Sometimes life is about finding the right balance, and that couldn’t be more true when it comes to staying on track with your fitness goals while also maintaining a healthy social life.
A lot of overconsumption, whether it's alcohol or food, happens due to a lack of planning and leaving things up to chance.
Creating deliberate habits and practices will allow you to have better self-control when you’re out with friends. It’ll also help you increase focus on the important thing - connecting with the people around you.
These are a few tips to keep in mind as the holiday season approaches (or any other time) and you gather to celebrate with your friends, family, and loved ones.
Set Intentions Before You Head Out
It's a practice designed to help you maintain focus on what you would like to get most out of a social situation. Staying focused on an ideal outcome will minimize boredom and make it less likely that you head to the bar during the party because there’s nothing else to do at that moment.
For example, if you’re heading out to a networking event, you can set an intention that you will start X number of conversations with new people at the event that can hopefully lead to a potential beneficial connection.
Or even if it's a family gathering, while less goal-oriented than a networking event, you could still make it a point to catch up with certain family members at the event. Maybe ones you haven’t spoken to in a while.
Whatever the intention might be, having something to focus on can help minimize the tendency to have that extra drink and avoid the hangover the next day.
Check the Menu Beforehand
Nowadays, almost every restaurant has its menu available on the website or on social media.
If you’re meeting people for a dinner out, take a few minutes to check out the menu and decide on what to order before you get there.
You’re more likely to make healthier choices if you can go through the whole menu in a relaxed way, instead of under pressure to hurry up when at the restaurant and the waiter/waitress is rattling off the day’s specials.
Whenever possible, you want to choose foods that are not fried, because you have no control over how much oil they’re using at the restaurant, or even what type of oil. Instead, go for dishes that are either baked or grilled.
Opt for High Protein Choices
Continuing from the previous tip, whenever eating out try to optimize for protein. Try to choose foods that are lower in calories and higher in protein.
For example, skip the burger and go for the steak salad. If it’s not enough to fill you up, then ask for extra protein.
Sure, your friends might give you a hard time if they’re scarfing down a pizza and you’re nibbling at your salad, but they won’t be laughing when you’re rocking a 6-pack when it comes time for the next poolside BBQ.
If you think it’s not realistic to eat smaller portions when you’re out with friends, then you can also try drinking a small protein shake before going out. You’re already increasing protein intake, and then when you’re out, you can eat something smaller so your daily calories don’t explode out of control.
If you set the intention to connect and engage while you’re out, then the focus isn’t to eat a huge meal, but to share a plate of food while you enjoy the company of your friends/colleagues.
Of course, this is not to say you should never gorge on a pizza every once in a while, but these are all tips to help you go out on a regular basis and stay within your calories and macros.
Don’t Fall for the “Healthy Food” Trap
Learn to recognize unhealthy “health foods”. These spots usually present themselves as salad/sandwich restaurants or juice bars that claim to use fresh ingredients.
What they often don’t mention is the amount of sugar and fat they use to enhance flavor, or the extremely high sodium content to preserve foods for longer.
Again, nothing wrong with eating soup from a “bread bowl” every now and then, but if you’re going to these places every day for team lunch, then you might find it difficult to stay within your calorie goals.
Review/Track Your Goals Regularly
It’s not always easy to stick to your guns when it comes to drinking very little and eating clean when you’re out at bars, restaurants, or parties.
Especially if your friends are indulging heavily.
One thing that can help make things a bit easier is if you regularly review your fitness goals and track your progress.
Before you go out, remind yourself why you’re working so hard at the gym and with your nutrition. When you hit your health/fitness goals, how will you feel? What will it do to your confidence? How will it improve your relationships? How will it impact your longevity?
You already know the answers to these questions. But reviewing them before you head out will keep them fresh in your mind, and you’ll be stronger in your resolve and more deliberate in your consumption.
Also, track your progress, whether it’s weight, body composition, strength gains, endurance, or whatever you’re optimizing for. When you can visualize the progress you’re making, you’ll be less inclined to jeopardize it.
It’s Ok to Let Loose Every Now and Then
The last thing to say is that sometimes, it’s nice to take a break from tracking protein, calories, carbs, etc., and just have fun and let loose.
Not only is it good for your mental health, but also possibly beneficial to keep your body on its toes so it can handle a bit of junk food every now and then.
If you do have an overindulgent weekend, don’t see it as a failure. Instead, look at it as a well-earned reward for the work you’ve been putting in.
After all, what’s the point in being in tip-top shape if you can never have a bit of fun? For most of us, the point of being fit and healthy is so we can live long and enjoy good times with our loved ones.
So, cherish the good times, take a shot of our energy wellness shot for a boost of cleansing wellness, and if you went a bit too hard, check out our in-depth Monday reset guide to get back on the fitness trail right away.