I get a lot of questions on how I stay on track of my fitness goals while still maintaining a social life. Ladies, it can be done. You can still go out with the girls, celebrate date night, host a viewing party – do all the things – and still lose fat, build muscle or maintain your progress.
Before I dive into some of my go-to’s for finding balance, let’s cover a few of the basics:
- If your health and fitness are priorities, you can still absolutely have an active social life. Socializing doesn’t equate to putting your other priorities on the back burner.
- It’s all about balance. I personally recommend allocating 3-4 nights/week to something super social/out of your routine. Not to say every night can’t contain some socializing but I also think a huge component of a successful fitness goal is creating a sustainable routine. Creating some structure that doesn’t feel too restrictive is a great wait to set some guidelines for yourself so when you have days that stray from this (i.e. a night of drinking or a heavy pasta dinner), you have something o bounce back to the next day.
No. 1 Schedule Your Workouts in the Mornings
This isn’t always ideal for everyone’s schedule but I tend to find that getting in a workout in the morning sort of frames me for goal-oriented decision making throughout the day. When I get in a 15 minute HIIT workout at home before jumping to my computer to answer emails, I find myself more likely to drink more water, eat the nutrient-packed meals I prepped for the day and make it to the gym for my weight training workout.
The same goes for the days you know you’ll have social engagements. Try to get in a sweat in the morning or before you head out for the night. It doesn’t have to be a long workout. Fifteen to twenty minutes of a HIIT session is all you need. There’s something about working up a sweat and putting your health first that helps you make choices that are tied to your goals (i.e. fat loss, muscle gains, prolonged healthier habits). You’re also a little less likely to go completely ham at the bar when you know you just put in some crazy effort in your workout.
No. 2 Don’t Be Afraid of Booze
Yes. You can consume alcohol and lose weight or gain muscle or maintain your progress. Obviously, not all boozy drinks are created equal.
- Opt for light, high-quality liquors like vodka, gin or tequila. Add Club Soda, sparkling water, lime and lemon.
- Avoid sugary mixers like fruit juices and sodas (even diet). Every now and then I’ll do a splash of grapefruit juice if I know it’s a fresh-squeezed juice or one without added sugars.
- Drink one glass of water for every alcoholic drink. Not only does this keep you nice and hydrated but you’ll be a little fuller in between shots o tequila and less likely to fill up on sugary margaritas or chips.
No. 3 Pick your Foods Wisely
If ya ask me, the most “dangerous” side effect of drinking alcohol is: food. For some reason, we crave the super sugary, cheesy, carb-heavy snacks when we’ve got a little liquor in our system. No one, and I mean no one, craves a salad. Don’t get me wrong – these bar snacks aren’t the end of the world. I’m the first to admit that every girl needs a night every now and then to truly enjoy and indulge on her favorite things. A world with too much restriction is a world where excess binging and unhealthy relationships with food occur.
However, it’s pretty easy to over-consume the types of foods that mess with our digestion after a night of drinking. To help keep the over-indulgence to a minimum, I like to focus on protein.
- Up your protein intake on days when you’re consuming alcohol. This will help maintain muscle mass and it’s less likely to be stored as fat compared to fats and carbs (scale back on overeating fats & carbs, i.e. most bar food, when drinking).
- If you’re going to a party/social gathering, bring a healthy snack as your contribution. Veggies and hummus or queso, meat and cheese platter, Wasa crackers with guacamole – all great options that will hit that snack craving without making your tummy ache the next day.
No. 4 Don’t Try to “Erase” the Night Before
In my opinion, this is the most important piece of advice I have for you. We’ve all been guilty of “making up” for all of the pizza and beer we had the night before (or queso and margaritas, cake and wine, etc.). A few things to note here:
- Our bodies don’t work in a vacuum. One indulgent meal doesn’t erase your progress. One indulgent meal also doesn’t mean you should feel the need to fall completely off track of your goals until the next week starts.
- Get out of the “good” vs “bad” mentality and absolutely no longer are you allowed to utter the words ” cheat meal”. By framing your food around a reward and punishment system, you’re creating an unhealthy relationship with what is supposed to be fuel and enjoyment for your body. You’re not cheating on your goals by having a cheeseburger. You’re not having a “bad night” because you had some Twizzlers at the movies.
So, when you’ve had an indulgent meal/moment/day, I want you to simply enjoy those treats, drink plenty of water and get back to your routine the next day. Simple as that. Do not kill yourself the next day to try and make up for the heavier foods. No need to crush an extra 60 minutes on the spin bike or only eat 700 calories to make up the difference. Our bodies don’t work that way and all that you’re doing, in the long run, is creating a world where you feel the need to punish yourself for having a good effing time. No more of that.