The Art of Healthy Indulging

IMG_3369.JPG

What a special time it was this past weekend for my cousin's wedding in Boston!  Weddings, holidays, vacations, birthdays...life is full of celebrations and times that are meant to be enjoyed.  However, weight gain is a common concern that people have during these times, especially when the holiday season rolls around. So how can you enjoy all of these yearly, monthly, or even weekly occasions while staying on track with your health and weight goals?  The good news is that It's totally 100% possible!! This post is all about that & my own reflections on this past weekend and how I used certain strategies to enjoy the food & fun without any guilt. 

Last weekend was my cousin Ali’s wedding (YAYYY!!) She is one of my favorite people and I had been looking forward to this weekend for a while. 

Strategy #1: Identify & Evaluate - Think about what the event or occasion will be like - who you'll see, what food will be there, what your goals are (because it's important to keep those in mind), what you're excited about, etc.  This can help you mentally prepare for what's ahead and get you thinking about how you want to handle things.  Maybe you end up identifying potential challenges or specific meals that you want to go lighter on.  Whatever it is that you identify you can then use that information to develop a goal or plan that addresses a thought, priority, and/or concern (your game plan) or just simply be mindful of those things. There were several things I identified and expected going into last weekend:

  • It was going to be an amazing time catching up with family + meeting and celebrating with a lot of new people.
  • The trip to Boston would involve a 5-6 hour car ride on Friday and then again on Sunday. (Thinking about what snacks I can bring!)
  • Although a fun weekend, it was also going to be busy – in a good way.  Catching up with people, different activities, helping out and getting ready to be a bridesmaid.  I gave myself permission to go off my exercise routine for a few days since it seemed a little overwhelming to focus on that and everything else going on.  It also wasn’t like I wouldn't get any exercise.  Lots of walking and lots of dancing at the wedding would count!  It felt liberating to not expect more exercise then I could handle that weekend.
  • And lastly, there would be food.  LOTS of delicious food all throughout the weekend.  I expected that there would be multiple options that I may not eat on a daily/typical basis so in advance, I gave myself permission to enjoy whatever I wanted to try.  No guilt.

Thinking about all this I wasn’t too concerned with the exercise knowing I'd go back to my routine in a few days.  All the delicious food that would be available was another story.  Here's is how I handled my weekend eating habits in a "healthy" way while still enjoying what I wanted.


Friday

The day started with hopping in the car and making our way up to Boston!  Lots of rest stops along the way and it was inevitable that we'd need to stop at 1 or 2 of them.  Strategy #2: Pack Snacks - To avoid processed food purchases while traveling I packed healthy snacks which included sea salt popcorn, rice crackers (Blue Diamond Nut Thins), KIND bars, sliced cucumber, and water bottles.  I was craving an egg and cheese sandiwch at one point so decided to treat myself to Subway & got a flat bread with egg white, 1/2 slice cheese, and a handful of spinach. 

 Amazing BBQ spread for the Friday rehearsal din! Mmmmm corn bread!   Strategy #3 :  Pick n Choose . - Treat yourself to what you really want.  Corn bread is one of my favorite foods so naturally I wanted a piece.  I treated myself to that +  another small piece of a piece.  Another food I don't have often and love is mac n cheese so had about 1/3 cup of that + pulled pork.  I skipped the ribs and extra rolls since I was already getting my carbs and wanted the pulled pork more then the ribs and chicken.   Strategy #4:   Plate Method  - Keep the plate method in mind.   Something like the picture below where your plate consists of 1/2 veggies and the rest protein and starch.   In my case the big salad was my veg, the pulled pork was my protein and fat, and my corn bread + mac was the starch.  

Amazing BBQ spread for the Friday rehearsal din! Mmmmm corn bread!  Strategy #3: Pick n Choose. - Treat yourself to what you really want.  Corn bread is one of my favorite foods so naturally I wanted a piece.  I treated myself to that +  another small piece of a piece.  Another food I don't have often and love is mac n cheese so had about 1/3 cup of that + pulled pork.  I skipped the ribs and extra rolls since I was already getting my carbs and wanted the pulled pork more then the ribs and chicken.  Strategy #4: Plate Method - Keep the plate method in mind.   Something like the picture below where your plate consists of 1/2 veggies and the rest protein and starch.   In my case the big salad was my veg, the pulled pork was my protein and fat, and my corn bread + mac was the starch.  

Strategy #5: Fill up on veggies! We all know they're great for us but they also can help to make whatever else your eating feel more filling and satisfying.  This happens because the volume from veggies begin to fill your stomach up & curb appetite.  More volume from veggies keeps the meal big with less calories compared to if that same volume came from just mac n cheese/cornbread.

Saturday

 Pastries, bagels, big bowls of yogurt parfait available for breakfast on Saturday mornin!! For this meal I could not resist a muffin...just look at em!!  So I split one with my fiance (he took the bigger half) + I had some yogurt with fruit and a cup of coffee.   Strategy #6: Portion Control  - eat what you want but be mindful of how much.  After eating I left this area to avoid feeling more temptation.   Strategy #7  : Craving Management  - Remove yourself from the temptations...if possible.  After enjoying a serving or meal do something else or leave the room to distract your mind.  In that time the craving for more may go away.  I also knew I had plenty more treats to look forward to during the day so although I indulged, I didn't want to "over indulge." (Over indulging to me would mean eating 2-4 of those pastries.)

