Working It Out: The Struggle Of Socializing While Dieting

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November 2015 vs June 2014

November 2015 vs June 2014

“How do you stay so disciplined?” is the number one question I’m asked about my health journey. Right now I have to respond truthfully and answer, “I don’t.” But as I get back into no-nonsense mode as it relates to my health and weight loss goals, I’m resorting back to the biggest change I made outside of the kitchen and gym: cutting back on socializing.

While there are plenty of “how to eat out while on a diet” guides available on the internet, if you know you like I know me, you won’t kid yourself into thinking you can order the salad instead of the cheeseburger and fries and turn down bottomless mimosas at brunch — at least not on a regular basis. And so instead of behaving like a kid in a candy jar, I had to stay outside the store (i.e. the bars/the restaurants) altogether.

At least for the most part. Working in media this is the equivalent of being offered a one-hour shopping spree in Target everyday and saying, “Nah, I’ll pass.” On a nearly daily basis I receive invitations to listening parties, TV show screenings, movie previews, panels, and dinners with menus I can’t control and open bars I likely wouldn’t be able to resist. Instead of testing my will power and pretending I’d let portion control win the night, I began forwarding invitations to coworkers  or declining to attend altogether so I could leave work, go to the gym, and eat the well-balanced (and weighed) meal I’d already prepared for myself.

As tempting as some of those invitations were, saying no to e-mail blasted RSVP requests was far easier than explaining to friends over and over again why I couldn’t do dinner Friday after work or why I’d love to have brunch on Saturday but I have to train. Initially, those declines are respected by friends; eventually, they’ll start to feel a way about you always saying no and seemingly pushing them away. I did a pretty decent job of noticing when my gym excuse was running thin and I needed to agree to catch up with friends before our friendship hit a crucial turning point, but there were times when I really had to break down how much my fitness goals meant and how susceptible I was to falling off the wagon because, like with anything else, once you get a little taste of freedom, it’s hard to go back to being restricted. So while I may have just been offered an afternoon outing to grab a bite, my all-or-nothing personality would often easily think, “I blew Saturday lunch, might as well blow Saturday dinner too. Oops Saturday’s ruined, so that makes the whole weekend a wash; no working out or eating right on Sunday. Hmmm and now since I didn’t meal prep because I was hanging out Sunday it’s a wrap for the week. I’ll start over next Saturday.” And then 1-2 pounds of potential weight loss became a missed opportunity.

See why saying no was the easier choice? America is the land of cocktails and conversation — dining and dishing. Rarely does anyone extend an invitation that doesn’t revolve around consumption of food or drink which means our basic standard of living is consistently at odds with getting and remaining fit. So, because rarely was anyone willing to be a gym and smoothie date during my quest, I had to put socializing on the back burner and my fitness goals on the front. When my friends see me now near the finish line I know I chose the right sacrifice.

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