Tips For Tracking!
It is not uncommon that weekends are the hardest to “survive” when you have health and fitness goals. It was the same for me, and its something I hear ALL the time with my clients. It is easy to stay on track during the week while we stick to our routine. Work, gym, sleep, repeat. Then, the weekend comes and it seems as though our will power and decision making skills evaporate completely. The evaporation of skills is a mentality. It derives from fear and intimidation of feeling capable of making choices that align with your goals when social gatherings occur, or dinner is at your favorite restaurant. There is, believe it or not, a happy medium between YOLO and “I’m on a meal plan, I can’t have that.” That black and white mentality is typically to blame for set backs. Learning to account for meals out and how to fit foods in without blowing my macros or progress was one of the most empowering tools I developed during my fitness journey. Don’t be a prisoner to your meal plan, and don’t allow intimidation of trying as an excuse to fall off the wagon. Below are some tricks that help me navigate my weekends and social time without compromising my progress. My goal in sharing them is to help others break this frustrating cycle.
- You can’t out train a bad diet: The first step to finding a better weekend balance is understanding that you cannot out train a night of binge drinking and eating whatever your heart desires. You can be as diligent as you want to throughout the week. But, consistency is what your body craves the most and is also what will bring you the best results. Knowing that repeating those nights weekly are making all of your work and efforts during the week go to waste should be some motivation to start to tone it down.
- Check the menu ahead of time: Knowing your options and eliminating the pressure to make a quick decision can make a huge difference. Most menu’s are available online if you know where you are headed in advance. Going to a friends house? Ask them what is being served, and offer to bring something! That is a great way to add in healthy foods or things that you know will work for you that day. Lots of menu’s are available on My Fitness Pal and have the macro information on there. If you don’t see it, you have the option to request it on your tracking app. If you have a favorite spot and the menu isn’t available yet, request away! TheMacroExperiment.com is another outstanding resource for this. You can also call the establishment and ask them how things are prepared. If you had a serious food allergy, you wouldn’t hesitate to do this. Your goals and progress are not any different!
- Menu Manipulation: Half the battle to successful ordering is knowing what to look for and request. When reviewing a menu, request options that are baked or grilled. Most menu’s will also have things that are on the “lighter side” to select as well. If you want something low fat, request chicken or fish instead of beef. Low on carbs? Request double the veggies instead of the starch it comes with. Here is a little list of quick tips I use every single time I am out to eat.
- Eat before you go! That way you aren’t starving when you sit down
- Double the water, drinking as much as I can helps me with portion control
- Skip the bread basket- don’t hesitate to ask them to hold the chips or bread, you don’t need that crap on your table!
- Request a baked/ grilled option, and ask them to hold the butter and oil. That way, you can ensure your protein was cooked simply with herbs and spices only, and not injected with additional crap for which you cant account.
- Sauce on the side- when in doubt, ask them to either hold the sauce or put it on the side for you. You can always dip your fork in it, or pour it yourself so that you can better estimate serving sizes, etc.
- Double the veggies- Most entrees come with a starch and a vegetable side. If you are low on carbs or want to add volume, request double veggies! The brighter and more colorful your food, the better.
- Request a “half” size! This is a GREAT way to aid with portion control, especially if you are someone that struggles to not pick at your plate. Get half the burger, or half the salad, or half the entrée. You can take the other half home, or give it to your Husband, if he is a bottomless pit like mine!
- You don’t HAVE to finish your plate. Eat slowly, and eat until you are satisfied. If you know the portion was massive, section off the amount you’d like to eat and then make a mental note that you are finished after that point (I will sometimes even cover my plate with my napkin once I know I am really full. That prevents me from continuing to pick and eat when I know I should be finished).
- Portion sizes: In order to track accurately, you need to have an idea of typical portion sizes. For meat, a 4-5 oz serving is typically the size of a closed fist. When in doubt, track for a bigger portion. 1 cup of veggies is about the size of your palm as well. It is always better to over shoot in this instance. A typical pour of wine is 5 oz., etc. When in doubt, ask your server! It is their job to relay any information you need about what you are putting in your body. Knowledge is power.
- Tracking on the fly: There will be plenty of times at social gatherings, when traveling or attending dinners out where you have to just guess and go. Yo can always insert each menu item individually! Tracking SOMETHING is so much better than throwing in the towel and ignoring your choices for the night. Any accountability is better than no accountability. It doesn’t need to be perfect! Family dinner at your favorite burger joint? You can enter your burger like this: 1 hamburger bun, 1 oz cheddar cheese, 1 tomato slice, 6 oz chicken breast, 1 oz ketchup, 1 lettuce leaf, etc. You can do that with ANY meal that you order. The menu items have to list all ingredients, so take note and enter that stuff in!
- Be Needy: Restaurants expect special requests. They are used to serving people with severe food allergies or intolerances and are happy to cater to their needs. You are no different, and there is no shame in making special customizations to your order! Don’t be afraid to request different variations of what you need. The will be HAPPY to accommodate you, and you will feel so much better for it!
- Ignore the haters: People will ask you questions or comment when you take your health into your own hands. They will ask you “does that fit your plan?” or why you made special requests. Don’t let this deter you from putting your goals first. When this happens to me, I remind myself that they are usually curious and wanting to learn. People envy that kind of self control, and want to emulate it. Own your choices, and shout them from the rooftops. The people that matter will always support your choices and help you stay the course!
As this weekend approaches, try implementing these tricks. You will be shocked at how much you can enjoy your social life and weekend without the guilt that you completely bulldozed your fitness goals.