Once, two women went to happy hour.
Both had just returned from a week of traveling. One of them was the other woman’s trainer. In a plot twist, the trainer got sick on her trip and took over two weeks to recover.
The girls were trying to get back in the regular habit of eating better…one didn’t want her trainer’s disapproval and the trainer wanted to set a good example.
Of course, I’m talking about me and my long-time client.
So what happened at the happy hour?
S: We want red wine, yeah?
Me: Yum! Yeah! I’m hungry. Appetizers? No bread or that jazz, though.
S: No bread!
Me: LOOK they have Buckledown Belt & Suspenders for only $3 dollars! Have you had it?
S: Never heard of it!
[Both]: One beer, then we stick with red wine!
Cute ginger hair server: Do you want to order food? We have hot dogs wrapped in bacon…
Me: Perfect! Straight up meat.
Manager: So sorry, we ran out. But an appetizer is on me. I recommend the crab dip toast.
Both: Oh, alright. It’s free.
Once slice of toast arrives, we go halvsies and demolish in two minutes. 10 minutes later…
Me: Ugh, I’m still hungry.
S: We can split something!
Ginger: I recommend the chicken dip.
Me: [Thinking it was an actual dip] Sounds good!
[Food arrives, and it’s a chicken SANDWICH, with FRIES.]
Me: [Pause] Well, let’s take off the bread and eat the chicken so that…
S: That leaves the fries to enjoy.
Me: [Shoving fries in mouth] Exactly.
Reflecting on our efforts makes me laugh but I also remember how hard it is to make eating well a natural instinct.
It’s hard to be on that task every minute, every weekend, every day of the year.
I have nothing against happy hours or brunch. I don’t believe in depriving anyone of the fun stuff…as long as you eat well (AKA healthy) most of the time.
When I got sick on my trip, I lost the energy to train. I didn’t let that hold me back on participating in the social events my friend had planned.
I found myself powering through with OTC medicine and a nice beer buzz at the events…
meaning I got lazy with my food choices…
I didn’t get better when I got home…
which made getting back to better food choices was difficult.
I bet this sounds familiar.
The longer you let bad habits linger, the longer it takes to get back on track with better choices.
Despite all this, I knew the body was flexible and adaptable.
All I had to do was make a decision and get back to where I was in a short time with just a few, no B.S., guidelines. I don’t like complicated, and you probably don’t, either.
Even if you’re doing well now, these tips can help you avoid too many slip-ups.
[Note: This is not a dietary plan recommendation. I stay rooted in these ideas despite the plan I’m following.]
1. One or two indulgent meals a week, not an indulgent 24-48 hour extravaganza
“It’s the weekend” is a statement that comes out of our mouths (or hands) too often.
Look at the calendar. Weekends are 25% of the entire month. What do you think will happen if a full quarter chunk of the month is full of booze and cheat meals?
Just because you indulge on one meal doesn’t justify treating your body poorly for the rest of the day, especially on the weekends. On the Saturday after my happy hour I did a kettlebell workout, turned down FREE pizza for dinner in favor of steak steak chimichurri and Halo top protein ice cream.
Trade-offs don’t have to mean unsalted broccoli for dinner all the time, you know?
2. Where are the greens at?
I give every main meal the green light (ha-HA) when I spot the green. Other colors count, but I like to think of the greens as my minimum.
Breakfast: Spinach/avocado in my smoothie or eggs
Lunch: Some kind of stir-fry, chili or a huge dollop of roasted veggies as a side.
Dinner: Another hefty helping on the side, or slice/chop up a vegetable to act as the carb replacement
Bonus: Snack on raw veggies to fight off the urge to run into Walgreens for salty snacks.
- Green: Peas, broccoli, green peppers, spinach, asparagus and kale.
- Orange: Carrots, orange bell peppers
- Red: Bell peppers, tomatoes
- Purple: Beets, eggplant
You know your colors now!
3. Less alcohol
Hopefully this doesn’t get anyone’s underpants twisted in a knot.
I follow these drinky drink guidelines:
- A pint of quality stout or IPA > 5 glasses of nonsense beer.
- Red wine > mixed cocktails
- Nothing sugary or fake, like diet soda with liquor.
4. Eat minimally processed foods without added sugar
Processed foods made from sugar and white flour are lust. Pleasurable, but fleeting. But it does leave back some things: Abdominal fat, insulin spikes, inflammation, and hunger for more.
It does nothing to help you stay lean or lose weight.
Brands are sneaky about it. Keep an eye for it on the labels. “Healthy granola bars” aren’t all completely “healthy.” Fill up bags with food over in the produce section, eat frozen fruit as dessert most of the time, and use a dairy alternative with your caffeine.
Ultimately, you have to own it.
You decide on your lifestyle.
Are you that person that slips up every Friday – Sunday and tries to make up for it with a greens smoothie on Monday?
Or maybe you’re the one who turns down Thirsty Thursday beer & pizza when you know you have day drinking dates on Saturday?
It might feel tough at first, but it’s soon forgotten when you feel stronger, sexier and self-assured.