Social Life: Helping or Hurting Your Fitness Goals?

“Let’s get drinks and catch up sometime?” “We’re headed to pizza for my birthday, care to join us?” “We need popcorn and soda during the movie.”
Our society revolves around food. We eat to celebrate, eat to mourn, eat to make decisions, and eat to catch up. Whether it’s a holiday, birthday, or just a night out with the girls, 90 percent of the time, food is involved.
Now, this would not be enough to derail our good intentions, unless of course these outings are occurring multiple times a week. For most people, this is reality. Lunches out during the work week are followed by breakfast feasts after church and barbeques with friends. Let’s face it, most of the offerings at these events are not exactly “waistline friendly.” We want to show our love and affection (or our cooking skills) through food.
One of the predominant excuses I hear when discussing why a client isn’t seeing the weight loss results they had hoped for is social obligations. “I was really good all week, except a lunch out, doughnuts at a board meeting, drinks with friends on Friday night, and a birthday party on Saturday.” Well, those calories add up and are likely inhibiting weight loss efforts.
I am not telling to you turn down all social obligations or cut “non-fit” friends out of your life. I preach moderation in all things. But the truth is, if you expect to lose weight, you have to make sacrifices. Not willing to cut anything out? Then get used to maintaining where you’re at!
By now you may have cursed me a few times, and that’s okay. Don’t miss the outings, events with your family, or your social outlet. Instead, vow to make better choices when you are put in these situations.
Practice the 80/20 Rule: 80 percent of the time, eat nutritious foods (think fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean proteins, and slow-digesting carbohydrates). This leaves 20 percent of your choices to come from other items. Have four food-centered events one week? Stick to your guns at three of them, and choose one in which you will indulge a bit. Or, if you have strong willpower, have one small indulgence at each of them, but fill the rest of your plate with lower calorie items.
If you are hosting the event, why not serve a healthy spread? More and more people are becoming health conscious and will appreciate the lighter options, not to mention you will all feel much better when the meal is over! Take walks with coworkers instead of lunch meetings, hike or take a fitness class for “girl time”, and plan active family outings that aren’t centered on food. Also, make sure you are eating when you are truly hungry. We have been programmed to eat on cue. Popcorn at movies, cake at birthday parties, and chips and salsa at Mexican restaurants. Do you like these foods? If not, save some calories. If yes, enjoy in moderation (as part of your 20 percent).
Worried you are going to offend whoever prepared the food? Depending on the crowd you are with, explaining your health and fitness goals is an option. You might also politely tell them that although it looks delicious you are already full. If they will not take no for an answer, ask for a small portion to go, then you may do as your conscience pleases when you get home.
Remember, “It’s not worth having the body of your dreams if you can’t live in it.” However, frequently indulging during social outings may be wreaking havoc on your waistline. If it is, stop making excuses and make a change. Focus on the company — not the food — and don’t let what you want in that moment get in the way of what you want in the future. Here’s to a happy summer filled with healthy fun with family and friends!
Lindsey Woodkey of Ellensburg is a certified personal trainer and group fitness instructor with bachelors’ degrees in exercise science and nutrition from Central Washington University

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