I’m the sort of person who doesn’t say no to plans. When I get a text or email inviting me out to happy hour, dinner, brunch, and the like, I am almost certain to yes. I’m also not the sort of person to make huge sacrifices when I’m out – if I’m in the mood for beer and a pizza that’s what I’m going to order. On the other hand, I enjoy leading a healthy lifestyle, and I enjoy zipping up my skinny jeans and looking good in a bikini as much as the next girl.
I always find it the hardest to balance a healthy lifestyle in the winter. When there are less outdoor activities to partake in, all my friends want to get together for boozy brunches and happy hours to catch up when we might have gone for a hike or a walk in warmer months. This can obviously lead to a bit of turmoil and stress, and can make me ask questions like should I skip happy hour? Should I go but not drink? Should I just ditch my healthy eating altogether? (Haha! No.)
Because I’m not the type of person to turn down a good time, here are some of my tips for balancing a healthy (and fun!) lifestyle.
1. Decide what’s worth going to.
Ok I know I said I never turn down an invitation to a good time, but that’s sort of untrue. I try to limit myself to two social outings per week where I know there might be unhealthy activities going on. For example, if I got invited to a happy hour on Thursday, a pregame with an outing to the bars on Friday, and a boozy brunch on Saturday, I would evaluate all three invitations and decide what’s really worth going to. Once I’ve made a decision, I will either skip the third outing or go but make a commitment to eat healthy and just sip water.
This might not work for everyone, but this usually works out pretty well for me, and allows me to save money and calories, at least a little bit. Of course if you have friends in town or it’s a special occasion you can always go to more events, but I like to keep this rule of thumb throughout my typical week.
2. Plan your healthy habits around your social schedule.
I’ve said this before and I’ll say this again, but having a dry-erase workout calendar right on my fridge is the best thing ever. Not only does it allow me to plan an even workout schedule (a balance of strength, cardio, etc.) but it allows me to schedule my workouts around my social calendar. For example, if I know I have a happy hour with friends on Thursday night, I will schedule a workout for Thursday morning and then plan a rest day for Friday. This helps me stick to my workouts, and then I don’t feel bad if I’m too hungover to exercise one day, since it was a planned rest day anyway.
It’s also important to consider what you’re eating before going out. On a day when I know I’ll be going to a bar around dinnertime, I make sure to eat a healthy and nutrient-packed breakfast and lunch. On these days, I would typically have a glass of green juice in the morning, followed by a nutritious breakfast. For lunch I would have a giant salad packed with tons of greens and some grains, and I would make sure to eat a small snack and fill up on water before heading out to the bar. I like to keep calories low and nutrients high if I know I’m going to be drinking later.
3. Order the slightly healthier meal.
When I’m out to eat, I don’t always want the absolute healthiest thing on the menu. Sometimes when I’m looking at all the delicious options for sandwiches or pizza (clearly I’m a carb queen), a salad with salmon just doesn’t sound appealing. What I like to do is order a slightly healthier meal than whatever it is I’m really craving. Am I craving a pizza? Then I’ll get the thin crust with arugula on top. Am I craving a burger? I’ll get a grilled chicken sandwich instead.
When ordering a meal out, I just try to order something that will taste good enough that I won’t feel disappointed, but will still be slightly healthier than whatever it was that I really wanted.
Psst…this isn’t just for food! I like to do this with drinks too and will usually order a vodka soda with extra lime, when what I really want in a gin and tonic. Not that those are really the same, but, you get it.
4. Share meals with a friend.
This is probably my number one tip for enjoying “unhealthy” food while you’re out. If there’s something you’re really craving like burgers, fries, nachos, or pizza, ask a friend to split it with you. If you’re out with other ladies this is especially helpful since chances are good your friend is craving the same thing but also wants to avoid overeating.
Last weekend everyone ordered dinner while we were out at the bar, and I asked my friend Bianca if she wanted to share a chicken sandwich and fries with me. This way we both got to enjoy half a delicious sandwich, and we got our taste of some delicious French fries. Usually the portions are so big at restaurants that half an order is probably closer to what you need anyway!
5. No regrets.
Ok I lied, this is my number one tip for enjoying unhealthy food and drinks while you’re out. We all (probably) know that feeling of waking up after a night out with friends where your head is pounding and your stomach is hating you from the late night pizza. In these moments, it’s easy to throw in the towel and want to give up on your healthy habits or feel bad about your choices. Just don’t.
Life is short, and you can’t waste a single moment regretting your decisions. Each day is a new start, and there’s no reason why you can’t make today better than yesterday.
One of my favorite things to do these days when I’m hungover is drink some fresh juice and go for a run! I swear it helps! They say your body burns alcohol before it burns fat, and I believe it!
Either way, you have to start loving yourself and all of your decisions – good and bad – in order to be happy in life. So don’t have regrets!
Question of the day: What are your tips for making healthy choices while out?