Humans need other human time. We’re happiest and healthiest when we get to be around people we give a damn about.
But sometimes, the mere thought of being at a birthday, wedding, potluck when you’re trying to lose weight can elicit a bunch of anxiety and fear. Skip it and here come all those crazy feelings of missing out. Attend and there’s guilt or shame that you “cheated” on your diet.
Chill and relax my friend. You can attend a social event, not freak out, or conjure up a BS excuse to decline. You can enjoy yourself and still make progress towards your goals. It may take time and practice to get there and here are some strategies may help you.
Always have a game plan
Before getting to the party, specifically decide & plan what you’re ready, willing & able to do in terms of eating and drinking. Are you willing to track food? Are you going to abstain from drinking or drink a certain amount? Be very specific with your game plan. You should be very clear how much, how often, and to what degree you are going to do something at the event.
Examples of something not specific and not very useful:
I’m going to eat/drink less
I’ll just have a little dessert
I’ll just taste a bit of everything
These are just vague intentions which don’t give you a clear plan of action and likely will just set you up to fail.
Here’s how you should frame your plans instead:
I’m going to have only 1 plate of food with mostly meats and veggies
I’m going to order the salmon and broccoli off the menu
I’m going to have 2 alcoholic drinks. Vodka soda or red wine.
I’m going to have 1 slice of cake the size of my hand
Notice the difference?
Make clear plans, decide what you’re ready, willing to do and do your damndest to execute and stick closely to it.
Aim for good enough rather than perfection
Leave the all-or-nothing mentality at the door. Eating at social events won’t be perfect and you need to be ok with that. If things don’t work the way you planned or your plan falls through, focus on doing “good enough” rather than stressing out that things weren’t perfect or as intended.
For example, let’s say you get to the restaurant and they don’t have the salmon, rice and broccoli you intended to order. Find the next best option or something similar to what you would have gotten like chicken, potatoes and asparagus.
Basically, don’t immediately go to the “fuck it” mode if one thing goes awry. Shit happens but you can always control your actions and how you respond to the situation. Do the best you can. After the event, think about what you could have done differently and focus on doing that next time.
Don’t show up Hungry
Eat a whole-food, lower-calorie, higher-volume meal before you go so you don’t show up starving and then eat ALL the food. Aim for mostly lean proteins and veggies at meals so you can save the fats and carbs for the event.
Get a good workout BEforehand
Exercise isn’t punishment for what you ate so don’t immediately go to that “burn off everything” mentality and do 3 hours of cardio anytime you have a piece of cake . However, I do recommend getting a great workout in prior to a social event because:
Getting a workout in will put your health and goals in the forefront of your mind and you’ll be less likely to do things that don’t support your goals.
The activity will definitely help offset some of the calories
You’ll likely feel better mentally and physically
I personally recommend strength training and a bit of higher intensity interval training like hill sprints or CrossFit-type workouts since they will generally help you build muscle and use a lot of energy. Do whatever exercise you enjoy though. That’s what matters the most.
Bring Healthy Foods to the Party
I’m totally that guy who who brings veggie trays to parties. If you’re going to a potluck and you anticipate there’s not going to be a lot of healthy food options, bring your own. Make your own healthy dishes (chili’s are always clutch), or bring healthy snacks to share.
If no one eats them, that’s just more for you to take home and enjoy later in the week.
Practice your #basicAFnutrition SKills
Eat slowly, lean towards whole, unprocessed foods, be mindful of portions and stop eating before getting stuffed. If you need to review the #basicAFnutrition habits, go back and read my series on them.
Do more socializing than eating
Focus more on the social aspects of the party rather than the food.
If you’re talking a bunch, you’re probably not stuffing your face because #manners. At a wedding or at the club? Dance your ass off and maybe impress someone enough to take them home for some more calorie burn ayoo! Go mix and mingle at potlucks instead of hanging out at the food table and grazing.
If you happen to be a total introvert and the very thought of socializing gives you anxiety, find the nearest puppy to pet in the corner :)
Practice saying “no thanks”
It’s ok to turn food and people down. Learn to say “no thanks, I’m good” when someone offers you that food or drink you don’t want. You may get shit, but end of the day—it’s your health and your choice. And remember, someone getting offended or butt hurt about you politely saying “no thank you” is more about it being an issue they about themselves than with you.
Be kind to yourself
Leave no space in your life for guilt or beating yourself up. It’s not productive and will likely just lead to you getting in your own way with making progress via intentionally over-eating or any other form of nutritional self-sabotage.
Move on with your life and just get back to business as usual the very next opportunity and I promise this single event will not single-handedly destroy or set back your progress.
Remember no fun ever isn’t realistic or sustainable but partying like a rockstar every night probably isn’t going to move the needle far either. Challenge yourself to seek the middle ground. Leave any of your thoughts below and have a fun and safe weekend!
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