It’s a new year and time to start fresh! The new you is going to look slim, be fit and break ALL of your bad habits. Well, MOST of your bad habits…ok, SOME of your bad habits. We all know what to change in order to be a healthier, slimmer, more muscularly fit adult. The question really isn’t , “What habit can I change this year?” but “Am I willing to REALISTICALLY alter those habits?”
As always, I will be the first to say that completely cutting out everything you enjoy for the sake of “getting fit” is never a long term solution. Drastic changes to your current lifestyle most likely are maintainable for a few weeks at best. It is the small, realistic changes that add up over time and make a world of difference.
That said, in my experience, one of the only bad habits people consistently are NOT willing to give up is their date/bar night with friends or family. Am I asking you to kick that to the curb? No. I am simply attempting to shed some light on what we perceive we are doing compared to what we are actually doing to our diet and exercise goals. Let’s take a look at the damage in this week’s “Bar Night Breakdown”!
The night begins like any other — a small drink or two at the house (150 calories), maybe a light snack (100 calories, you can’t go drinking on an empty stomach!).
“The First Stop”:
Next, it’s out to the bar across the street from the restaurant where you will be eating. Reservations are at 7:30 pm, but you wanted to meet up with friends at 6. Let’s just have a couple of cocktails (200 calories) while we catch up before sitting down to eat.
“Dinner, before ordering”:
It’s 7:30, you have been seated at the restaurant, and you’re getting hungry! You haven’t eaten much so the buzz from the first few drinks is starting to kick in (consider this buzz the little man on your shoulder saying, “Don’t worry about the calories. You’ve had a great week. You can afford to do this.”). You’re thinking, “I need to eat something!” The chips and salsa or bread brought to the table look awfully temping….just a few won’t hurt (we all know “just a few” is at least 2 servings, 300 calories).
“The Main Course”:
You finally order your meal. You choose a small (4oz) filet, your favorite, with sautéed veggies and a house salad. Portions look good! No real issues there….but wait, you did not prepare the food so who knows how much butter/oil was used during the prep? Though the filet is only a 4oz serving, it’s still 300 calories (no hiding those 20 grams of fat!) plus another 50 calories for the oil and salt rub used on the outside of it. The veggies are covered in butter and oil bringing them to AT LEAST 100 calories, and the house salad is about 150 calories (maybe more once you add the croutons, cheese and dressing).
You don’t need a dessert for yourself, but what the heck, you can split one and get a glass of dessert wine. It’s not like you see these people every day, you need to celebrate! You choose the crème brulee (550 calories…yes, 550! This is the average calorie total for restaurant crème brulee) and a 4oz glass of Sauternes (a dessert wine, 190 calories). Since you split the crème brulee it hardly even counts, right? You easily could have eaten the entire thing by yourself!
After dinner you decide the night is over…but not quite. You have a sitter and you can take a cab home. No harm in picking up the car in the morning — let’s have one more drink. You choose the “healthiest” drink you can think of, vodka soda (65 calories), and call it a night.
I’d say that, not only is this a realistic night for many people, the calorie total is pretty conservative. Think back on your holiday season and try to remember if you’ve had nights like this (or worse). Remember, in this example, the person is being conscious of their decisions and making an effort to keep the calories reasonable. Even with that mentality, the night ended up at 1,830 calories. This does not include any of the calories consumed earlier in the day leading up to dinner. It’s safe to call that amount 1000 calories. When your calorie goal is 1200-1500, you can see how easy it is to fall off track (not to mention that the headache in the morning probably caused you to miss an additional workout!).
Given that it takes an hour of hard work to burn 350-500 calories through exercise, we can start to see these nights might not be as “important” as we once thought. Yes, you want to go out and have fun, but do you have to do it every week? Debatable at best.
If this sounds like you, start by making small changes to your routine:
• Eliminate the “pregame” drink.
• Drink a glass of water between each alcoholic beverage to limit your liquid calorie intake (and slow your alcohol consumption).
• Pass on the appetizers.
• Order chicken or fish instead of steak. Lean protein (less fat) = fewer calories.
• Ask for steamed veggies with no butter or oil added.
• Get your salad with no cheese and dressing on the side. Dip your fork in the dressing before each bite.
• Choose wine OR dessert (not both!) and make that your “night cap”.
All of the above will help limit your total calorie intake and leave you feeling much better in the morning. None of these small changes will ruin your night. In fact, you might find yourself having a better time because you do not feel as guilty!
So before coming up with all the reasons to justify your high calorie splurge, take a step back and make some small, realistic changes. One bad week here and there is understandable, but there is no excuse for failing to meet your calorie goal week after week after week. In the end, it’s up to you to decide whether 2014 will be an even healthier year!!