Diet – everyone hates that dreaded four letter word. In the natural meaning of the word, it just relates to what you eat, and everything that you eat. However it’s turned into a word that evokes a sensation of something you’re ‘on’ or ‘off’ – which can be damaging to our view of the word entirely! Often, when we think of diets we get frustrated, not at the actual act of dieting, but at the loss that we perceive it to represent when it comes to our social lives. For many dieters, the desire to lose weight and get healthy also comes with darker feelings of isolation and embarrassment. Many feel that they can no longer go out and enjoy their same lifestyle because of temptation, fear of judgment or a basic lack of understanding of their overall health goals.
I’m here to tell you that it does not have to be this way. The ability to achieve the healthiest version of yourself does not come with any rule or caveat that mandates the loss of your social life. In fact, you will most certainly come to see your new, healthy lifestyle choices as an upgrade. You must be solidly committed to your goals, put them in perspective, and prioritize those things that make you feel happiest and most complete.
Losing weight is truly a life-long commitment. That is why so many ‘dieters’ are able to find success for a time, but eventually fall back into old habits after meeting short-term goals. That’s a tough defeat, but it runs so much deeper.
They were never truly committed; they went back to living and eating the way that they did before, and they fell into one of the biggest pitfalls known to the wellness profession. It’s called “yo-yo dieting”, and it’s something you should avoid at all costs. It’s absolutely hazardous to your body, your self-esteem, your hormonal balance, and so much more.
When you are truly ready for a full-on lifestyle overhaul, everything will feel right, fall into place, and you won’t have to yo-yo or make sacrifices. Your goal will become your mantra, and eliminating unhealthy foods will stop feeling like punishment; your healthy diet will be its own reward. Losing weight will become easy, and yes – even when you’re out on the town with your best girlfriends. Perhaps your newfound passion for health will spread. You won’t have to sacrifice your social life once you change your mind-set.
Here are a few lessons that I’ve learned when it comes to maintaining your social life with a healthy, balanced lifestyle:
Lesson 1: Lose the weight, not your lifestyle. Eating well and making healthier choices does not mean that you need to avoid all of those fun outings. In fact, you should go out and socialize. An active social life is a key component to your overall health – don’t neglect this basic human need. Go out and enjoy yourself, but make small changes when you go, such as choosing between having a cocktail or a dessert (but not both). You might also enjoy a small appetizer or two over a large entrée, and use good judgement about what you order (regardless of what section of the menu you are ordering from).
Lesson 2: Be vocal about your goals. This is something that is vital to reaching your overall health goals. Don’t be afraid to share your weight loss goals with your friends and family. They are your support system and will encourage you throughout your journey. More than that, they will hold you accountable increasing your chances of overall success.
Lesson 3: Stop yo-yoing. This is where most people get stuck. Consistency is key. Weight loss isn’t a one-time goal. It is a life-long commitment. As you begin your weight loss journey, always keep in mind that you don’t want to do something today that you won’t be able to maintain for the rest of your life.
Lesson 4: Drink lots of water. Hydration is essential to life, especially when it comes to weight loss. More often than not, when we feel hungry, we are really just thirsty. Drink plenty of water. You will find yourself to be surprisingly full and less likely to overindulge.
Lesson 5: Make meal plans. If you’re not sure when or where you’re next meal is going to be, it’s too easy to sit and binge on what’s currently in front of you. Plan ahead so that you have something to look forward to.
Lesson 6: Don’t make food a reward. Weight loss and the journey to a healthier lifestyle is all about mindset. You need to retrain your mind to see food as fuel and not a confirmation that you’re happy. Happiness is a state of being, not eating. Yes, food is incredibly delightful and should be enjoyed, but don’t look to it as a deserving trophy at the end of the day.