It never stops! Make a few of these tips part of your “lean routine” and you won’t have to stress over having a good time while maintaining you physique. Now we just need Mother Nature to get the memo that it’s mid May!