So you’ve decided to get fit, healthy and in shape and you may even be on this page because you’re looking for your personal trainer to support you on the way. You may expect this article to go on and tell you how you need to end it with your social life, but in fact, as a personal trainer, I’m about to tell you the opposite.
Sticking to your health and fitness program will mean having a program which is sustainable and suitable for long term progress. If you are required to take away something you enjoy or love doing such as socialising with friends and family then the chances are you’re heading towards disappointment and that summer body transformation won’t come.
Here it goes; go out to the restaurant, meet your Tinder date for that drink, and do go to your niece’s birthday that weekend and enjoy a slice of cake! Your personal trainer has given you the go ahead.
It doesn’t end there though, here is the small print. You will need to exercise an element of caution and discipline.
Often my clients will tell me about their evening at a restaurant and say that it all went belly up. This definitely does not need to be the case. Even on a restaurant menu there are always better options. Understandably we have less control over what goes into a meal when it’s not cooked at home by ourselves but at the same time healthy dishes in restaurant are not hard to come by. Restaurants are very aware that customers are demanding healthier options and most of them would cater for this. Even awful corporations like McDonalds offer healthier options such as salads (and have even come up with a Vegan wrap option).
You can make healthier and compassionate options by going for the vegan meals. As a vegan personal trainer I would passionately recommend the vegan option on a menu - typically more care is put into vegan options, where you'll find more a more nutrient dense meal.
You can also go for less processed food options on the menu with fresh veg. You can choose options with have less sugar in creams. You can also choose healthier dessert options such as a sorbet or fruit.
When eating out at restaurants it is also in your control to manage portion sizes. This can be done by ordering a smaller amount of food than you’d assume you’d need and then ordering more at a later time if necessary.
In regards to alcohol, you may choose to stop drinking alcohol altogether, though if this means that you stop meeting your friends in certain social environments then it may simply be better to reduce your alcohol intake. You can do this by alternating your alcoholic drink with a glass of tonic water and lime. There are also healthier drink options, for example I would be more likely to recommend a vodka and tonic water over a glass of wine (but yes, this is up for debate). There are other factors in your control such as ordering a small glass of wine or a half pint – again this comes back to reducing alcohol intake. This can be done by opting for a totally alternative drink altogether such as a coffee (de-caf if late in the eve and sensitive to caffeine).
Other social situations may arise where similar issues arise which seem to go head to head to your healthy eating and drinking plans. These may occur at family parties or client events at work. Make decisions based on the specific scenario you face, there is no textbook answer. For example, does that cake look tasty or is it a sugary Tesco basics cake which will offer your taste buds very little joy? Will anyone be genuinely offended if you do not go for the cake (and if so, maybe we’d be wise to question (loudly or not) whether they should be more supportive of your goal for a healthier lifestyle)?
Either way your actions will always vary dependant on your motivation levels to reach your goals, your environment and pressures you face and your ability to respond to your environment.
Ultimately be compassionate to yourself. If you end up having an unhealthy meal and a number of drinks, then that’s fine. Draw a line under it and start afresh the next day. One bad night won’t make you put on lots of weight, just like a good meal won’t get you into shape overnight.
Socialising is important and must always be a welcome part of our lives. At the same time we have more control over the setting and our actions then we’d often realise, so we can still have fun and get healthy too. Thank fully it does not need to be one or the other!
So get out there and enjoy a drink with your friends.. but for tonight, just the one.
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