Pastries, bagels, big bowls of yogurt parfait available for breakfast on Saturday mornin!! For this meal I could not resist a muffin...just look at em!!  So I split one with my fiance (he took the bigger half) + I had some yogurt with fruit and a cup of coffee.  Strategy #6: Portion Control - eat what you want but be mindful of how much.  After eating I left this area to avoid feeling more temptation.  Strategy #7: Craving Management - Remove yourself from the temptations...if possible.  After enjoying a serving or meal do something else or leave the room to distract your mind.  In that time the craving for more may go away.  I also knew I had plenty more treats to look forward to during the day so although I indulged, I didn't want to "over indulge." (Over indulging to me would mean eating 2-4 of those pastries.)

 BEAUTIFUL table setting and healthy start to the evening with a nice salad.  Refer to strategy 5 - this was a great way to start the meal because we could start filling up on veggies.  There were appetizers before this as well but with all the people there were to talk to I ended up only sampling 2. . (Strategy 3: Pick and Choose)      Here's how I handled the entree: I kept plate method in mind by choosing one starch option out of three.  The starches available were rolls, mashed potatoes, and a tomato corn pie in a biscuit crust,  Guess which one I choose.....    No way I was missing out on a biscuit crust so that's the starch I enjoyed with my big helping of roasted veggies and some chicken. For dessert I had a nice piece of pumpkin ginger pie and a scoop of ice-cream.   Strategy #8: Sample & Share -  There were several pie options so another approach I considered was to split two or three different kinds of pie so all could be enjoyed.

BEAUTIFUL table setting and healthy start to the evening with a nice salad.  Refer to strategy 5 - this was a great way to start the meal because we could start filling up on veggies.  There were appetizers before this as well but with all the people there were to talk to I ended up only sampling 2.. (Strategy 3: Pick and Choose) 

Here's how I handled the entree: I kept plate method in mind by choosing one starch option out of three.  The starches available were rolls, mashed potatoes, and a tomato corn pie in a biscuit crust,  Guess which one I choose.....

No way I was missing out on a biscuit crust so that's the starch I enjoyed with my big helping of roasted veggies and some chicken. For dessert I had a nice piece of pumpkin ginger pie and a scoop of ice-cream.  Strategy #8: Sample & Share - There were several pie options so another approach I considered was to split two or three different kinds of pie so all could be enjoyed.

IMG_2573.JPG

Sunday

Sunday morning I woke up, went downstairs, and saw lots of bagels - even more then the previous morning and since I didn't have one on Sat I had a big ol' everything bagel with cream cheese.  Usually I stick to & enjoy less dense carbs, such as Ezekiel bread & corn tortillas but again, this weekend I wanted to treat myself.  Strategy 9: Be Mindful - I was aware of my portions and what I treated myself to yesterday and gave myself permission to enjoy something I did not have yet.  And I savored that bagel!!   

tent.jpg

Sunday morning also consisted of a lot of activity since we all helped clean up and pack wedding decor up.  Running back and forth to cars from the party tent felt good since I knew my body was using that bagel. 

Strategy 10: Keep movin -  Even if it's just walking throughout the day, moving in general is important & counts as exercise. Incorporating movement & activity into the day is a great way to prevent unwanted weight gain.  During the car ride home we stopped off a couple times to stretch and get a little extra walking in.

Strategy # 11: Hydrate - Looking back I learned that I could really improve on my water intake.  Sometimes when busy staying hydrated slips my mind.  Emphasizing water and limiting the juices, sodas, etc, is also a great way to limit extra calories.  And in regards to alcohol the lighter, less sugary options will have less calories such as wine, light beer or beer with a lower ABV, and drinks with club soda instead of regular soda.

Strategy 12: BYO - whether you're traveling, going to a party, vacationing, etc, one healthy behavior is to "bring your own" so that you can stay more in control of what you're eating and limit processed food.  A few ideas:

  • Prepare and pack snacks.
  • Stay at a hotel that has a kitchen where you can cook some of the meals or just has a fridge where you can store items like yogurt, fruit, cheese sticks, etc.
  • Bring a healthy dish to a party or event to have a healthy option.

These ideas do not eliminate or restrict you from treating yourself but may help to limit how often you eat food that is less healthy.  

So with aaaalll that being said, (and if you've gotten this far - thank you for reading!) I overall felt really good about my eating habits last weekend and happy I let myself indulge (at an amount that I considered to be healthy).  This is personally a major accomplishment for me because I've had plenty of times in the past where I'd over indulge to the point of not feeling well, sometimes resulting in anger towards myself.  Let's face it - it's not easy to stay portion controlled all the time - especially when many delicious options are right in front of you.  Over indulging from time to time is to be expected because no one is perfect and it's important to acknowledge and accept that.  Not only is it beneficial to have a plan and strategies to help cope with & manage temptations, food cravings, and eating habits during special occasions, but also to keep a positive mindset and have love & compassion for yourself.   Despite how eating habits went during a holiday, wedding, or other event the mindset of re-focusing and getting back on track as soon as you can is a big part of what makes a lifestyle healthy and balanced. 

Mentally it was less stressful to just let go of unrealistic restrictions and instead set reasonable expectations, which is a constant practice when facing these special occasions and social gatherings.  Even if you over indulge or things do not go as you planned, the healthy way to handle that would be to forgive yourself, learn from and identify what the challenges were, plan for the future, and get right back on track instead of continuing to over indulge day after day.  Make getting back up a consistent behavior instead of staying down.   With strategies and/or a plan in mind you can attend events, holiday parties, weddings, etc., and live a healthy lifestyle!  Like I mentioned in my last post - a healthy lifestyle is about progress, not perfection - with room for your favorite foods and delicious indulgences.

 

Cheers to Health,

Rachel